THe Navajo Language: a Blessing in Disguise Back                                                                                                           Home                                                                                                         Next

Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima means “Sulfur Island” in Japanese, and it would be at this island that the Navajo Code Talkers would truly shine.   At Iwo Jima on D-Day when the Marines went to land they saw no signs of the Japanese.  Then when about 6,200 Marines were on shore the Japanese opened fire from the hills.  Some Marines dove into holes and found them booby-trapped with Japanese guns already targeted at them.  The Navajos found themselves a safe place, then started sending messages.  During the first 48 hours of battle at Iwo Jima the Navajos sent about 800 messages correctly.  After fighting for four days a group of Marines took control of Mt. Suribachi on day five.  This was one of the turning points in the battle for Iwo Jima.  The Marines’ attention was then turned on Motoyama Air Field 2. On day six, the Americans used planes and ships to shoot at the Air Field. By day 15 the Marines had control of the Air Fields and made the last push towards victory.  On day 26 the Marines had finally conquered Iwo Jima.
Code Talker Keith Little, like many marines, didn't get a lot of hot food.  Here is what he said about one time he almost got hot chow:

Then one day they pulled us to the rear. They told us we would rest there and recoup ourselves from the battle – we had hot chow coming! Well the hot chow came, and the people that brought the meals, they hollered, “Come and get it!”  A bunch of guys went right ahead of us. Me and another guy, we kind of dragged our feet, took our time. Just about the time we were getting there, we heard a whistling noise coming, so we all dove for cover wherever we could find a place. The shell that came, it went right into the hot chow we were supposed to get, and busted it all up! A lot of the guys ahead of me got wounded that day. We were really upset with the Japanese that fired that shell. We called them every crazy name there is – “Go to hell!” we said – for shooting up our hot chow, the first hot chow we had in more than a week. We didn’t get to have it that day. Then we didn’t get any hot chow for another week.
Planting the flag on Mt Suribachi
A picture from after Iwo Jima
       This picture shows the United States Marines putting up the flag on Mt. Surabachi.
       A picture of  "The Navajo Times" front page showing a picture of the Marines after the Iwo Jima victory.
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