The First Code Talkers

Today is the 5th of May….a day of celebration for those of Mexican descent…..

Not the only thing that occurred on this day.

History records that the first code talkers enlisted on this day in 1942…..but actually the very first code talkers were used in World War One…..1918 to be exact.

When US military codes kept being broken by the Germans in WW1 a Native American tribe came to the rescue. They just spoke their own language – which baffled the enemy – and paved the way for other Native American “code talkers” in WW2.

It’s an irony that probably didn’t go unnoticed by Choctaw soldiers fighting in World War One. While the tribe’s children were being whipped for speaking in their native tongue at schools back home in Oklahoma, on the battlefields of France the Native American language was the much-needed answer to a very big problem.

In the autumn of 1918, US troops were involved in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Western Front. It was one of the largest frontline commitments of American soldiers in WW1, but communications in the field were compromised. The Germans had successfully tapped telephone lines, were deciphering codes and repeatedly capturing runners sent out to deliver messages directly.

“It was a huge problem and they couldn’t figure out a way around it,” says Matt Reed, curator of American Indian Collections at the Oklahoma History Center, the headquarters of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The solution was stumbled upon by chance, an overheard conversation between two Choctaw soldiers in the 142nd Infantry Regiment. The pair were chatting in camp when a captain walked by and asked what language they were speaking. Realising the potential for communication, he then asked if there were other speakers among the troops. The men knew of Choctaw soldiers at company headquarters. Using a field telephone the captain got the men to deliver a message in their native tongue which their colleagues quickly translated back into English. The Choctaw Telephone Squad was born and so was code talking.

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26963624

I do not want to take anything away from the code talkers in World War Two….it is that they were just carrying on a fine tradition of their fellow NAs….that started in World War One.

On this day 05 May 1942……

On May 5, 1942, 29 men arrived at Recruit Depot San Diego for basic training in the Marine Corps. They would go on to develop and implement an unbreakable code that was used across the Pacific theater of World War II — one which helped mask the movements of American forces from Guadalcanal, to Tarawa, Peleliu, and onward to Iwo Jima. 

These men were the first of the Navajo Code Talkers.

However, according to a Facebook post by the Southern Navajo Nation News, it was on this day, 78 years ago that they swore the oath of enlistment.

https://taskandpurpose.com/history/navajo-code-talkers-enlistment-date

Our hats go off to these brave men and offer a well deserved ‘thank you’….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

4 thoughts on “The First Code Talkers

  1. Thanks Chuq. I didn’t know about WWI code talkers. How tragic that children were whipped for speaking their native tongue. My mother and her side of the family are from Oklahoma. I do not know much about the culture of the state, but my family–very English in ancestry–revered Native Americans.

    1. Hopefully it was a help in understanding…..the people were mistreated and yet stepped up to serve their country….amazing people….chuq

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