Korean War Legacy Project

Roy Orville Hawthorne


Roy Orville Hawthorne was born in Ganado, Arizona, in 1926 to Navajo parents who owned a trading post on the Navajo reservation. At the age of seventeen, he left high school to join the United States Marine Corps where he was assigned to be a Navajo Code Talker. During the Battle of Okinawa in WWII, he fought on Dakeshi Ridge and relied on the Code to call in a crucial air strike. He later served in the US Army where he became a paratrooper, attained the rank of Staff Sergeant, and fought in the Korean War. He was wounded in the leg by shrapnel from a mortar round during the Chinese Spring Offensive of 1951, leading to the amputation of his right leg at the knee. Despite this setback, he remained in the Army for several more years after the Korean War. Following his medical retirement, he used the GI Bill to complete seminary school and earn bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees.

Video Clips

Enlisting and Understanding His Mission

Roy Orville Hawthorne recounts how he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943 at the age of seventeen. He shares he initially wanted to enlist in the “Silent Service” (the submarine force of the United States Navy). He remembers his desire to serve on a submarine originated from reading the novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne. However, he recalls how he was informed at the induction ceremony that all Navajo males were required to be inducted into the US Marine Corps during WWII, per federal legislation. He discusses going to the Navajo Communications School at Camp Pendleton where the mission for Navajo soldiers during WWII was made clear.

Tags: Basic training,Home front,Pride,Weapons

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Maintaining Field Communications in Korea

Roy Orville Hawthorne shares how, after being discharged from the US Marine Corps in 1946, he re-enlisted in the United States Army two years later. He explains how during the Korean War, he served in the infantry and specialized in communications. Despite the sporadic nature of the fighting, he remembers being able to see the enemy on nearby hillsides. His recalls his primary responsibility was maintaining field communications as the enemy aimed to disrupt lines of communication.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Prior knowledge of Korea,Weapons

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Encountering the Enemy

Roy Orville Hawthorne shares he has vivid memories of working tirelessly for almost twenty-four hours straight during the Chinese Spring Offensive. He mentions the significant loss of life during this period and the urgent requirement for more soldiers on the front lines. He remembers how on one morning, while passing by a nearby ditch, he came across enemy troops. He shares that he later observed a sudden flash of light which turned out to be caused by enemy mortar fire. He explains he was seriously injured in the attack.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Weapons

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The Road to Recovery

Roy Orville Hawthorne describes the extent of his injuries from enemy fire. He remembers the lieutenant crying as he offered encouragement at the sight of his wounds. While at the MASH hospital, he recalls a nurse taking his hand and saying, “Chief, you’re going to make it.” He describes traveling by bus to a regular hospital in Korea where he underwent surgery. He remembers spending a year at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C., for treatment and therapy for his wounds, including the amputation of his right leg.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Education is Like a Ladder

Roy Orville Hawthorne shares he utilized the benefits of the GI Bill to attend a Bible Seminary school where he earned a bachelor's and master's degree, followed by a Ph.D. He emphasizes the significance of education by citing Navajo Chief Manuelito's analogy of education being like a ladder which his people must climb to achieve opportunity and happiness. He acknowledges the positive influence of his military service in attaining his professional and personal aspirations.

Tags: G.I. Bill,Home front,Message to Students,Pride

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Race and the Military

Roy Orville Hawthorned discusses his experiences with race in the Military. He shares that there was a lot of misunderstanding between the Navajo Marines and Anglo Marines. He shares one example, where he discusses that the Anglo Marines thought that all Native Americans could shoot a bow and arrow, even though most had not ever shot a bow and arrow. He recalls thinking that the Anglo soldiers were perfect, and didn’t lie or cheat. He admits that the reality is that the uniform doesn’t make you a good person, and that soldiers brought their background with them. He shares that his experiences showed him that are wants and failures were the same, and the all people are similar in so many ways.

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


R:        My name is Roy Hawthorne.

I:          Okay.  And is that your full name?
R:        Yes, it is.

I:          Do you have an Indian name?
R:        Uh, my Indian name is uh, [INDIAN NAME]  But uh, Indian names are not used, uh, very much, very seldomly, seldom used.



I:          Why is that?

R:        I suppose uh, because um, English is, um, is uh, more convenient for you know, documents and different things of that sort.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And uh, just for, basically it was for legal reasons.  I don’t know.  Nobody, uh, has ever said.  But I suppose it, uh, it changes with different people why they don’t use the, un,



Indian names.  Um, but not everybody has an Indian name.  My date of birth was February 13, 1926.

I:          And so, where were you born?
R:        I was born uh, in the, what we called a hamlet. I called it a hamlet of uh, Ganado, Ganado, Arizona which is uh, about um, 40 – 50 miles northwest of where we are now.

I:          Um hm.



And right now, we are

R:        We are at Lupton, Arizona.

I:          Have you lived here long?
R:        I’ve lived here in this area since uh, probably I was about four years old.

I:          Except for your service.
R:        Except for the service time and um, some other time that um, that I spent after I got out of the service, um.  But uh, after all of this going to and fro uh,



I’ve lived here with my family for uh, oh, uh, 34 years.  We uh, we didn’t have any rank in the service.  That might sound real strange.  And it’s not totally true uh.  But um, I say that to emphasize the fact that uh, code talkers hardly ever received a promotion.



And of course, there was a reason for that which was uh, a military reason uh.  We, as code talkers, we weren’t uh, carried on the general table of organization uh.  After the War, um, when my division, which was first Marine Division, uh, went to China, uh,


I was promoted to Corporal there, uh.  And a few of the other code talkers were also promoted to Corporal, uh, during that period of time.  But generally, um, code talkers were not promoted.

I:          How did you feel about that afterwards? Did you feel like it was

R:        Well, as I think about it now, it was an injustice because uh, you know, many of us



Were qualified for a promotion.  And it just didn’t happen.

I:          Did you find, well, let’s start with when your, when were you enlisted?  What was your story about enlistment?
R:        I enlisted um, in uh, 1943, probably sometime in June.  And um, I was 17 at that time.



Several of my brothers had already, uh, gone either to the Army or uh, I think one had already gone into the Marine Corps. Uh.  And I enlisted because um, that was the thing to do in that day.  And um so, that’s what I did uh.  I uh, I wanted to enlist in the Silent Service which is the submarine service.



But um, and the reason that I wanted to do that was people, when I tell them that, they say well um, how did you know about the submarine service?  We have no oceans, no water and so forth, uh.  And that’s certainly true.  However, I had been reading um, a book by Julius Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which was, uh, very captivating, very fascinating.



And uh, I wanted to be a submariner.  But when I got to the Induction Station, I was informed that uh, that the Federal Government uh, had passed uh, legislation which um, which required all able males from that point until the duration of the War be enlisted or inducted into the Marine Corps.  And uh, so that’s what happened.  And uh,



Very early on when you’re dealing with military things, you learn that you don’t ask, uh, why.  And I certainly didn’t ask why.  It wouldn’t have uh, done any good if I did ask why because um, the why part was kept a secret. I mean, it was classified.  So uh, I didn’t ask why.  They didn’t tell me.  And I never um, never knew why until after boot camp when I was assigned to uh, Camp Pendleton in California.



And uh, the Navajo Communication School.  And then nobody had to tell me why because that’s what we were doing.  Uh, it became very obvious what the mission was, yes.  Um, we were speaking Navajo and um, the Navajo that we were speaking wasn’t conversational Navajo.  But it was um, it was from the uh, code that had been developed in uh, sending tactical messages and receiving



Tactical messages.  So, it was um, quite obvious what uh, what our mission was.

I:          How did you feel about that when you learned that?  Was that giving you a little more, were you a little more intrigued by it or what did you, how did you feel?

R:        Uh, I don’t think any of us were intrigued by it.  It was just, uh, another day at the War, um.  And um, we were not only working with uh, the Navajo language



As military code, but uh, we were learning, um, all, most all aspects of military communications that uh, Morse Code and semaphore and um, different other things, field wire communications and uh, other, all aspects of communications.  So uh, we didn’t uh, I didn’t at least uh, feel intrigued by it.


It was just a job, just another duty.

I:          How long were you at Camp Pendleton?
R:        I wasn’t there very long, uh.  When I arrived there, uh, the War was full steam.  And um, the replacements were needed, uh, all the time.  And so, I was in Camp Pendleton maybe three months, maybe not quite that long.  So, you had to learn real fast.



And retain everything you learned and uh, and be ready uh, whenever you got the call that you were, uh, going to be shipped out, uh.  We were shipped out back in those days.  Today, uh, you’re deployed.

I:          It is interesting the language.
R:        Yes.
I:          Um, so when you were shipped out.

R:        Yes.
I:          Where did you ship out to?

R:        I went to Guadal Canal.

I:          Wow.

R:        Now, Guadal Canal was secured



By the time I got over there.  But un, it was um, it was interesting, uh.  Every day was something new, new things.

I:          Was that the first time you’d been away from home?
R:        From home?
I:          From home?
R:        Uh, yes.  Uh, for most of the code talkers, that was true.  Uh, of course back then, um, the infrastructure out here in the



Navajo nation was uh, practically zero.  Like uh, roads, communications, uh, all these things uh, were very primitive.  And uh, means of transportation was very limited.  Usually, it was uh, either by horse or by wagon uh.  Once in a while, uh, there would be uh, some sort of a vehicle uh.  But uh, that was a little bit uncommon.



And so, you didn’t travel any, um.  I met uh, one of my cousins on Okinawa.  We were talking uh, doing a field training with the Navajo code, and I was talking to this person, and uh, asked him about himself, and he told me, and that was my cousin.  And so, I visited him there.  He was in a different uh, different division.  And we visited.



But uh, the thing is that uh, while we were here in our land, uh, it was practically impossible to uh, to go these distances and visit, uh, one another.  So, we had to wait for the War to come along and uh, and take us a long ways from home and uh, bring us together in that way.  So um, so most uh, most of the uh, Navajo, not just code talkers, but all the Navajos that went into the service, uh,



It was their first experience uh, let me say, beyond the horizon.

I:          And how was that for you beyond the horizon?
R:        It was uh, it was entirely new and different.  And many things, um, uh, that I didn’t understand uh, so many things that were very unfamiliar to me, simple things.



Like uh, the operation of a telephone and uh, that became a, if I were to use one, I never did at that time.  But it was a major project cause uh, we just, uh, we didn’t have telephones, uh.  There were telephones, uh, in uh, say trading posts and different things like that.  But uh, for the average Navajo, you never came near a telephone.



I got on a train in Phoenix, uh.  There were, they had assigned me to go to um, to San Diego to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  And uh, so um, it was the first time I was near a train except to see them running on the tracks here, uh.  They gave me uh, one of those little tokens that you, you know, you put in a bus or whatever.



And uh, they said now this is very important that you don’t lose this token.  And I didn’t know what a token was, didn’t know anything about that, uh.  But they said you hold onto it.  Don’t let it go.  And I did.  I held it in my hand uh, all during the trip to uh, San Diego.  And of course, back then, uh, traveling was uh, wasn’t uh, like it is today.  I mean, uh,


Talk about a sardine can.  It was uh, it was a little sardine can with uh, double portion of sardines in it, in all transportation, uh.  And uh so, but I held onto that token, uh.  And they also said when you get there to uh, San Diego, there’ll be a sergeant there uh.  Well, they didn’t tell me what a sergeant was.  I didn’t know what a sergeant was, uh, if it was a person or a thing or what, uh.



And uh, they didn’t say how I would recognize him. I didn’t know what to look for uh.  But uh, just you know, kind of figured it out that he probably would be some guy from the Marine Corps, uh.  We got on, when we got there, I was alone, uh, as far as other Navajos are concerned or other people going into the service.  But when I got there, I looked for a sergeant.


And I didn’t see one.  And I waited, and I still didn’t see one. I saw these buses coming by, and they’d come up, and they’d stop, and they had uh, names of the I found out later was their destinations on top.  But that meant nothing to me, uh.  So, I just waited for what I thought was a sufficient, uh, appropriate length of time.  And then I decided well, the next one comes along, I’ll get on.  And I did, uh.



So, I got on.  And fortunately, it was going to uh, it was going by the Marine Corps base.  So, I had no problem there, uh.  And I got rid of my token.

I:          With the bus.
R:        On the bus, yes.  That’s right.

I:          So, you got on the bus, and they said where’s your token?
R:        Uh, no.  I said do you want this, you know?  Uh, the driver, you know, he never asked for the token



Because everybody riding that bus knew what to do with them, uh.  But I didn’t know what to do with them.  So, I said do you want this?  Yeah, he said.  Put it in there, you know.  He was unconcerned, uh.  So, uh, that’s uh, that’s the way it was getting to the Marine Corps base.  Well uh, in Guadal Canal, we uh, the island was secured, um.  But we went on



Field training exercises uh, all the time, uh, getting ready for uh, for Okinawa.  Of course, we didn’t know that we were getting ready for Okinawa.  But that’s what it was.  So, we’d go on the, uh, the uh, field uh, training exercises.  And uh, we were trained, of course, in using the Navajo code, uh, voice radio, uh, what do you call it, um, Morse Code and other things.



And so, uh, we utilized all of these in our training.  We were also trained as general Marines uh, which means that you, uh, trained uh, outside of the expertise area, uh, where you were going to function uh, most of the time.  So, we were trained in uh, in uh, mortars, how to use mortars, uh, machine guns , and different other weapons.


And uh we continued the training with those uh, weapons and instruments on Guadal Canal.  And uh, in Okinawa, uh, we did use the different things like mortars and machine guns and so forth.  That wasn’t our primary job.



But um, if you were needed, then you knew how to perform that specific task.  So, we did other things um, outside of using the Navajo code.  That was our basic job.  But we did other things as well.  And so, on Guadal Canal, it was all training, getting ready for Okinawa.



I:          So, when did you learn about Okinawa?
R:        When we got there.  We didn’t know where we were going.

I:          So, they just shipped you out again.
R:        Oh yeah.  We were shipped out again and of course, that was the policy back in those days.  And you didn’t know where you were going uh.  Today, uh, if a unit is going to Iraq, uh, everybody knows about it.  They know what unit’s going to Iraq and when they’re leaving.



And so forth, uh.  But in that day, uh, nobody knew, uh.  I suppose the Japanese uh, knew before the code talkers came into the picture.  They knew uh.  And the way we knew that they knew was uh, because uh, they would pick up, uh, our transmissions, uh, before code talking came into being, uh.  They would pick up our transmissions.



And they were encoded.  But they would break the code.  And uh, so they would break it right away.   And they would come onto our frequency and say thank you.  We’ll be there waiting for you. And they were there waiting for us.  And so, they were at that time winning the battles.  Uh, practically on a daily basis, they were winning battles because, uh, they could break the codes so quickly.



And they knew what we were going to be doing, uh.  But then when, uh, when the code talker program was established, uh, it turned the whole thing around.  The whole picture was turned around, uh.  The Japanese could not decode our messages.  And as a result, uh, they weren’t winning the battles like they had been winning the battles.  And uh so, the,



The code, the Navajo code, unbreakable as it was, uh, really changed the picture and turned things around uh, there.  Uh, I must say this that uh, the person that I feel is really responsible for uh, for the Navajo language being used as a military code was not a Navajo.  You probably already know this, uh.  He was not a Navajo.


He was the son of a missionary couple from uh, the Midwest. I always want to say Mideast, but it’s not the Mideast, uh, the Midwest.  And of course, they came out here when he was just a small boy.  And he grew up with Navajo boys and girls as his playmates, uh, learned the language, learned customs and ways and traditions, all these things, uh.  Then when the War,



World War I broke out, he served as a um, as an engineer with the Army.  But he had on his mind that uh, this language probably could be used as a code that would be unbreakable.  And the Army had uh, had experimented with other native American languages uh.  They were unsuccessful, not because of the language but because



They were not encoded.  They tried to use just, uh, conversational language.  They didn’t code their language.  And so, they were unsuccessful.  And so, our military people just were very leery of trying again when Mr. Johnson came up with this idea.  But he persuaded him after a while, uh, that you know,



At least try it.  And so, that’s when Congress authorized uh, the  30, I believe it was 200 or maybe 300, that the uh, Commandant, General Vogel, Commandant of the Marine Corps at that time, had requested, uh.  But they cut that down to uh, to 30.  And the uh, the military was really skeptical that uh, that uh, Indians could do anything.  But that wasn’t just the military either.



I mean, it was a general population uh, the Anglo population of America that was skeptical that the Indians could do anything.  He was uh, he was not an underachiever.  He was a nonachiever.  And so, uh, when I was inducted into the Marine Corps and I raised my hand,



And I swore allegiance to the United States of America, and I became a Marine, that’s when I became somebody.  And that’s when the whole world realized that they had made an error and that uh, it wasn’t true that uh, native Americans were nonachievers, that they were achievers.  And so that’s, that’s what uh, makes me very



Very proud of the fact that uh, that uh, we were chosen to, to do this specific task.  And so, we did it.

I:          And did it well.

R:        Uh, that’s what we understand.  But again, I must say that to most of us, maybe for all of us as code talkers, it was just another day at the War.  We just did what we were supposed to do.



That’s all.

I:          Um hm.  Well, I can go in different directions.  And we will go back to that direction I’m thinking of which is your school and your early education.

R:        Um hm.

I:          But let’s keep on track with the War,

R:        Um hm.

I:          Where you went from that point to Okinawa.  What was your experience there?
R:        At Okinawa?  Uh, I had some very, um,




Very uh, vivid experiences on Okinawa, um.  They uh, some of the experiences that I remember uh, mostly uh, involve times that I, um, was assigned from my unit to go to another unit, to go on, on patrols with that unit, either combat patrol or a reconnaissance patrol.  Of course, reconnaissance patrol, uh,



You go out and you locate the enemy and uh, find out his strength and where he is and different things about the enemy.  But you don’t uh, you don’t uh, you don’t engage in combat with him on a reconnaissance patrol.  So uh, I went a number of times on reconnaissance patrols. And also on, uh, combat patrols, uh.  Combat patrol, you’d find the enemy, and you attempt to uh, destroy the enemy.



Uh, one particular patrol that I remember involved uh, involved a uh, a ridge cause there are hills and ridges.  That’s where most of the battles were fought.  But uh, this was on a ridge called uh, Takeesha Ridge.  And uh, usually I don’t remember the names of these places.  But somehow or other, this name just, uh, it,



I don’t have to think about it to recall it.  It’s just there.  It was called Takeesha Ridge.  And I remember.  We went out looking for the enemy.  And uh, our mission was to destroy the enemy uh.  So, uh, we found the enemy, uh, as we came over the top of, uh, this ridge.  And we began to come down the other side, uh.  They we discovered that the enemy was there because he opened up with all sorts of uh,



Of uh, weapons, uh, machine guns and mortars and whatever else he had on hand.  Uh, the other thing we discovered was that uh, that the enemy had uh, probably in years gone by uh, dug trenches uh, on the side of the hill of the ridge that we were on.  And uh, the uh, machine guns were zeroed in on these trenches.  So uh, if you tried to take cover in these trenches,



Well, you were dead uh.  And uh, so we were pinned down.  The unit that I was with was pinned down for I don’t remember how long, uh, at least two days, maybe three days um.  During that time, um, probably right, maybe a few hours after our encounter with the enemy, uh, the antenna of my, uh, backpack radio was destroyed, shot off.



And uh, couldn’t send me the message.  So, we needed uh, we needed to get a message out, uh, for um, reinforcements or for an air strike uh, for an artillery strike.  But couldn’t do it, uh.  The radio just won’t work without an antenna, uh.  But uh, as you recall, I had stated that we had been trained in various aspects of communication. And one of those was uh, field wire.  Of course, with field wire, uh,



You have uh, you have wire cutters and other instruments there, uh, tools.  And uh, you have wire, uh.  Of course, we didn’t carry a large uh, drum of wire all the time.  But I did always have some wire and the other tools.  So, with these, uh, I was fortunate enough to repair the antenna where I could get a message out, um.  I sent a message.



Of course, the message originated from uh, from the commanding officer which uh, I think, was a Lieutenant.  He may have been a Captain.  But uh, he uh, gave me the message.  He had it written down in English.  And uh, I sent it out in the Navajo code.  And uh, in just a few minutes, a very short time, uh, the Marine Corps sheriffs came over



and uh and made the airstrike and saved the day for us.  Uh, we had code talkers uh, with every division, at every level of the division.  And then we had code talkers on command ships and on all other kinds of ships, uh.  But uh, I was talking to uh, another code talker a few years ago.



And he was telling me some of his experience uh, on a command ship at Okinawa.  And uh, he said, uh, he said I received this message uh, one day, I’ll just let that ring,

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

R:        Anyway, I received this message one, he said I received this message one day.



That came from a Navajo code talker and was requesting an air strike because they had been hit down by the enemy.  And so, I said well, that was me, you know.  I’m the one that sent that message, uh.  But anyway, uh, so uh, so the enemy was hit by the airstrike.  And most of his uh, fire power was knocked out which enabled us to uh



Overcome that enemy.  But during that time, uh, many, many of our men uh, were killed.  Others were wounded, and some, at least one that I know of, uh, had no physical wounds.  But it was an emotional thing.  And sometimes that’s more severe than uh,



than wounds that you can see.  But they had to carry this man, uh, this Marine off of that ridge cause he was what you might call a basket case.  And so that’s, that’s the way that war is.

I:          What was the name of the code talker that you

R:        His name was uh, he was a tribal judge for many years.  Uh, I can’t think of it right now.  I know it, but I can’t think of it, yeah.

I:          That’s interesting.  That was just



A few years ago that you learned or had that knowledge.

R:        That’s right.  Uh, his name was William D. Socci.  He changed his name.  I don’t know if he changed it from something else to Socci or from Socci to something else.  But that was his name.

I:          That’s a great story.  How many men would be in that unit that you were in?
R:        Oh, probably uh, probably 70, maybe 90.



I:          And were you the only code talker in that group?
R:        Yes.  See, uh, code talkers were usually assigned in pairs to uh, different units.  Like uh, like uh, if it was a battalion, uh, or a regiment, uh, there’d be two code talkers at uh, a battalion, and maybe two, maybe three at regiment.  And then as you go on up the line to a division, uh, level,



Headquarters, then you’d have maybe a dozen or more at division level.

I:          So um, on this particular one, it was just you?
R:        Yes.  My counterpart, uh, we would uh, we would alternate.  One would stay with the unit, uh, headquarters, and the other would go with the unit going out into the field.



This is on the, on the patrols that I’m talking about.
I:          So, if something had happened to you, that whole unit could have been decimated.

R:        Uh, that’s true, uh.  That’s true.  But um, it would have been more difficult for that unit. But I feel that they still could have won that battle uh, because there’s always a way. I mean you could send a runner. He’s gonna take a little more time, maybe a lot more time.



And he may not get through the first time, uh.  But eventually you’re gonna get through.  And uh, uh, I don’t know.  Americans just have a tenacity that you’re gonna win this battle.

I:          I understand the Japanese had quite a tenacity as well.

R:        Yes, they did, uh.  They were a real match.

I:          So, after Okinawa, how long were you in combat there?



R:        Uh, Okinawa I understand, was uh, the longest battle of the Pacific.  And uh, also the bloodiest battle of the Pacific, um.  Of course, Iwo Jima was very bloody and so were many of the islands like Tarwon, Saipan and um, other islands.  But uh, because of the duration of the Battle on Okinawa, it was uh, it was



Reported that it was one of the, it was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific.  And it uh, went for, I think it was three months uh, give or take a little bit, of time.

I:          You were very young.
R:        Um, I was 17 when I went in.  So, I was about 18.

I:          Were you scared?
R:        Uh, actually I wasn’t, uh.


I didn’t know enough of what was going on, uh, to uh, to really assess the situation.  I suppose that that’s the way it was uh.  But I don’t remember uh, having been afraid or scared or frightened.  But I probably was because uh, you know, the brain has a way of blocking out some things that uh, are unpleasant to remember.



And so, I think probably I was.  And uh if I was, it was probably not at the time that we were encountering the enemy but at a time that we were encountering friendly fire.  Or it just seemed to me that friendly fire just seemed so much more devastating than enemy fire.

I:          What’s friendly fire?

R:        It’s uh, fire from our own troops, like from uh,



from a battleship for instance or from one of our own artillery units that have um, have gotten the wrong coordinates and are firing on uh, on uh, their own men.  That’s friendly fire.

I:          Does that happen?
R:        Oh yes.  It happened a number of times uh,  And that uh, that uh, what we’re talking about uh, being afraid, uh,



If I ever was afraid, well, it probably was in one of those times, uh.  But I, I wasn’t afraid in the way that uh, I wanted to run off or hide or something like that, uh.  It was just, I don’t remember, I can’t describe it.  But uh, there probably were other uh, incidents uh, where similar things occurred that uh, you just don’t remember.



I:          When friendly fire would occur, would you quickly get on the radio?
R:        Absolutely, yes.  And uh, there was a time before code talkers that uh, the Japanese would come on the radio and uh say, uh, you’re on the wrong coordinates.  Change it to a different one, and they would put it on our men.



And uh, so uh, they rule became, uh, if uh, if you receive any radio communication requesting, uh, fire or a cessation of a fire or a movement of that fire to another coordinate, uh, don’t receive it unless it’s in Navajo code because it could be coming from, from the enemy.  And the Japanese had many, many of our men that had,



That had uh, gone to Ivy League colleges and universities in America, and they could speak the language very fluently.  And they would come on the radio and give this misinformation.  So, the rule became uh, only Navajo code messages for uh, requesting fire or ceasing fire or relocating the fire.

I:          So, after Okinawa, what happened?


Was that your most memorable battle experience?
R:        Yes, yes that was.  In fact, uh, in fact, that was my only uh, my only battle experience.  It was   my baptism of fie came out of Okinawa, uh.  Before that, it was just getting ready for, for the battle, whatever, whatever the battles might turn out to be.  Uh, after Okinawa, we went to uh, to China.  But we didn’t do, we didn’t do code talking in China.



We served as uh, general Marines in China.  That was where the Communists were attempting to take over, uh, the nation.

I:          And so that, when was that that you arrived in China?
R:        That was uh, when was that?  Let’s see, 40, ’45 the War ended.  So, it was uh, it was um, probably during the ending months of uh, 1945.


I:          So, it was after that bomb had been dropped?
R:        Yes.

I:          So, how long did you stay in the service?  When were you discharged?
R:        I was discharged from the Marine Corps in 19 uh, ’46.  I remained uh, out of the military for two years.  And then I enlisted in the Army Airborne and served in the Army Airborne for a number of years.  My total service time I believe was uh, something like 15 years.



When I took a medical retirement.  I served in Korea, and I was wounded in Korea, um.  But uh, even after I was wounded, I stayed on uh, because to me, being a military person was uh, actually my boyhood dreams.  I mean, that was my aspiration, to be a military person.  And so,



Getting hit by mortars or machine gun fires and being disabled wasn’t gonna stop me.  And, I stayed on as a soldier.
I:          Tell me about your experience in Korea.
R:        In Korea.  Um, that’s where I was wounded, in Korea.  Uh, I wasn’t in Korea very long.  In my experiences in Korea, I was uh, I was in the



infantry, but I was in communications.  And uh, in Korea, my uh, my job uh, the War in Korea was different than the battles in World War, uh, II where you were out all the time, either on the front line getting off there or going to it.  But uh, in Korea, um,



the uh, the attacks were not, they were not uh, going on all the time.  They were sporadic.  The battles were sporadic.  Uh, and um, there was the um, there was the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone with the uh, North Koreans on the north side and the Chinese over on the other side also, and the Americans over on the south side.


But it wasn’t very far, we could see each other, maybe from here to that rock cliff, uh, and the steep hills.  But you see them over there.  And on these um, these um, hills, we would have uh, we would have uh, forward observers.  And uh, they would be in uh, in bunkers.  And they would be looking out over,



Over the land and observing what the Chinese were doing.  And they also had their forward observers, and they were watching us um.  And uh, so my job was to uh, to keep the uh, field communications intact.  Now uh, the enemy, one of his first, uh, objectives is always uh, communication lines.  If it’s a radio or field telephone,



Knock out the communications.  And uh, that’s what was always happening in Korea.  Um, I uh, I was uh, at one point, uh, they called it the uh, the Spring Offensive of the Chinese.  And um, they were really tearing up everything.

I:          What year was this?

R:        Um, I don’t know.  It was uh,



it was the year before the truce, um.  I’ll say 1955, but I’m probably wrong.  Uh, but anyway, uh, so they would, uh, they were coming on in, in great strength uh.  Many men were being wounded. Many men were being killed, uh.  Communications was being totally disrupted.  And uh, we really didn’t have enough, enough men, uh.  I didn’t have enough men



In my squad, uh.  And so, um, uh, I was working almost 24 hours a day.  And then finally I got some replacements.  And these were um, these were, these were just boys uh.  Of course, we’re all young.  But these were really young, uh maybe they’d just graduated from high school, some not.



They weren’t, they hadn’t graduated from high school, uh, at that point.  And this was their first experience, you know, under fire uh.  So um, one uh, one morning, early in the morning, probably about 2:00 in the morning, um, I always had a field telephone.  And I had laid down to get a few, a few um, minutes of sleep.



But the phone rang.  And uh, they said well, the phones are out, uh.  So uh, I got up and got my men together, and we went out.  We went out, and we came to um, a place uh, where there was something going on in a ditch there where the wires were laid.  There were cables.



And at that time, um, you suspected every noise that you can’t identify is the enemy.  Probably we thought, well I thought well that’s the enemy.  He’s in the ditch there, uh, where the communication lines are laid.  And uh, that’s probably the enemy.  So, uh, I threw a few uh, a couple grenades and a few rounds uh, from my rifle there.


But we didn’t stop.  We just went on, uh.  We don’t know, you know, we didn’t know whether it was the enemy or not. But if it was, we killed him.  We went on, and we’d test every so often.  And uh, if we couldn’t get back to the uh, to the switchboard, uh, then we’d, we’d know that that’s, we’d have to repair that.  But we came to a point where we couldn’t’ get back to the switchboard.  And we weren’t there very long



When uh, there was a great flash of light.  We didn’t hear a sound.  And this was a mortar shell that exploded.  And um, it hit me.  I was wearing a, um, a flack jacket so um, so it didn’t penetrate that flack jacket.  But it did, it did every place else uh, on my arms and on my legs.  And uh, so uh,



It happened so fast, I didn’t know what happened.  And uh, it didn’t knock me down.  But uh, I would begin to slowly go down.  And when I went down, I knew, I knew what happened uh.  So uh, I looked around, and I couldn’t see anybody there.  All, all the men were gone.  And so, I thought well, they must have been killed.  And so, I started calling their names.



Nobody answered.  So, I thought well, I guess that’s right. They’ve probably all been killed uh.  So, I crawled over into a ditch because I knew that they were gonna throw some more mortars in there.  And I crawled over in a ditch there, and uh, they had taken uh, my field phone.  One of them had what was holding it, and he took it.  So, I couldn’t try to call back.

I:          So, you crawled down, and the enemy had come over to you.



R:        No, no.  It wasn’t the enemy that took it.  It was one of my men.

I:          Oh.

R:        It was one of my men that took it, uh.  So, there wasn’t anything I could do, uh.  But uh, just wait there and see what happened uh.  So uh, after a while, uh, one of the other guys showed up.  He was the uh, probably the older of that group there.  And uh, I asked him uh, are all the men killed?  He said no.  He said they’re sitting up there uh, by that tank.



There was a tank up on a hill that we had come by that tank.  So. I told him you go up there to that tank and uh, you uh, you use their radio, whatever it is, and you call into the Aid Station and tell them get a medic out here, uh. So, he did.  And they came in a little while, uh, and put me aboard that thing.

I:          What were your injuries?
R:        Uh, I uh,



I had uh, practically uh, it had practically severed my leg below the knee on my right side, my right leg, practically severed it.  I had injuries all up and down on my thighs and on this arm here, uh.  And when I got to the Aid Station, uh, which was uh, I don’t know, maybe five or six miles, from uh, where I was wounded, uh, my Lieutenant was there.



Uh, he was about the same age I was, maybe I think about 24 years old.  And uh so, uh, the way I remember it, uh, I could just see blood every place.  But uh, as I think about it, I thought well, it probably wasn’t all my blood, but others coming in there.  But, but he was really, uh, shaken by, by what was., what was happening uh, particularly to me because I was in his unit there.



And uh, so he said Sergeant uh?  He says you gonna be alright, but he was crying.  He said you’re gonna be okay, uh.  I wasn’t thinking whether I was or I wasn’t uh.  And so, uh, he said uh, Sarge, he says, I’m gonna put you in for a uh, Bronze Star for this.  I never got a Bronze Star. I don’t know what happened there.  But then I went to various, I got the,



I had the privilege of riding on the MASH helicopter into a MASH hospital unit.  They took me into the uh, company aid station um.  Man, that’s really the last thing I remember for I don’t know how long. I woke up on the um, hospital train.  And I saw one of my men that I had been with.  He was on there.



And he’d been wounded, very slightly, uh.  And uh, so he’d picked up a bunch of uh, of x-rays, and he looked at them and, and he said you’re not hurt very much.  He said you’re gonna be okay, be up walking around.  But uh, but uh he must, of course, he didn’t know how to read those things anyway, uh.  And uh, it didn’t turn out that way.  But um, the next thing um, major thing I remember is being in the tent.



It seemed to be a very large tent uh, with hardly any light in it at all.  And um, doctors coming by my bedside, uh, sort of uh, like the bed was here, whatever it was, and they’d come in and walk kind of a little distance away, and they’d walk by.  They wouldn’t come close, but they’d look over.  And uh they’d make little noises like say hm,



Something like that.  And they’d go on.  And then uh, a nurse came, came up behind them, and she came over.  And uh, she took my hand and she said Chief, you’re gonna make it.  And uh, that probably was encouragement there, although I didn’t know much about it, uh.  But uh, for a long time,



I would think about why were the lights so dim.  And then I came to acknowledge that it wasn’t the lights that were dim, not in that tent.  It were my lights that were going out.  So, that uh, that’s the way that was.  But uh, they didn’t go completely out.

I:          So, you were basically just sort of semi-conscious.

R:        Yes, that’s right.

I:          Uh, what about uh, when you finally came to, what was the extent of your injury?



R:        Um, the extent of my injuries, well um, I went to uh, to a regular hospital in some other place in Korea.  It was in a building.  And they brought a lot of the wounded there in a school bus that was fixed up with uh, liters.   And there were a lot of wounded soldiers.  So uh, we got there about noon, uh.



They took us off, and I remember they took me and, and put me in a hall.  And everybody’s gone to lunch.  So, I’m just there in the hall for a lunch period.  And uh, then when they came back from lunch, uh, they pushed me into this room with a big light on it there.  It was a surgery room I guess, had a big light there.  And um, then uh,



Next thing I knew, I uh, I woke up after they had done some surgery.  And uh, the doctor came and said Sergeant, uh, got good news and bad news.  He said uh, he said the um, the good news is uh, I forget how he put that. He said uh, the good news is that you’re on your way out of the Army.  And uh, I forget what he said the bad news was, uh.



But that wasn’t good news to me, you know. I was a career military.  And uh, so I told him that’s not good news for me. I said I’m gonna continue.  I’m a career military person.  So, that was that.  And uh, I went to a number of other hospitals, spent a year in Walter Reed Army Hospital in D.C.

I:          A year?
R:        Uh huh, a year there.  Uh, and um then, but you know,



Uh it, uh, it wasn’t devastating to me.  It was just uh, just a hinderance uh.  And so, I elected to stay on in the service.  And I did for a number of years after that.  And got back on my feet and was ready to go again.

I:          So, you healed.
R:        Oh yes.

I:          You said your leg was almost severed?
R:        Yes, it was.  And they had to amputate it in the hospital.

I:          They did?



R:        Um hm.

I:          So, you have a prosthetic?
R:        Yes, on the right, on my right leg.

I:          Well, you certainly wouldn’t know it.  You walk beautifully.

R:        Um, sometimes I forget it myself.  Uh, my parents um, they uh, back in those days, Navajos uh, had large flocks of sheep.



So, my parents had large flocks of sheep, uh.  But they also um, sold uh, Navajo or Indian arts and crafts, things like this bolo, uh, silver and turquoise jewelry, uh, Navajo rugs and so forth, uh.  That was before the uh, the freeway came in, Interstate highway.  And the traffic was a lot slower, and people, you know, you could have uh,



Roadside stands.  So, they did.  And that was one means of their making livelihood there um.  And uh, I had uh, I think it was six brothers and one sister.  Of my six brothers, um, I think all of us served in the military at one time or another.  There were three of us



That uh, served as Navajo code talkers.

I:          Really?
R:        Yeah.  But uh, it was classified, and we couldn’t talk about it for 26 years after the War ended.  And so we never talked to each other about that.  We just assumed that uh, that we did also.  But we never did discuss it, uh, never talked to our parents about it,



Never talked to anybody about it, uh.  It was just something we just didn’t talk about because that’s what uh, the order was.  My mother’s name was uh, Desbah, DESBAH.  That’s a common Navajo name for a girl, Desbah.  And uh, my father’s name was uh, Orville.  That’s my middle name.

I:          So, did he have an Indian name as well that called him?



R:        His name was Bez.

I:          What does that mean?

R:        Nobody knows.  Uh, nobody really knows.  But uh, some people that I’ve talked to, uh, have said that that means, uh, handsome.  And they would say that uh, at certain times he would uh, put on his uh, his uh, fancy clothing and so forth uh, like when he’s going to a rodeo or something like that.



And uh, and uh that uh, they named him after that.

I:          And what about your grandparents?  Do you remember your grandparents?
R:        Uh, I don’t remember them. I remember some things about them.  But I don’t remember them. I was talking with uh, another relative, maybe it was a cousin, not too long ago.  He’s telling me uh, of his um, doing research in family tree


which is very unusual for a Navajo to do that.  But he was talking about that, and he was telling me about um, about my grandfather.  And uh, you know, I had great respect for my grandfather.  But when he told me about my grandfather, that he served as an Army scout against his own people, then I don’t have respect for him anymore because that’s like, it’s a turncoat.



And uh that’s, that’s about all I know about him, that he served as an Army scout.

I:          And that is bad?
R:        Yes.

I:          He was gone before.

R:        A long time before me, yes.  Now my uh, my uncles uh, I remember three of them. I think two of them were medicine men.  And uh, I was uh, I was scheduled.



Or set aside to live with one of them, uh.  And he would train me to be a medicine man cause back in those days, you would begin training when you were very young, and you continue until you’re about 30 years old, before you, you know, you’re, you had your credentials to be a medicine man, uh.  So, I was scheduled to do that.  But uh, he died before I got of an age that I was to go with him.



So, I never became a medicine man.  But um.  And so, um, school, school was an interesting place.

I:          Yes, tell me about that.

R:        Well, um, I began in school at a public school not far from here.  Uh, when I reached uh, I think it was the 7thgrade, um, I went to um,



to a boarding school, a Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School.  And uh, after I went there, soon after I went there, my brother uh, went there also.  And uh, so uh, I was in 7th grade, and he was maybe in 5th grade.
I:          Had you learned English by that time/
D:        Uh, well we were bilingual.

I:          In the beginning.

D:        From the beginning, yes.



Now, uh, this is called the uh, the uh, I-40 corridor here.  Is it, that’s what it’s called now.  And uh, the people that live in this corridor, uh, are mostly bilingual because there’s a proximity to uh, to the border town in Gallop and Holbrook and uh, a lot of uh, English-speaking, uh,



people traveling through, uh.  So, most people are bilingual here.  But uh, you get back further, say uh, Monument Valley and Navajo Mountains and places like that, uh, in the interior, uh, not, uh, not all people are bilingual there.  But we were, we were bilingual.

I:          So, you didn’t have the experience of being taken and told not to speak.
R:        Yeah.  I didn’t have that experience.


And uh, both the experience of being informed of uh, the prohibition of speaking the language and uh, the punishment. I experienced both of those uh.  And um, usually, uh, when one of the Navajo kids would speak Navajo language, and they weren’t all just little kids.  Some weren’t enrolled in school until they were 16,



17 years old, uh.  But they would, uh, speak the Navajo language, uh, to help uh, another student uh, who wasn’t bilingual and uh, it was at a loss to understand what was going on.  And then you’d try to help him there.  And uh, that’s usually the way we were getting into trouble.  But then on the other hand, there were people, there were youth that uh, that um, you know,



Would be bent on getting into trouble.  And uh, they would speak it just to sort of opposition to authority.  And they would get in trouble.  And that would become habitual.  And they would get, uh, more severe punishment.  Of course, the punishment, the initial punishment was just getting your mouth washed with, uh, lye soap.  If that didn’t work, then uh,



Then they’d strap you with a belt or something.  And if that didn’t work, well then if you’re really, really bad and habitual at it and uh, then you would be put in a basement.  If that still didn’t work, then you’d be put in a basement and strapped more severely.  The most sever forms of punishment, uh, were rather rare, but they did happen.



I:          And that was in your grade school?
R:        Uh, yes, uh huh.

I:          Was that a public school?
R:        No.  Public schools had no prohibition against the language.

I:          So, the grade school you went to first was an Indian school.

R:        No, it was a public school.

I:          Oh, it was a public school.

R:        It was a public school.  I didn’t go to the government school until I was in the seventh grade.
I:          Oh, I see.  So, you were in the public school with Anglo and native.



R:        You know, there were Anglo and uh, and native Americans, and there were, at that time there were many uh, Spanish or Mexican people that worked on the railroad that went to the school also.

I:          I see.  So, that didn’t, so, you didn’t have that prohibition.

R:        Not, not in a public school.

I:          So, then you were gonna then, at seventh grade.

R:        Um hm.  Yeah, seventh grade is when that experience came into being.



I:          So, why was it?  Was that just because you were moving up to the next level that you went to that school?  Or why did you go?

R:        I don’t know when it was, if it was a decision of uh, my parents.  And I don’t really know what it was.  It had something to do with economics.  Probably did.

I:          So, how far away was the school that you went to?
R:        It wasn’t a long distance.  It was uh, it was in what is now known as Fort Wingate



which is east of Gallop, um.  But when I went there, my brother and I and uh, we were not in the grade level that, uh, that the rest of the kids were.  Of course, see, I was in seventh grade.  And I was in the seventh-grade classroom.  All the kids were in seventh grade in that school.



But it was not the seventh grade according to the standards of the school that I came from.  It was uh, probably fourth grade.  And uh, the teacher didn’t put you where you can be challenged to uh, a higher grade.  She didn’t do that.  But uh, she said well, uh, you already know all this, so you can just go out and play.  So, we played every morning till noon.  It was a vocational school in the afternoon.



So, we played all morning, my brother and I.  And then in the afternoon went to vocational school which was more play.

I:          So, it was like a vacation.

R:        Yeah.

I:          But not a whole lot of learning.

R:        Very little, very little learning, yeah.  If they’d put us where we could be challenged, then it would have been alright.  But they didn’t’ do that.    But uh, a lot of the code talkers came out of that school.


I wouldn’t say most of them, but a lot of them did come out of that school.  I enlisted in the Army before I graduated, not the Army but the Marine Corps before I graduated.  But while I was in the Marine Corps, uh, I still had the searching mind.  And uh, I got to know a Marine that was very intellectual.  And uh, so,


I’d sort of pick his brain whenever I could, um.  I learned additional things in English uh, and in Math and so forth and which uh, which prepared me, I took a test, like a GED test.  But it wasn’t a GED test.  It was uh, it was um



A military test for high school completion. I took that test during my high school there.  And uh, then went on to uh, Bible Seminary and uh, got the Bachelors and a master’s there and um,



To Christian college in Ohio where uh, I got a PhD.  Uh, yeah.  It uh, you know, you get to really understand that without it, uh, you’re not gonna go very far.  It was a Navajo Chief that uh, spoke to the head.


And he said the education is a ladder.  He said picture yourself down at the bottom of a canyon with a steep sheer cliff.  And he said education is the ladder to the top uh, of that cliff there.  He said climb that ladder.

I:          Who was that Chief?  Do you remember who that was?
R:        Um, it was Manulito, Chief Manulito.

I:          Did you feel like being a code talker helped catapult you to this place



where you are, that experience?

R:        Well, uh, the overall military experience uh, was very helpful, yes.  It was great maturing.

I:          Do you think that that had an effect on the Navajo people itself, the experience of the War and bringing the Navajos



Into the War in that way?
R:        Well, it uh, it certainly had uh, an effect on uh, on those that uh, went into the military uh.  Everything uh, most everything that we experienced was uh, had been up to that time foreign to us. It introduced us to uh, to other cultures that uh, we probably knew may have existed but weren’t really positive about them.



And knew very little uh.  It uh, it uh, gave us um, gave us knowledge of um, how to interact with other people and uh, and opened our eyes in so many other different ways, uh.  It uh, it let us know that um, we could do more than uh, what people had thought we could do, that uh,



That uh, life could be more than, than simply herding sheep which, uh, you know, uh, that was really a part of uh, of the Navajo life, uh.  And uh, and it wasn’t something we disdained.  But it was uh, it was something that uh, had no real, real productive, uh, end, uh,  no productive goal.



And uh, of course, we didn’t realize that this was a War.  But when we went to uh, into the War, uh, we realized that uh, there were many opportunities out there.  And then with the uh, with the GI Bill, uh, that afforded the opportunity to uh, fulfill uh, our educational uh, goals and objectives, uh.  And so that’s, that’s



What the War did for those that went there.  And for those that didn’t, it uh, it uh, it just simply um, showed that there were many, many things that uh, we could take, uh, cease the opportunity uh, on those things.

I:          So, how were you treated in the service?  Were you treated as an equal?  Did you feel any kind of barrier there,



any kind of uh, discrimination?

R:        I didn’t feel any discrimination.  Someone asked um, I think it was uh, when they were filming, uh, Hollywood versus our history, History vs. Hollywood, something of that sort.  And they had several code talkers there.  And one of the questions was uh, what you asked.


Was there any discrimination?  And uh, how did you feel when uh, people called you Chief?  And so, I remember one of the fellows saying, he said well, at first uh, I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it.   But then he said, when I thought about it a little bit, I thought boy, that’s good. He said when I came in, I was just a brave.  But now I’m a Chief.  We were misunderstood.  But uh, we misunderstood our counterparts also.



Um, the uh, the Anglo boys, the quiet boys, uh, had the idea that uh, you know, we were expert uh, bow men, and we could use a bow and arrow and hit the target, bulls eye every time.  But the fact was that we had never used bows and arrows.  We didn’t know anything about them.  And so uh, one day



In Oceanside, California near Camp Pendleton, uh, we were out  on leave for the evening.  And there was a carnival going on.  We went to that carnival, uh, a group of us.  They were Navajo boys, Navajo Marines and white Marines.  And uh, so, uh, the guy there, the place where they had bow and arrows to shoot to get a prize.  So, we were standing around looking, and nobody wanted to do that, uh.



And so, some of the white boys kept saying to us, uh, show ‘em how to do it, Chief.  And uh, then they kind of narrowed in on one particular fella, uh, who later became uh, the uh, the Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, uh, which is present today, uh.  And uh, so they said to him Chief, pick it up and show ‘em how to do it.


And he, course, he didn’t know how to do it, uh.  So, he picked it up, and that arrow went who knows where.  And that’s, you know, we were misunderstood in that way, uh.  And then on our side, you know, uh, white is right.  Not everybody felt that way.  But uh you know, you could, you didn’t like, cheat or steal or do any of those things, uh.



You lived a decent life.  Well, uh, those ideas didn’t last very long. I mean, they would dissipate real quickly.  And when we found out that our desires and wants and so forth and our failures, uh, were all the same.  We were alike in so many ways.  So uh,

I:          That was a good, a good life learning experience.

R:        Yes, it was.



Now, uh, there probably was some discrimination.  But uh, it would usually come from someone who uh, was a little dysfunctional themselves and uh, just came from uh, from a background that would enhance that.  Just cause you put on a uniform doesn’t mean that you’re a good Marine or a good soldier.



You carry over some of the things out of your background uh.  But in the uh, in the ghettos or the big city or whatever, uh, with all the hoodlumism going on, and that would carry, you’d find some people like that.  And with uh, the Navajos, same thing you just did there.

I:          Um hm.  People are people.

R:        You’re right.

I:          Of course, that was, I guess, created out of ignorance of course.



R:        Well,

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

R:        Sort of, um.  But that goes back to uh, to why it was a prohibition against speaking your native tongue, uh.  Not so much a prejudice, uh.  But there is that bit of prejudice there.  But it was uh, the idea of the Federal government, people in the Federal government,



That uh, we need to annihilate the Native American population.  And uh, various methods were tried, uh.  And one of these methods was if you get rid of the language, then that’s a big step towards annihilating the population.  And that was one reason for that language prohibition.  And other things that happened also.

I:          A long walk.



R:        It’s a long walk, yeah.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

R:        Yeah.

I:          Lots of things.

R:        Yeah.  Another one was where the government passed legislation that Native Americans could claim 160 acres, much like the Homestead Act.  And um, that was to get the 160 acres under the control of an individual Indian.



And because uh, his culture was different and didn’t recognize land ownership, then he wouldn’t understand that.  He wouldn’t understand that he owned that land.  And so, uh, the ranchers, many of the ranchers were behind this.  Then the ranchers would come in and get that property from him, uh, with uh, a little bit of trickery.  He wouldn’t’ know that he was selling, or could



Sell it and so forth, uh.  But uh, but he would get rid of it.  And it would become uh, the property of the ranchers then.  And he wouldn’t have any place to go.  But you know, prejudice, uh, is on every side.  It’s on every, each side.  It’s not on, it’s not on with uh, one race people.

I:          That’s true unfortunately.

R:        Yeah.



I:          Well, I can’t think, can you think of any other additions that you’d like, any other special stories that you have that were poignant in your life, in your growing up?

R:        Well, um, I don’t think of any right off, uh.  But I do think of uh, another incident, uh, on Okinawa.  And uh, that was, that involved a,



not a patrol.  But it was uh, it was a um, an assignment to um, take a certain hill where the enemy had occupied that hill.  And so, uh, our commanding officer said we have to take that hill tonight because if we don’t in the morning, they’re gonna pin down and uh, take us.



So, there was a, I suppose you’d call it a patrol organized to go up that hill that night and take it, kill all the Japanese up there.  So uh, I was assigned to uh, to go with that patrol.  And so that uh, that day, it was before nightfall we started out.



And we went a certain distance uh where there was a lot of cover.  Again, we came to a place where there was no cover at all.  There was no trees, uh, no boulders, hardly anything.  And so, when crossing that area, uh, the enemy began shelling us.  And so, we couldn’t cross.  We got nearly all annihilated. So uh, we withdrew.  And by the way, uh, the Marines never retreat.



They uh, advance in the opposite direction and regroup.  They can never retreat.  I can tell you some stories about that, but I’ll just go on with this story.  So uh, it was decided that uh, we would wait until darkness and then, uh, cross that area and have, uh, radio silence.  All night until we got to the top.



So, then we wouldn’t know that we were out there.  And so, that’s what we did.  Went across that open area, started up the side of this hill, some of those hills are more like mountains.  And uh, the next uh, the next morning just when the, uh, day was beginning to break, they came up on top of the, uh, on top of that mountain, or that hill.



And when you see the Japanese there.  They’re making breakfast, getting ready for breakfast, uh.  So, the officer in charge was the commander and began firing upon them which we did.  And, but uh we found out pretty quickly that uh, they had more firepower than we did, and they had more manpower than we did.  And uh, that we needed uh, reinforcements or we would be overrun.



So uh, the commanding officer wrote out a message about uh, what was happening and uh, that we needed reinforcements.  And he suggested that uh, since we needed them right now, we can’t wait till night.  We need them right now.  Uh, he suggested that uh, get a number of tanks



And put as many Marines as you could in each tank which was maybe three or four Marines in each tank and come on up that hill uh, which is what they did.  And so, uh, I don’t know, there were about 10 tanks maybe, they may have gotten four Marines in each tank.  So, there were 40 additional uh, men there.  And they brought those up.



And so, with those men, we were enabled to overpower the Japanese and take that hill that morning.  But uh, there again, another incident where the code, Navajo code was used uh, for, if the Japanese could have decoded our message, they would have known exactly what we were gonna do.  And uh, they would have brought in other means to thwart.



The tanks from coming up there.  So, they didn’t know.  And so, tanks came up, troops were there, and we annihilated them.

I:          Saved the day.
R:        They saved the day, yeah, that’s right.

I:          What point did you leave the service?
R:        I was uh, stationed in um, Fort um, Carson, Colorado, by Colorado Springs.  And uh so, it was uh,



Where I could request a medical retirement any time I wanted to.  And uh, I did.  And I was retired, medically retired.  The reason that I requested medical retirement wasn’t because I no longer wanted to be in the military. I still was in love with the military.  But the reason was that uh, in the, in the



Time between, I was over in Korea, and I got back, uh, to Fort Gordon, Georgia. In Fort Gordon, Georgia, um, I became a Christian.  And uh, after I became a Christian, I felt uh, in my heart uh, God’s call to me uh, to be a minister of the Gospel.  And uh, that’s where I, of course the



Medical retirement.  And so, I got that, and I uh, still a soldier.  Different uniform.  But I’m still a soldier.  We had been married for uh, for uh 53 years.  And I’ve been a preacher of the Gospel for uh, 48 years.  So, we were married, uh, before I went to Korea.



I:          Do you have children?

R:        Uh, yes.  When I went to Korea, we had one son, uh.  We have five children now, four sons and a daughter.