November 11, 2009

How the codetalkers won the war

Here's the first concrete statement I've seen on the role the codetalkers played:

Veterans who 'gave' their language

By John Wilson These Marines' precise impact of the code on the course of the war is impossible to measure; several historians think the US would have lost the crucial battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945 without it.

Even some code talkers dispute that claim--though there's no question their role was key. Navajo Marines coded more than 800 messages in the first two days of the battle alone.

Code talker Bill Toledo remembers his battalion commander at Iwo Jima waiting more than an hour to transmit a routine advance-and-report order to a forward company while the message was being encrypted by traditional means--eventually abandoning the effort. Then-Pfc. Toledo, speaking with a code talker at the advance position, transmitted the message in minutes.

As it was, more than 20,000 Japanese troops mounted a ferocious, 36-day defense of the island, using a network of tunnels to frustrate Marine advances.

Clearly, the rapid-but-secure communication that only the Navajo code could provide was crucial.
Comment:  In most articles about the codetalkers, you can't tell if they played a moderate role in 20 battles, a major role in one battle, or what. Apparently a major role in one battle is closest to the truth.

For more on the subject, see Mythologizing the Codetalkers and Congressional Medal for Codetalkers.

Below:  "American heroes: Navajo 'code talkers' like brothers Preston and Frank Toledo played a key role in World War II."

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