Skip to comments.Hopi Code Talkers Honored at Arizona Memorial
Posted on 04/29/2012 10:45:00 AM PDT by nickcarraway
It was Sept. 17, 1944. Eight young Hopi men thought about their families and peaceful villages in the high desert of Arizona -- thousands of miles away -- and prayed for a last time before they boarded ships and joined their units with the U.S. Army's 223rd Infantry Regiment, 81st Infantry Division, on the shores of Angaur Island, Palau. The mission was to take over the island and provide the U.S. military with a strategic location in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. But the Japanese intelligence had been so good at breaking military codes that the mission depended on the Hopi men to use their unique language to confuse the enemy, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. with the 81st Regional Support Command Gill P. Beck said.
"What we found in WWII is that no matter how strong we were, we could not create a code that could not be decoded (by the Japanese)," Beck told an audience that included family members of the Hopi Code Talkers who gathered at the first official Hopi Code Talker Memorial at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center in Kykotsmovi on April 23. "That prevented us from being successful in our missions. ... If they can destroy that code, they can destroy that unit."
The mission lasted for three days of brutal confrontations between forces in and around the island. The U.S. forces circled the Japanese base and successfully gained control. This takeover contributed to the final victory in the Pacific and eventually the successful end of World War II, Beck said.
Eugene Talas, director of the Hopi Veteran Affairs, said war is against the Hopi tradition. This is why the Hopi men who were drafted during World War II might have struggled tremendously during their service.
"You have to remember, with our tradition, with the Hopi, we don't like to take pride in military accomplishments," he said.
In the Hopi tradition, the men only fought to defend their land and families, but never went beyond the boundaries of their sacred land in search of trouble. There's a reason the early Hopi villages were built on top of high mesas and the people lived peaceful agricultural lives. They did not want any trouble.
"We shy away from the word 'warrior,'" Talas said.
When the Hopi Code Talkers returned to their peaceful villages they might have gone through cleansing ceremonies and burned or buried their military outfits and medals as part of the cleansing process, Talas said. That is another reason it has been difficult to identify all the Code Talkers. They did not keep records, perhaps in an attempt to forget that time of their lives. Recently, two more Hopi Code Talkers were identified, totaling 10.
The 223rd Infantry Regiment included eight Hopi Code Talkers: Charles T. Lomakema, of Shugopavi; Perry Honani Sr., of Shungopavi; Franklin Shupla, of Tewa; Percival Navenma, of Mishungnovi; Floyd Dann Sr., of Moenkopi; Travis S. Yaiva, of Bacavi; Frank Chapella, of Tewa; and Warren R. Kooyaquaptewa, of Tewa.
I have friend whose husband, Ralph Wahnee, was a Comanche Code Talker but did not get overseas. I think there is a website about him.
These guys really helped us win the war. I salute them for their service.
And under 0bama...the military will be talking in Ebonics...to confuse themselves more than the enemy.
And lisping also!