Naval History: Navajo Code Talkers

July 22, 2014

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The Navajo Code Talkers or “Windtalkers” were apart of a small group of 400-500 Native Americans enlisted in the US military during the world wars. It was Philip Johnson, a civil engineer for the city of Los Angeles, who proposed the use of Navajo to the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II. Johnston, a World War I veteran, was raised on the Navajo reservation as the son of a missionary to the Navajos, and was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. Because Navajo has a complex grammar and at the time being an unwritten language, Johnston saw Navajo as answering the military requirement for an undecipherable code. Navajo was spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest, and its syntax and tonal qualities, not to mention dialects, made it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training.  One estimate indicates that at the outbreak of World War II fewer than 30 non-Navajos could understand the language.

Early in 1942, Johnston met with Major General Clayton B. Vogel, the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, and his staff. Johnston staged tests under simulated combat conditions which demonstrated that Navajos could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds, versus the 30 minutes required by machines at that time. The idea was quickly accepted, with Vogel recommending that the Marines recruit 200 Navajos.

The first 29 Navajo recruits attended boot camp in May 1942. These 29 recruits would develop the Navajo code, combining their language with the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet to create a codebook. The codebook was developed to teach the many relevant words and concepts to new initiates. The text was for classroom purposes only, and was never to be taken into the field. The code talkers memorized all these variations and practiced their rapid use under stressful conditions during training. Uninitiated Navajo speakers would have no idea what the code talkers’ messages meant; they would hear only truncated and disjointed strings of individual, unrelated nouns and verbs.

As time went on the Windtalkers would go on to take part of every US Marine assault in World War II. The Windtalkers were commended for their skill, speed, and accuracy accrued throughout the war. At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

As the war progressed, additional code words were added on and incorporated program-wide. In other instances, informal short-cut code words were devised for a particular campaign and not disseminated beyond the area of operation. To ensure a consistent use of code terminologies throughout the Pacific Theater, representative code talkers of each of the U.S. Marine divisions met in Hawaii to discuss shortcomings in the code, incorporate new terms into the system, and update their codebooks. These representatives in turn trained other code talkers who could not attend the meeting. The code talkers received no recognition until the declassification of the operation in 1968.

Finally,  in 1982, the code talkers were given a Certificate of Recognition by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who also named August 14, 1982 “Navajo Code Talkers Day”, and later, President Bill Clinton signed a law which would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the original twenty-nine World War II Navajo code talkers, and Silver Medals to each person who qualified as a Navajo code talker. In July 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush personally presented the Medal to four surviving original code talkers (the fifth living original code talker was not able to attend) at a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. Gold medals were presented to the families of the 24 original code talkers no longer living.

The last of the original 29 Navajo code talkers who developed the code, Chester Nez, died last month on June 4, 2014, marking an end to an era of heroes who worked diligently behind the public eye and recognition. These men layed a course that significantly helped many of our men return home after the war and became heroes for the cryptologic world. Their dedication and devotion to their duty will always be remembered.

-PO2 Howard, Command Blog Manager


Fireworks Safety

July 2, 2014
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As July 4th quickly approches, many people want to see the immitation of the “rockets red glare,” but there are a few things to keep in mind before celebrating Independence Day.

The only fireworks products that are legal in Florida should bear the words “emits a fountain or shower of sparks”, according to the Fire Marshal’s office. Aerial devices — those that fly — are all illegal, as are fireworks that explode.

In Florida, 120 fireworks-related incidents were responded to by fire departments across the state during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The most common fireworks injuries involve the hands, fingers, eyes, head, and face. Some of these injuries are severe, resulting in permanent health problems such as missing fingers and limbs and vision loss.

Anyone purchasing fireworks should also keep these safety tips in mind:

Sparklers can reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees, at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.

-Never give sparklers to young children, because sparklers can reach temperatures between 1,300
and 1,800 degrees, at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.
-Keep pets indoors and away from all sparklers.
-Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light.
-Keep a fire extinguisher and water hose on-hand for emergencies and a bucket of water available
for used sparklers.
-Only purchase sparklers from licensed vendors.

It’s much easier (and cost effective) to attend a public fireworks show. Many public displays sponsored by communities or organizations are presented all across Florida. Have a safe and fun celebration of American freedom.


D-DAY: Operation Overlord

June 10, 2014

USS Arkansas shells the German position all day, ably supported by the French cruisers, George Leygues and Montcalm. Attack transports fill the horizon as assault waves stream in under the heavy guns of the battle fleet.

USS Arkansas shells the German position all day, ably supported by the French cruisers, George Leygues and Montcalm. Attack transports fill the horizon as assault waves stream in under the heavy guns of the battle fleet.

On the night of June 5, 1944, 1,000 ships, the greatest armada ever to set sail, left the British isles, bound for the Coast of Normandy–its mission to liberate Europe. Operation Overlord had begun. On June 6, almost 200,000 Allied soldiers landed on rugged French beaches, code-named Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Rocky cliffs fortified by the German loomed over the beaches. This was the formidable threshold of the second front, the long-awaited campaign that spelled the end of the Third Reich. Stubborn German resistance and gale-force channel storms caused a devastating loss of men and equipment in the period immediately following the landing. Some American units suffered casualties to half their numbers. The invasion of Europe often seemed on the brink of foundering.

But it did not fail. The door to Europe was opened. American, British, and Canadian forces poured in, accompanied by contingents representing the governments-in-exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland. In little more than two months Paris was liberated. Within a year Hitler was dead and the German Army defeated. Today, above Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery bears silent, but perpetual witness to the cost of the mightiest sea-to-shore operation ever launched.

While the invasion forces gathered throughout Great Britain, the United States Navy assigned combat artists to record the great adventure. For the young artists, the challenge was unique. During their training period, they lived with the crews of the vessels destined to take part in the invasion; they rode the ships across the channel, and accompanied the troops as they landed. Their paintings, including descriptions of their work, were subject to strict censorship. These historic paintings of the events that occurred are housed at the Navy Art Collection.


Summer Safety Tips

May 29, 2014

As the weather gets warmer, keep in mind some of the hazards that occur with outdoor recreational activities. Here’s a list of somethings to keep in mind to beat the heat and keep your summer problem free.

  • Mosqituoes and ticks may be out heavy this year, so make sure your kids and pets have any of the insect repelent they might need.
  • Make sure your kids have proper training before entering the water. Inform your child of all the current and riptides that occur in the ocean and how to handle getting back to shore if they get caught in them. The MWR offers many swimming classes available to all ages.
  • Nearly 300,000 kids make a visit to the emergency room every year with bike-related injuries. Remind them to put a helmet on.
  • Did you know that if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated? Relying on thirst as a reminder to take a drink leaves you at risk for dehydration. Staying hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Keep water or sports drinks on hand to maintain hydration, and try to stay in a shady or air-conditioned location during the hottest parts of the afternoon.
  • According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you’re a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Regardless of whether or not you burn easily, everyone should apply a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays every day of the year. Yes, even on cloudy days. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. When using sunscreen, apply as much as would fill a shot glass; and if you’re using both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply sunscreen first and then repellent.

For more summer tips visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/movingoutdoors/

PO Howard, Command Blog Manager


Irena Sendler: Holocaust Heroine

April 29, 2014

During WWII, Irena Sendler got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids. Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted. In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.

PO Brown, Command Blog Manager


Holocaust Remembrance

April 29, 2014

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April is Holocaust Remembrance Month.The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. “Holocaust” is a word of Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

 

Two German Jewish families at a gathering before the war. Only two people in this group survived the Holocaust. Germany, 1928.

 

— US Holocaust Memorial Museum


In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.

As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorable conditions. From the earliest years of the Nazi regime, German authorities persecuted homosexuals and others whose behavior did not match prescribed social norms. German police officials targeted thousands of political opponents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses). Many of these individuals died as a result of incarceration and maltreatment.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE “FINAL SOLUTION” 
 
In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. Increasingly in the years before the outbreak of war, SS and police officials incarcerated Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethnic and racial hatred in these camps. To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war years. The German authorities also established numerous forced-labor camps, both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in German-occupied territory, for non-Jews whose labor the Germans sought to exploit. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941,Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and, later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind German lines to carry out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist Party officials. German SS and police units, supported by units of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, murdered more than a million Jewish men, women, and children, and hundreds of thousands of others. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi German authorities deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories, and from the countries of many of its Axis allies to ghettos and to killing centers, often called extermination camps, where they were murdered in specially developed gassing facilities. 

THE END OF THE HOLOCAUST

In the final months of the war, SS guards moved camp inmates by train or on forced marches, often called “death marches,” in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Germany, they began to encounter and liberated concentration camp prisoners, as well as prisoners en route by forced march from one camp to another. The marches continued until May 7, 1945, the day the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. For the western Allies, World War II officially ended in Europe on the next day, May 8 (V-E Day), while Soviet forces announced their “Victory Day” on May 9, 1945.

 

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of the survivors found shelter in displaced persons (DP) camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Other Jewish DPs emigrated to the United States and other nations. The last DP camp closed in 1957. The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely.

Further Reading

Bergen, Doris. War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003

Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975.

Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1986.

Gutman, Israel, editor. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990.

Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Yahil, Leni. The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

P.O. Brown: Command Blog Manager

 


Women’s History

April 29, 2014

Women’s History

Here’s just a few of my favorite women who have impacted the world in many significant ways. I hope you enjoy.

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Fatima Al-Fihri

Great Women of Islam
Fatima Al-Fihri- Founder of the Oldest University in the World
By Hezreen Abdul Rashid

Fatima and Mariam were well educated. After inheriting a large amount of money from their father, the girls vowed to spend their entire inheritance for the benefit of their community. Whilst Mariam headed the construction of the grand mosque Al-Andalus, Fatima planned on the building of another mosque called Al Karaouine which was said to be the largest in North Africa. It was in the midst of the construction of the mosque that the University of Al-Karaouine ( which is still part of the mosque today) was set up.

The University of Al-Karaouine was highly regarded back then as one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world. Today, the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized it to be the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.

Fatima Al-Fihri was certainly a lady of foresightedness for the location of the university within the compounds of the mosque attracted scholars from far and wide. As time went by, the university gained the patronage of politically powerful sultans. It compiled a large selection of manuscripts that are currently kept guarded in the library. Among those manuscripts are volumes from the famous Al-Muwatta of Malik written on gazelle parchment, the Sirat Ibn Ishaq, a copy of the Qur’an given to the university by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1602, and the original copy of Ibn Khaldun’s book Al-’Ibar.

Today, Fatima Al-Fihri is highly respected and looked upon by Moroccan women for her wisdom, perseverance, and her kind heart. It was her personal sacrifice that has made her to be an inspiration to all women. Even today, young Moroccan ladies speak greatly of their fore-mother, who not only brought fame to Fes but has carved a name for being the only Muslim who has built the oldest university which is still running today.

Fatima has shown to us that even in the early centuries that women who are shrouded with the veil are just as willful and intelligent as those of us today.

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Jeannette Rankin

First Female in Congress

Jeannette Rankin was born near Missoula, Montana on June 11, 1880. She successfully fought for a woman’s right to vote in Washington State and Montana and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916. The first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, during her two separate terms, Rankin helped pass the 19th Amendment and was the only Congressperson to vote against both WWI and WWII. She died in 1973.

After earning a degree in biology in 1902, Rankin followed in her mother’s footsteps briefly, working as a teacher. Jeanette Rankin tried several more careers, including seamstress and social worker. Jeannette Rankin found her calling in the women’s suffrage movement. While living in Washington State, she became active in the drive to amend that state’s constitution to give women the right to vote. The measure passed in 1911, and Rankin later returned home to Montana to win the right to vote for the women of her home state. The voters of Montana granted women the right to vote in 1914.

Her years as a social activist helped Jeannette Rankin in her 1916 run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Although it was a very close race, she won the election, becoming the first woman to serve in Congress. This accomplishment is even more miraculous, considering this was a time when many women still did not have the right to vote.

Leaving office in 1943, Jeannette Rankin spent much of her time traveling. She also continued to work to further her pacifist beliefs, speaking out against U.S. military actions in Korea and Vietnam. She died on May 18, 1973, in Carmel, California. This groundbreaking politician was the only legislator to vote against both world wars, reflecting her deep commitment to pacifism. She is also remembered for tireless efforts on behalf of women’s suffrage.

 

Personalities AE  96

Bessie Coleman

First Black Woman to Fly

Born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, Bessie Coleman was one of 13 children to Susan and George Coleman, who both worked as sharecroppers. Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Because flying schools in the United States denied her entry, she taught herself French and moved to France in 1922, earning her license from France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation in just seven months. Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, earning a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. She remains a pioneer of women in the field of aviation.

In 1915, at 23 years old, Coleman moved to Chicago, where she lived with her brothers and worked as a manicurist. Not long after her move to Chicago, she began listening to and reading stories of World War I pilots, which sparked her interest in aviation.

Though she wanted to start a flying school for African Americans when she returned to the U.S., Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, and earned a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. In 1922, hers was the first public flight by an African- American woman in America.

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Rosalind Franklin

 Discovered the Molecular Structure of DNA

British chemist Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born into an affluent and influential Jewish family on July 25, 1920, in Notting Hill, London, England. She displayed exceptional intelligence from early childhood, knowing from the age of 15 that she wanted to be a scientist. She received her education at several schools, including North London Collegiate School, where she excelled in science, among other things.

Rosalind Franklin enrolled at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1938 and studied chemistry. In 1941, she was awarded Second Class Honors in her finals, which, at that time. She went on to work as an assistant research officer at the British Coal Utilization Research Association, where she studied the porosity of coal—work that was the basis of her 1945 Ph.D. thesis “The physical chemistry of solid organic colloids with special reference to coal.”

Rosalind Franklin earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge University. She learned crystallography and X-ray diffraction, techniques that she applied to DNA fibers. One of her photographs provided key insights into DNA structure. Other scientists used it as the basis for their DNA model and took credit for the discovery.

In the fall of 1946, Franklin was appointed at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de l’Etat in Paris, where she worked with crystallographer Jacques Mering. He taught her X-ray diffraction, which would largely play into her discovery of “the secret of life”—the structure of DNA. In addition, Franklin pioneered the use of X-rays to create images of crystallized solids in analyzing complex, unorganized matter, not just single crystals.

Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, at age 37.

 

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Hedy Lamarr

Actress Invents Wireless Communication (wifi)

Hedy Lamarr was an actress during MGM’s “Golden Age.” She starred in such films as Tortilla Flat, Lady of the Tropics,Boom Town, and Samson and Delilah, with the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracey. Lamarr was also a scientist, co-inventing an early technique for spread spectrum communications—key to many wireless communications of our present day.

 Actress Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1913, in Vienna, Austria. Discovered by an Austrian film director as a teenager, she gained international notice in 1933, with her role in the sexually charged Czech film Ecstasy. After her unhappy marriage ended with Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer who sold arms to the Nazis, she fled to the United States and signed a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in Hollywood under the name Hedy Lamarr. Upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer, Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation.

In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or “Secret Communications System,” which was a means of changing radiofrequencies to keep enemies from decoding messages. Originally designed to defeat the German Nazis, the system became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones.

Lamarr wasn’t instantly recognized for her communications invention since its wideranging impact wasn’t understood until decades later. However, in 1997 Lamarr and Antheil were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award, and that same year Lamarr became the first female to receive the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, considered “The Oscars” of inventing.

-PO3 Brown Command Blog Manager


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