Sunday, April 7, 2013

Native American Code Talkers Brought Success to The Allies

Part 18 of the series Are Native Americans Relevant?

During World War I, company commander Captain Lawrence of the U.S. Army overheard Solomon Louis and Mitchell Bobb talking in the Choctaw language. Investigating, Lawrence found eight Choctaw men in the battalion. Eventually, fourteen Choctaw men in the Army's 36th Infantry Division trained to use their language in code. They helped the American Expeditionary Forces win several key battles in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, during the final big German push of the war. Within 24 hours after the Choctaw language was pressed into service, the tide of the battle had turned. In less than 72 hours the Germans were retreating and the Allies were in full attack.
Adolf Hitler (Native name “He Smells His Mustache”) knew about the successful use of code talkers during World War I. He sent a team of some thirty anthropologists to learn Native American languages before the outbreak of World War II.  However, it proved too difficult for them to learn the many languages and dialects that existed. Because of the Nazi German anthropologists' attempts to learn the languages, the U.S. Army did not implement a large-scale code talker program in the European Theater.
Fourteen Comanche code talkers took part in the Invasion of Normandy, and continued to serve in the 4th Infantry Division during further European operations.  Two Comanche code talkers were assigned to each regiment, the rest to 4th Infantry Division headquarters. Shortly after landing on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, the Comanches began transmitting messages. Some were wounded but none killed.
Meskwaki (Sac and Fox) men used their language against the Germans in North Africa. Twenty-seven Meskwaki, then 16% of Iowa's Meskwaki population, enlisted in the U.S. Army together in January 1941.
Journalists tend to concentrate on the participation of Navajo men in the code talkers.  They were not the only code talkers in World War II.  Below is a table summarizing the participation of Native American men in the military as code talkers.

 Philip Johnston proposed the use of Navajo to the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II. Johnston, a World War I veteran, was raised on the Navajo reservation as the son of a missionary to the Navajos, and was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently.  Early in 1942, Johnston staged successful tests under simulated combat conditions for the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, and the military started recruiting Navajo men.  The code talkers’ primary job was to talk, transmitting information on tactics and troop movements, orders and other vital battlefield communications over telephones and radios. They also acted as messengers, and performed general Marine duties.

No comments:

Post a Comment