Choctaw Code Talkers were used in World War I to send messages in their native language over field telephones. The native Choctaw language could not be understood nor decoded by the German forces. These messages enabled a swift turning of the tide of battle in favor of the Allies.
During World War II, twenty-five years later, the Japanese were able to break every American code due largely to the fact that many of the code breakers were educated in the United States. The Japanese understood even the most complicated of the American slang making it impossible to come up with an unbreakable code.
Philip Johnston, a World War I veteran, had knowledge of the Choctaw code breakers during the first war and was convinced the same method could be used to code messages in the current war. Johnston's family had settled on Navajo land in Arizona and by age 9, he had become proficient in the Navajo language. As a matter of fact, Johnston served as an interpreter between President Theodore Roosevelt and two Navajo leaders in 1901. He was sure the Navajo code would not be broken by the Japanese.
The military was skeptical, but Johnston persuaded a Marine signal officer by the name of Lt. Col. James E. Jones to allow him to put on a demonstration. In February 1942, at Camp Elliott near San Diego, Navajo volunteers translated messages from English to Navajo and sent them to another room where they were translated from Navajo back to English. The process took 20 seconds compared to the 30 minutes it took code machines. This convinced the Marines to enlist Johnston and 30 Code Talkers. After being proven in combat situations, it became clear that the Japanese would not break the code. Without the Code Talkers, Iwo Jima may not have been taken and the outcome fo the war may have been very different. It is ironic to note that a language that was developed thousands of years ago, became America's secret weapon during World War II .