US NAVY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US NAVY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Navajo code talkers. Navajo Indian Marines using a field radio on the island of Bougainville in the South Pacific in December 1943. The Navajo language was used by the Marine Corps in the South Pacific for communications between 1942 and 1945. The complexity of the Navajo language, its lack of a written form and the very small number (fewer than 30) of non-Navajos that could speak it, made it ideal as a code language. Indeed, it was the only US code that the Japanese were never able to break. It use was suggested by Philip Johnston, who, as the son of a missionary, was raised on a Navajo reservation and was fluent in the language. Approximately 420 Navajos were trained as code talkers during World War II and it was also used during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
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