Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Unbreakable Code: A Valuable Weapon

Because the Navajos, with their straight black hair, dark eyes, small stature, and somewhat Asian features, resembled the Japanese, each had a bodyguard assigned to him. After one Code Talker was nearly shot by a U.S. Marine, these bodyguards went everywhere the Navajos went. The Code Talkers were a valuable weapon and their safety was first and foremost, one of the bodyguards reported being told by his superiors. However, the Code as well as the Talker was to be protected. If a Code Talker had the misfortune to be captured by the Japanese his bodyguard was under orders to shoot him to protect the Code. Fortunately, this was not necessary since none were captured.

One night in August 1945 the news came over the division radio net that the emperor of Japan had asked for peace terms. The Navajos, naturally, were the first to learn this good news. The elated Navajos decided a celebration was in order. Since tom-toms were not items of issue, they set off au natural for the bandsmen's tents. They grabbed the drums and Indian-danced their way toward the officer's tents with the bandsmen, also au natural, in hot pursuit trying to retrieve their drums. The war ended in the Pacific on September 2, 1945, with the formal surrender of Japan. The men from a nation within a nation were an integral part of that victory.

The Navajo Code did not end with the war's end. The Code remained classified since no one knew if it would be needed again, and it remained so until 1969 when it was finally declassified by the United States government. The Navajos had been told to remain silent about their role in the war and the existence of the code. They kept the secret until it was no longer a secret.

Next: After the War

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