Friday, November 11, 2016

An Irreplaceable Loss

While much of the United States has been distracted with a political campaign, which had to say the least, a surprise ending, we missed some of the other stories and events that happened while we were caught up with election night.

Corporal George James, Sr., 5th Marine Division, USMC (Ret), age 92, veteran of The battle of Iwo Jima, died on November 9, 2016.  He was Navajo. Born and raised in the Red Valley of the Navajo Nation. 

George James, Sr, age 17 circa 1943
At age 17, he left his native land to join the United States Marine Corps, and would eventually become a member of the one of the most legendary groups in Marine Corps history- The Code Talkers. 

The code talkers were a group of Navajo men, all Marines, Who took their native language and turned it into a code that was unbreakable. Over an open circuit a member of the code talkers could say in Navajo "five turtles are crossing the hill" and the Code Talker on the other end of the frequency would hear in his native Navajo and translate words they had chosen to mean something of a military nature.  Navajo had no word fyor Tank-- so the Code Talkers figured "Turtle" would do just fine.  

 There were no code books required-
And therefore nothing for the enemy to capture. Each young Marine had grown up speaking Navajo as his native language.  The code, per se, within each Marines head.

It was also the fastest code United States Marines could use. No decipherment keys, notebooks to reference, each man just spoke in his native tongue. How much faster could "encrypted" communication be?

Japanese High Command was utterly confused by Navajo. Very few people outside of a reservation at ever heard the language and even fewer non-natives spoke the language. Frustrated, by the end of the war, it was the code good Japanese never broke.

Immediately after the war, the code talkers were told to forget everything and return home. They were told never to speak about what they had done.  As such, immediately following World War II, there was no recognition publicly for what they had done.

It would be years before the Marine Corps could acknowledge the existence of the Navajo code talker's, and even more years before they received the public recognition they so greatly deserve.

Because the existence of the code talkers was classified until 1968, and because of the way service records were kept, it is unknown how many code talkers are still alive today.

The one thing we do know for sure, is there is one less.  

Make God bless the memory of Corporal George James Sr.  United States Marine Corps, and all the men and women who served like him both before and after. 



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