A Navajo “code talker” who used his native language to keep vital communications secure from the Japanese in World War II has died in New Mexico at age 94.
(Photo courtesy Navajo Nation)
Navajo Nation officials confirmed that Alfred K. Newman, a real hero died on Sunday at a Bloomfield nursing home.
The term “code talkers” refers to a group of people in the 20th century who utilized little-known languages as a means of secret communication during wartime. The term is now usually associated with United States service members during the world wars who used their knowledge of Native American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages, according to Wikipedia.
In particular, there were approximately 400–500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was to transmit secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Their service improved the speed of encryption of communications at both ends in front line operations during World War II.
The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by the Cherokee and Choctaw peoples during World War I.
Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk and Comanche soldiers; they served in the Pacific, North African, and European theaters.
During World War II, Newman served from 1943-45 in 1st Battalion, 21st Regiment, 3rd Marine Division and saw duty at Bougainville Island, Guam, Iwo Jima, Kwajalein Atoll, Enewetak Atoll, New Georgia and New Caledonia, Military Times reports.
Newman is survived by his wife of 69 years, Betsy. They have five children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are pending.
Rest in peace brother and America thanks you for your service.
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