PHOENIX — Navajo Code Talkers helped the U.S. win the war in the Pacific during WWII.
At the start of the war, fewer than 30 non-Navajo could speak the language. Add in dialects and its complexity and the U.S. had a powerful weapon. But Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald says that there was more to it than that.
"It was a code within a code. Navajo words were used to develop code words," explained MacDonald, who was honored during a Veterans Medical Leadership Council event in Phoenix this week.
He says the word for dive-bomber translated to chicken hawk.
"Why chicken hawk? Because we were told diver bombers behave like chicken hawk that we're used to on reservation. They fly high. They see rabbit or prairie dog. They dive real fast and have good lunch. We were told diver bomber behaved [the] same way," says MacDonald.
The code was used until early in the Vietnam War. It remains the only spoken military code that was never broken.