During World War II, Roy Hawthorne served with the Marine Corps as a Navajo code talker – a group of about 400 Navajos who invented the first unbreakable code in U.S. history.
During his service, Hawthorne helped develop a code based on the Navajo language, a code that saved countless lives and was a key reason the Allies were able to win in the Pacific.
Growing up on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico in the 1930’s, Hawthorne attended a school run by the U.S. government. Students were strictly forbidden to speak their native Navajo language, but Hawthorne kept on speaking it anyway. While at school and at home he communicated in the language that would later lend itself to benefit the entire country.