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"My weapon was my language, and that language probably saved countless lives." (Video Interview, Part 4, 27:15)

   Keith M. Little
Image of Keith M. Little
Keith Little [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 4th Marine Division; 6th Marine Division
Service Location: Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands); Iwo Jima; Marshall Islands; Pacific Theater
Rank: Private
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After a hardscrabble upbringing, Keith Little was determined to contribute to the war effort when he learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The problem was, he was only 15 years old at the time and had to wait two years to enlist. A stranger signed for him to become a Marine, and Little signed up for the code talker program. Little witnessed some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific Theater, while helping to maintain communications with a code that the Japanese couldn't crack.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (12 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4  (105 min.)
»Transcript
Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (2 clips)
»Complete Interview  (8 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (12 items)
Reaction as a Navajo to the attack on Pearl Harbor. (-10:-16) Motivation for joining the Marines; scheming with a buddy to get a stranger to sign permission for them to become Marines. (08:04) Gathering Navajo recruits at Camp Pendleton for classes in code talking; tight security conditions; examples of the code; how he stayed in the program. (09:00)
How the Navajo code talkers sped up encoding and decoding communications. (02:40) His reaction on seeing dead Japanese soldiers: pity for a man sent off to war by his leader; feeling a marked man because he was carrying a radio; dealing with fear. (02:25) Witnessing a banzai attack on Saipan, a kind of suicide charge by the Japanese; wondering why he survived a battle. (03:33)
How the Japanese prolonged the taking of Iwo Jima with fortified defenses rather than attacking. (07:27) Nature of messages he sent in code; raising of flag on Iwo Jima, his reaction to Ira Hayes' role in that event; aftermath of the battle. (00:30) Nature of messages he sent in code; raising of flag on Iwo Jima, his reaction to Ira Hayes' role in that event; aftermath of the battle. (Part 2.) (06:34)
Lack of recognition for the contribution of the Navajos; no promotions for most of those who served; belated recognition for the code talkers in the late 1960s. (02:38) Surviving members of the original 29 recruited for the Navajo Code Talkers honored by President George W. Bush in Washington, DC; why American Indians have joined the military in large numbers. (02:31) What he would like children today to know about the Navajo contribution to the war effort; using his language as his weapon during the war; why everyone should respect the warriors in a society. (04:29)
  
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (2 items)
Explaining how Navajo code talk worked; where he was stationed in the Pacific Theater. (01:42) The importance of the Navajo contribution to the war effort. (00:54) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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