Diné Bizaad Yee Atah Naayéé' Yik'eh Deesdlíí'
(The Navajo Language assisted the military forces to defeat the enemy)
This web site is dedicated to my father, Harrison Lapahie, a Navajo Code Talker during World War II, the Navajo Code Talkers, the Navajo Platoons of 1981 to 1985, and all Navajo men and women who have stepped forth and gallantly fought in all of the U.S. great wars. These Navajo Warriors have been a vital part of every American war since their last treaty with the United States in 1868, even though they were told by the U.S. government never to use their weapons again. It is the bravery and courage of these Navajos that helped to make the United States the free and proud place it is today.
The Navajo saw service of every kind and won numerous medals and decorations for outstanding conspicious gallantry for their role in all past wars. These brave servicemen and women served their nation with loyalty and with valor; this web site serves to give them honor and acclaim.
When World War I broke out in the Spring of 1914, thousands of Navajo men and women volunteered their services to the war efforts. They fought in the overseas places of France, Germany, and Italy and received numerous awards and decorations for outstanding duty; many were cited for bravery under fire. A large number of Navajo women on the Navajo Reservation were active in Red Cross and several Navajos bought Liberty Bonds and were involved in other war efforts.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the Navajos again left the canyons, plains and mesas of their reservation homes to join the armed forces and played a crucial role in such combat arenas as Guadacanal, Saipan, Bougainville, Tinian, Anzio, Salerno, Normandy, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and countless other bloody islands and forgotten battlefields. It is estimated that more than 3,600 young Navajo men and women joined the armed forces and over 10,000 Navajos went to work in the military factories during World War II. Proportionately, that figure represents one of the highest percentages of total population in the armed service of any ethnic group in the United States! Navajos were an integral part of the war effort even though they were not given the right to vote in Arizona until 1948, in New Mexico until 1953, and in Utah until 1957!
A special group of Navajo radiomen were formed during World War II, and since 1968 they have been known as the Navajo Code Talkers. They were made famous again from the 2002 movie, "Windtalkers". The Navajo Code Talkers used a special code based on the unwritten Navajo language of the 1940s, the Beauty Way language, to transmit messages, making it futile for the Japanese enemy to decipher American battle messages about the time and place of attack. The complex syntax and complicated tonal qualities of the Navajo language could baffle even the most experienced linguists. What makes this ironic is that the U.S. boarding schools where Navajo children were forced to stay and live, required only English to be spoken, and Navajo children were punished when they spoke their own Beauty Way tongue!
Many American who staked their lives on the success of the Navajo view the Code Talkers contributions to the war effort as nothing short of monumental. One Marine Corps signal officer summed up the situation after the war: "Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima and other places". Nearly every Navajo has some connection to a Navajo Code Talker, whether it be a family member, distant relative, or a friend who is related to one.
Some WWII Navajo warriors never came home to feel what it was like and how special it was to be Diné and to be appreciated for what they had done for their land. And for those that came home, the heroes of their Diné Bikeyah, some suffering from physical and mental illness, they had to go through a special ceremony to cleanse themselves of what they had experienced in war. Nevertheless, they expressed how important and sacred the Diné language was, the Beauty Way Language, by the Navajo code!
The Navajos were again ready to go to battle when the Korean War began. War came to Korea at dawn on June 25, 1950, when the Korean People's Army launched its offensive against the People's Republic of Korea. The Navajos were again part of the courageous Americans who willingly gave their services to the war efforts. They fought gruelling battles at such faraway places as Taejon, Chonan, Chonai, the Kum River and Chochiwon. They protected the port city of Pusan, the bridges at Sinanju, took cover in rice paddys in a field near Asan and defended communists threats in the Uijongbu Corridor just north of Seoul where they faced manacing tanks which headed the onslaught.
The Navajos saw the end of the Korean War only to be called upon soon after to go to the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War, who's silent roots date back to the 1930's turned into an open war in early 1965. This was the longest battle in American history and was second only to the World War II in terms of lives lost and dollars spent.
There were approximately 3,000 Navajos who volunteered their services for this bloody battle. They fought in battles on the shores of Danand and Hue, and flew through heavy fire in the Apbia Mountains. They defended the La Drang Valley, An Khe, Ban Me Thou-i, Qui Nhon and Nha Trang. Hundreds were killed and many wounded, but for those who made it home, it was an experience they will never forget. Upon their return home, they did not see any outstanding ceremony of award waiting for them. Some had the Navajo medicine man perform a ritual which served to make them forget their bad experiences.
After 56 years since the end of World War 2, on July 26, 2001, the first Navajo radiomen recruits (the original 29), who developed and initiated the secret Navajo code, were given the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. Only 5 were alive and only 4 were able to attend. In November 24, 2001, the other 371 Navajo Code Talkers were given the Silver Congressional Medal of Honor at Nakai Hall, Navajo Nation Fairgrounds, in Window Rock, AZ. Few Navajo Code Talkers were alive to attend. Instead many family members of deceased Navajo Code Talkers accepted their medals.
In 2003, Sylvia Laughter, while serving in the capacity as Arizona State Representative, and who is Navajo, successfully sponsored HB2104, "The Navajo Code Talker Monument" legislation. With the help of the Navajo Code Talker Memorial Foundation Inc., which Sylvia Laughter heads, and the Navajo Nation, one monument has been placed in Window Rock, Arizona, at the capitol of the Navajo Nation in 2004, and a second 16 foot Navajo Code Talker bronze monument was dedicated at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 28, 2008.
It should be mentioned that other American Indians, most notably, the Hopi, Lakota, Choctaw, and Commanche, also used their native languages as a code during World War I and World War II, for the U.S. Army. On October 15, 2008, the "Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, H.R. 4544" was signed by President Bush and became public law. This act required the issuance of medals to recognize the dedication and valor of Native American code talkers with the exception of the Navajo Code Talkers who received their Congressional Meals of Honor and recognition on July 26th and November 24th of 2001.
Please choose one of the links to the left that tells the incredible true story of the men who created the only unbreakable code in the history of warfare and helped save a nation their ancestors had fought against, the legendary Navajo Code Talkers!
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|Creator(s):||Harrison Lapahie Jr.|
|Contributor(s):||Navajo Code Talkers' Association, Christine Benally, Jean Whitehorse, Sylvia Laughter, Ronnie Towne, Ambrose Benally|
|Curator(s):||Harrison Lapahie Jr.|
|Questions/Comments:||Harrison Lapahie Jr.|
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