During World War II, the Allied forces were having a lot of trouble getting secret
messages overseas. Many times messages were sent through code. The Axis Powers
were breaking the codes that had been used, and the United States knew that they
needed to invent a code that was unbreakable, so that troops in the Pacific would
The Birth of the Navajo Code Talkers
The idea for the new code came from Philip Johnston. He was a veteran from the first
World War and had lived on the land that belonged to the Navajo Nation. He had read
an article that discussed how the Army had previously used Native Americans as
signalmen in their training camps. A signalman’s job is to send and receive messages.
In 1942 the United States Marines enlisted 29 Navajo men to help create the new code.
These men did not have to work too hard to create an unbreakable code: they were
able to use their own native language. The Navajo people are indigenious to the United
States, and their language is very old, and mostly unknown except to people that have
Navajo heritage. These 29 men were able to communicate to each other and send
coded messages in their own language to other military branches stationed in Europe.
These men became known as the Navajo Code Talkers.
The Code Talker Advantage
The Navajo Code Talkers helped communicate through all missions in the Pacific
Ocean from 1942 until 1945. One of the most important missions the Code Talkers
worked on was the assault on Iwo Jima in Japan. The Code Talkers were able to
transmit messages from the mainland of the United States to soldiers stationed in
Japan. The Japanese military was unable to crack the code. The Navajo Code Talkers
were responsible for making sure that strategies that were created in Washington were
communicated safely to soldiers in Japan without the coded messages being breached.
Celebrating the Code Talkers
August 14th is National Code Talkers Day. This holiday was made official in March of
2021. Today, only four or the original Navajo Code Talkers are still alive. The living
Navajo Code talkers are Thomas H. Begay, John Kinsel, Peter MacDonald, and Samuel
Sandoval. On Veterans Day we celebrate their achievements and hard work by
remembering how they used a language that is native to the United States to protect
military personnel in the Pacific during World War II.