In World War 2, US Marines fighting in the Pacific needed to be able to communicate securely on the battlefield. Early in the war, the Japanese had been able to decode some of their encrypted messages. So the Marines turned to members of the Navajo tribe. An unbreakable code based on the Navajo language was quickly developed. And the Navajo Code Talkers went on to participate in all the major Marine operations in the Pacific, helping the Allies to victory.
Rob Walker has been listening back to the story of one of the Code Talkers, Samuel Tso, and also speaking to Laura Tohe who is the daughter of a Code Talker and who has written a book about them, ‘Code Talker Stories’.
The interview with Samuel Tso was reproduced with the kind permission of George Colburn. Details of his documentary about the Code Talkers can be found here: https://www.thenavajocodetalkers.com/
The full interview with Samuel Tso is available on C-SPAN, along with interviews with other Code Talkers: https://www.c-span.org/video/?459728-1/navajo-code-talker-samuel-tso-oral-history-interview
Photo: 'Code Talker' U.S. Marines George H. Kirk (left) of Ganado, Arizona and John V. Goodluck (right) of Lukachukai, Arizona, both of the Navajo Nation, are photographed before their shelter on a hillside following the American victory of the Battle of Guam, September 1944. (Photo by: Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)