A World War Two veteran who used his Native American language to thwart enemies of the United States spoke about that era in Dubuque last night. Dr. Samuel Billison, president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, was among 421 American Indians who translated U-S radio communication into unbreakable code using their language. At the time, Billison says he never considered it a clandestine operation that had a great impact on the war effort. He says “We just thought that we were out there fighting with the Marines and not until 1968 when the code was declassified, all of the sudden people were saying ‘Hey, code talker, come here, we want to honor you’ and we thought ‘Gee, what did we do?'” The effort was the subject of a major Hollywood movie called “Windtalkers” starring Nicolas Cage in 2002. Billison says it was a relatively accurate film and he enjoyed it.The little-known Navajo language is very complex, uses no alphabet and was never broken by the Japanese. The code talkers took part in virtually every Marine assault in the Pacific theatre from 1942 to ’45. Billison says he’d always wanted to be a U-S Marine, thanks in part to the efforts of an Iowa-born actor. While in high school, he admired Madison County native John Wayne’s war movies where he depicted Marine war heroes.
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