Passing secret information to the right people at the right time – without disclosing that information to anyone else – is a tricky business. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, the United States realized that the Japanese already had agents in place who could intercept American codes and messages. What the United States needed was its own unbreakable code.
A civilian engineer by the name of Philip Johnston, who had grown up in and around a Navajo reservation as the son of missionaries who worked there, proposed that the United States use Navajo as the basis of a code that the Japanese would not be able to decipher.
In simulated combat tests, Navajo code talkers – or wind talkers as they later became known – could encode, send, and decode messages in just 20 seconds. Encryption machines in use at the time could take as long as 30 minutes to do the same. The code talkers had found a way to fulfill the communication requirement of the U.S. military that was faster and tougher to crack than any other comparable technology of the time.
Bilingual Navajo speakers were soon being recruited by the United States Marines to fulfill communications roles. During the battle of Iwo Jima, six Navajo code talkers worked 24/7 in support of Major Howard Connor. They sent and received over 800 messages without error. After the battle, Connor said, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”
The secret Navajo code used in World War II remained unbroken throughout the war, and the involvement of the Navajo as codebreakers was not declassified until 1968.
Fulfillment takes many forms, and the code talkers in World War II provide just one example of seeking out a clever solution to a monumental challenge.
At Ohio Valley Goodwill, we salute these historic fulfillment efforts. With nearly a century of business experience behind us, we know what it’s like to be put to the test in solving a customers’ tough fulfillment challenges. Businesses which partner with us not only benefit from lower lead times, increased accuracy, and on time product delivery, but can also become party to the larger mission of Goodwill to build more inclusive communities, where all residents can make an impact. Get in touch with us, and let’s discuss how we can handle your fulfillment needs.