WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) – Roy Hawthorne recalls his time served during World War II with pride, effortlessly sharing his native Navajo language as he shows off how he used codes to trick the Japanese.
The 89-year-old Hawthorne served as a Navajo code talker with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945, hopping from island to island across the South Pacific as U.S. troops fought their way toward Japan.
He recalled his service during an interview in Window Rock, Arizona, before the nation paused to commemorate Veterans Day.
Hawthorne was one of several hundred code talkers who joined the war effort to help stymie the Japanese by using Navajo words and letters transmitted over radios instead of traditional codes that the enemy continued to crack.
Officials credit the Navajo for playing a hugely vital role in combat along with some other tribes that used their native languages during wartime.