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Interview with Alfred K. Newman [10/21/2010]

Nancy Dahl:

My name is Nancy Dahl from Santa Fe, New Mexico. We're going to be speaking with Alfred K. Newman in Farmington, New Mexico. Alfred, when and where were you born?

Alfred K. Newman:

Born [birth date redacted] at Rehoboth Mission.

Nancy Dahl:

What year were you born?

Alfred K. Newman:

Nineteen twenty-four.

Nancy Dahl:

Does that make you 86 years old?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hmm.

Nancy Dahl:

You served in World War II. What branch of the service were you in?

Alfred K. Newman:

United States Marine Corps.

Nancy Dahl:

What was the highest rank you achieved?

Alfred K. Newman:

Didn't achieve anything until I was discharged.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you a private first class when youu

Alfred K. Newman:

Private first class all the way through.

Nancy Dahl:

When you were discharged, what was the rank?

Alfred K. Newman:

PFC.

Nancy Dahl:

What about awards and medals?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, I got the medals for the battles in the South Pacific.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get specific medals for specific battles?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, just for Asiatic campaign.

Nancy Dahl:

And a code talker medal.

Alfred K. Newman:

Nope, no.

Nancy Dahl:

Not when you came out. Okay, we'll talk about that later. We are in Farmington, New. Mexico, October 21 st. My name is Nancy Dahl. We have Albert's wife Betsy Newman here, Goldie Tutt. Karin and Kay may come back. And this interview is conducted for the Veteran's History Project at the Library of Congress. Alfred, where did you grow up?

Alfred K. Newman:

At Coolidge.

Nancy Dahl:

Coolidge, New Mexico.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

What were your parents' occupations?

Alfred K. Newman:

My mother was a home keeper. She did weavings later on.

Nancy Dahl:

What about your father?

Alfred K. Newman:

My step-father was a silversmith at the time.

Nancy Dahl:

Did they speak English?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, spoke English.

Nancy Dahl:

Were they fluent in English?

Alfred K. Newman:

I wouldn't say fluent but they could speak it and understood.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have brothers and sisters?

Alfred K. Newman:

I had three sisters and two brothers.

Nancy Dahl:

Where were you in line?

Alfred K. Newman:

The first born.

Nancy Dahl:

Three brothers?

Alfred K. Newman:

There was three of us, three brothers and three sisters.

Nancy Dahl:

What was your boyhood growing up on the reservation in Coolidge?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, my parents were living at the trading post during the 1930s. My step-dad, a silversmith, worked for the trader. And my mother wove rugs which were sold at the trading post to tourists that were coming through.

Nancy Dahl:

What was the name of the trading post?

Alfred K. Newman:

Coolidge.

Nancy Dahl:

Coolidge Trading Post?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

As a young boy did you herd sheep or anything like that?

Alfred K. Newman:

When I was real young, when we lived there, they sent me to a one-room school which was about a mile way.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that a Navajo school?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it was all Hispanics.

Nancy Dahl:

Did they speak Spanish?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, they spoke Spanish.

Nancy Dahl:

So do you know Spanish?

Alfred K. Newman:

I did, but I was taken out of there because I was using Spanish words instead of English. So they said you're not going to learn anything so they took me out of there.

Nancy Dahl:

How long did you go to that Hispanic school? .

Alfred K. Newman:

About a year and a half.

Nancy Dahl:

How old were you when you did that?

Alfred K. Newman:

I wouldn't remember.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were really young. Then where did you go to school?

Alfred K. Newman:

Rehoboth Mission boarding school.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that far away from Coolidge?

Alfred K. Newman:

It was an all-day trip in a wagon.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you just a youngster when you went to that boarding school?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. Nineteen thirty-two.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were like eight years old. That must have been very difficult to go as a young boy away from home.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it wasn't.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you allowed to speak Navajo at the mission school?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

What was that like? Tell me about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

For me it wasn't anything difficult. Because I knew some English enough to understood, what I need or what I want.

Nancy Dahl:

What would happen if you talked Navajo?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, at one time there was a little boy. He had just come to school. He never knew a word of English and he was having problems. And I just so happened to be there and I asked him in Navajo "What is your trouble and what do you want?" And just at that time the dormitory matron, she heard me and she right away asked me what I said. I said "I'm trying to find out what this boy wants. He wants something and he's very unhappy,: I said. "He doesn't understand English or speak. So I asked him in Navajo." And she said to me "You shouldn't speak Navajo to him. Speak English." And I said "Well, he doesn't understand." "That doesn't excuse you," she said. I didn't say any more. I said what the heck, no use talking about it. And then she said "Well, you're going to have write 500 times 'I must not speak Navajo.''' So she went to her room where they had these large rolls of wrapping paper in those days. And she tore off a piece about so long.

Nancy Dahl:

About two feet long.

Alfred K. Newman:

A yard long, I guess. And she gave me a pencil. And she said "Now you sit down at that table and start writing, "I must not speak Navajo." So I sat down and started. And she didn't say how long a time she gave me. I just took my time writing it Then I got a bright idea. I said "I can do this in much less time if! wanted to." So I got my pencil that I had in that little case that I had and I took two pencils and started writing that way.

Nancy Dahl:

That's very clever.

Alfred K. Newman:

When she happened to be around I just hid the other one and wrote with one.

Nancy Dahl:

How did that make you feel, that you were not supposed to be able to speak your own language and you were being punished for it?

Alfred K. Newman:

I had that problem when I was young. I just figure, well, it took me some time to learn. And I didn't have any feeling. To the person it was a punishment. But to me, I spoke Navajo when I shouldn't. So I'll just go ahead and do what she says.

Nancy Dahl:

Did some of the children get corporal punishment?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, a lot of them. Especially those that can speak English. They got caught. They had to go through some things, not just writing. You had to do things on weekends. They can't go out and play or anything like that.

Nancy Dahl:

Because they spoke Navajo.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

In the summertime when you weren't in school, what was your life like on the reservation in Coolidge? Did you herd sheep?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, but by that time my folks had moved back over to the old homestead. And when they put me to school, we said our goodbyes and they left and I didn't see them until - oh, I didn't get home until the end of the school year.

Nancy Dahl:

So it was a whole nine months for example that you didn't see your family?

Alfred K. Newman:

Dh, maybe once or twice is about all.

Nancy Dahl:

I would think that would be very difficult for a little guy.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, they ain't difficult.

Nancy Dahl:

You're tough, eh? It wasn't difficult. You must have had some very good friends at school? And your brothers and sisters?

Alfred K. Newman:

No brothers or sisters. We were separated. There was a separate dormitory and a big school in the middle, so we didn't associate.

Nancy Dahl:

I'm trying to get at, did you ever do sheep herding in your life?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, I did that. That's what I used to do in the summertime.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you sleep out there or did you come every night?

Alfred K. Newman:

Go home every night.

Nancy Dahl:

How did you spend your days?

Alfred K. Newman:

I'd get up at 4 o'clock. My mom says "Hey son, it's time to get up. Better get the sheep out before it gets hot." So I'd go out with the sheep. And say around 9, 10 o'clock she'd bring me a little lunch for me to eat. Then I stayed out the rest of the day until time to come home with the sheep.

Nancy Dahl:

How many sheep would you have?

Alfred K. Newman:

We started out with 16 as I remember. My step-dad's folks, it was with their herd. And they started complaining. They said "Your sheep are running around for the rest of the sheep and are a bad influence to our herd," they told us. My mother said "Bring 'em over here." So they did, and that's when I started out.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get more than 16?

Alfred K. Newman:

We had about 200.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you in charge of 200 sheep?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have dogs to help you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Just one dog that I played with all the time.

Nancy Dahl:

Is that how you passed the time of day, play with the dog?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm. Passed the day and made a slingshot and hunt rabbits while the sheep are grazing. Maybe kill a lizard or two with the slingshot. And then watch bugs, see how they live, what they do. Used to watch birds, bird nests. Find a bird nest and I'd look at them and maybe there are eggs in there and I'd check on them every time I'm in that area. Watch the little birds grow up, watch the mother brings the bugs and stuff to feed her little birds.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were really an observer of nature around you.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm, yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have any thoughts at that time about what you might do or want to do when you grew up?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

You were just very present.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. So in the fall we just went back to school.

Nancy Dahl:

And you were about 18 I guess when you went into the service. What were you doing when you graduated from school and right before you entered the service?

Alfred K. Newman:

I was still going to school in the summertime. I heard the the Marines were looking for young men, because I've read about them, the history of the Marine Corps. So I told my folks, I said "The draft's going to pick me up soon. I'd like to join the Marine Corps. If! wait long enough, they're just going to draft me and put me where I don't want to," I said.

Nancy Dahl:

Why did you want the Marine Corps?

Alfred K. Newman:

Like I said, I read about their history.

Nancy Dahl:

What was it about their history that attracted you?

Alfred K. Newman:

The place where they went for battle, where they were the fIrst troops that went into war ahead of the regular army. Just like they did the beginning of the nation back when they were having problems with England. The Minute Men, they were Marines.

Nancy Dahl:

So then there was Pearl Harbor. How did you hear about Pearl Harbor?

Alfred K. Newman:

We were getting ready to go to church at school. And the radio was on. We had a radio in the study room, they called it, sitting there listening. Some of the guys were playing little games there waiting for the church bell to ring. That's when we heard the broadcast, that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Nancy Dahl:

What was it like at that time? When you think about it, what were people saying and doing? How were they reacting?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know about the older folks, but us young guys, we didn't think too much of it. To me I figured Japan is a small country, small island, and the United States is a big country. And I just figured maybe the war will only last a year or two before they conquer Japan. But then I guess it took a little longer to where they were drafting young men.

Nancy Dahl:

So you went ahead and enlisted in the Marines. And then what? You went to San Diego?

Alfred K. Newman:

We enlisted in the Marines and had to go home. They said be back in ten days, be in Gallup. So in ten days I went to Gallup, got on the train, went to Albuquerque and got on a, I think it was a bus. We got on the bus, went to Santa Fe. And we stayed overnight. The next morning they had us go down to the place where they were taking examinations of inductees or whatever they were. We went there and had to strip down to our shorts. There were two lines. A doctor asked us questions and all that, weighed us. Asked us if we had any injuries, any disease. There's two doctors there, two military doctors there, one from the Marine Corps, one from the Army. And we filed past them. He took a look at us. And then he would say "Army" or he would make full five of them go to the army. Then he'd go to the next one, Navy. When he came to me he said "Marine Corps" so I stepped aside.

Nancy Dahl:

But you had enlisted for the Marine Corps, right?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that just luck that he said Marine Corps?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. And it took most of the day. I think we stayed there another night. The next morning all of us that came from Gallup got on the same bus and went back to Gallup. And then the recruiting officer says "You be here ten days from now." Or "This war [unclear few words including "Santa Fe" 02:30] first." So he said "You're in the Marine Corps now." So they took us back to Gallup and when we got off, he got us all together and made a little speech. I don't remember what all he said, but he said "You're in the Marine Corps now. In ten days you be here. Show up. Uyou don't, you are AWOL and you can be punished for it," he told us. So we went home and when the tenth day arrived, I went to Gallup. We had to meet at the train station. And I waited there till- well, all of us got there, all waited. Made sure that everybody was there. And about that time there was a train that pulled in and we all had to fall in line and march up to the train and get in. We went to San Diego from there.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that where you had your boot camp?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. Just a training for young recruits.

Nancy Dahl:

But that wasn't code talker.

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

You said you were there from March to November in basic training camp in San Diego. Then when did the code talker assignment come in? How did that happen?

Alfred K. Newman:

We had eight weeks of boot training?

Nancy Dahl:

Was that fun?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it isn't fun.

Nancy Dahl:

It sounds like it was pretty hard.

Alfred K. Newman:

It was hard. It was hard for a lot of guys. But they made it through. When it was over with we went to Camp Elliott for rifle training. We trained there. Had to know how to use the M-l and we had to fire the rifles and set a score. And when that was over we went to Camp Pendleton.

Nancy Dahl:

Where is that?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's in California. This is all in California. We went to Camp Pendleton, we were assigned to barracks. When we got there, the guy that was in charge - of course there were a number of them, lieutenants, captains, and all that - they got us in there and of course they gave us some more lecture. And he said "Now you don't wander around. You just don't wander off," he said. "If you want to go somewhere, be sure and let us know and we'll have an escort with you."

Nancy Dahl:

Was that for everybody that was at Camp Pendleton?

Alfred K. Newman:

Everybody there. You just couldn't take off from the barracks. The reason was, they told us that "You have a secret mission. You're not supposed to talk to any stranger and you stay here at the barracks." And they had another place for a classroom. They used to march us over there. And they had sentries around that school. They put us in there and they gave us a pencil and a tablet. Apd we had to learn the code that was made by the first group of Navajo Marines that were trained. They had made up the code. And we had to learn that, learn to say it in Navajo. We didn't have to write it in Navajo. We had to know what it meant in Navajo and write it in English. We did that for about eight hours a day.

Nancy Dahl:

That's a long time.

Alfred K. Newman:

The reason for that was we could not keep notes. No notebooks were allowed. They gave us the paper, the pencil, and that's what we had. We had to tum it in when we got done. So we walked out of there just like the way we got in.

Nancy Dahl:

How many people were in the classroom at one time?

Alfred K. Newman:

There were 68 of us that entered, and that's one platoon. Of course we weren't all in one class. We were separated about half, I guess.

Nancy Dahl:

Was all of Camp Pendleton the code talkers, or were there other people besides?

Alfred K. Newman:

There were other Marines there that were there training too.

Nancy Dahl:

How many of the code talkers were there at the same time as you were?

Alfred K. Newman:

Sixty-eight of us and seven instructors. Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Were they part of the original 29, do you think?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

How did they approach you? Did they come to tell you it was a secret mission? Did you know that you were -

Alfred K. Newman:

We didn't know that. At least I didn't. Not unless anybody else knew, but nobody said anything. Not even in boot camp were we told that we were code talkers. We were just another alllIndian Navajo platoon.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were in the barracks with your Navajo friends.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

And they all became the code talkers?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What did it take to be a code talker? Did you have to take a test for that? What were the qualifications?

Alfred K. Newman:

That was taken care of when you were being recruited.

Nancy Dahl:

They were checking you out and you probably didn't know that they were checking you out for that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. If you're a Navajo, well then you're expected to speak Navajo. And English, they found out where you went to school and far up you went in the grades. So they knew that those that went in could speak fluently in English and Navajo.

Nancy Dahl:

So at that point you went for eight weeks training, eight hours a day?

Alfred K. Newman:

Eight weeks of boot camp.

Nancy Dahl:

How long was the code talking training?

Alfred K. Newman:

Eight hours a day.

Nancy Dahl:

For how long?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, we went in March. Let's see, March, April, May. Went in March, not all of March but maybe the last two weeks of March. And then April boot camp. And then about a couple of weeks of rifle training. And then about a week of learning how to use a radio.

Nancy Dahl:

Of course you'd have to learn the radio. What was that equipment like? Did it take two men?

Alfred K. Newman:

It would have taken more men but they only allowed two Navajos to do that.

Nancy Dahl:

Is this the TBX radio?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm. It was a radio that had a separate unit. You had a transmitter and a receiver and a generator that you hand cranked, an antenna, about twenty-some feet I guess. It had legs like that.

Nancy Dahl:

Tripod legs.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

Was this a heavy piece of equipment?

Alfred K. Newman:

At that time, those radios, they were just about that big.

Nancy Dahl:

You're saying maybe about a foot by six inches high.

Alfred K. Newman:

More than six inches high. They were clumsy.

Nancy Dahl:

And heavy.

Alfred K. Newman:

And heavy. Because two guys had to carry it. One guy had to carry the transmitter and the other one carried the receiver, and one carried the generator and one carried the antenna.

Nancy Dahl:

The two guys each took two things. So it was clumsy and awkward. So you spent a week learning how to use the radio and then the equipment. I still don't know how long the code talking school was. It must have taken quite a while to learn all that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, that's quite a while because we had to do that classwork.

Nancy Dahl:

Was it difficult to learn the code, Alfred?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. If you know Navajo - they gave you a piece of paper of what it meant and you had to study that and memorize it and be able to write whatever it meant in English.

Nancy Dahl:

Could you briefly describe what the code was, how it worked, and some examples of the code?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, like if the code was written by an officer wanting a tank support, he would write it down and give it to the code talker. The man there who would say - let's say they need two tanks. They'll say "Na-keh-cheh-tala-he net-zin." That's what he'll send back to the battalion headquarters. And the battalion headquarter would send the word to the tank division.

Nancy Dahl:

What you said in Navajo was two tanks. But the Navajos didn't have words for tanks. What would it translate as?

Alfred K. Newman:

Cheh-tala-he, turtle. Okay, it's what I said. Two cheh-tala-hes.

Nancy Dahl:

You want two turtles. So the Navajo at the other end?

Alfred K. Newman:

The Navajo at the other end, he'll write down "Two tanks needed."

Nancy Dahl:

Can you give me some other examples of the code, some words that the Navajos used to describe some of the equipment and things that were needed?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, like say they wanted artillery support, they'll ask for "Bethlo-satahe." That's a sitting gun. You know how an artillery just sits there.

Nancy Dahl:

And so the Navajos have the word for gun?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Was there something that was like a potato?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, that's a bomb.

Nancy Dahl:

What were some other things?

Alfred K. Newman:

Machine gun, aha-I-desh-toneh. That means rapid firing rifle.

Nancy Dahl:

So you had the code words for things like tanks and airplanes and bombs. But you also had an alphabet, didn't you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. An alphabet, we used three words for one letter. The same all the way down. Some only had two. The most letters that were used, we had three.

Nancy Dahl:

That was so you wouldn't be repeating the same word so the Japanese couldd

Alfred K. Newman:

It won't be repeating the same letter.

Nancy Dahl:

Could you give me an example? Let's take the letter C. What would be some words for the letter C? Or A?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, it had to be a military word. I can't think of one right now.

Nancy Dahl:

I thought they were the Navajo words and you kind of spell it out.

Alfred K. Newman:

That's what I'm saying. If you have a weapon, say, mm, I can't think of -

Nancy Dahl:

I guess the idea was, if I'm correct, that you have Navajo words for different things like airplanes, bombs, artillery, and then sometimes you had to spell things out, right?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Using the letters of the alphabet, but you had three different Navajo words, sometimes two, that stood for that letter. That's a lot of thinking, isn't it?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. At that time we drilled so much that it just came like that. But now I have trouble remembering things.

Nancy Dahl:

It's been a long time now. But you gave me some good examples and I appreciate that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, like for letter A, we used axe, ant, and then a person, aunt.

Nancy Dahl:

So axe would be what in Navajo?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't remember using it.

Nancy Dahl:

Would you actually use the English word?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Say there's a Navajo word for ant.

Alfred K. Newman:

It's like I said, the letter A, we used axe, ant, and aunt. Those three words for letter A. If the word had three A's in it or two A's.

Nancy Dahl:

When you were talking you would use the Navajo word for it.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

. I understand. What I was reading is that it didn't take very long for the code talkers to get their message to someone else.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it was fast.

Nancy Dahl:

And accurate, right?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

I read it was 20 seconds to get-

Alfred K. Newman:

Something like that, or less. Depends on the message. It may be two sentences or three sentences or something. But in the American way you had to code it over here, send it, and decode it over here. So that took some time.

Nancy Dahl:

So the speed and the accuracy was a real accomplishment and a real contribution. So you knew you were on a secret mission. Did the Navajo fellows talk among each other when you weren't in the classroom?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Nobody else was to know.

Alfred K. Newman:

Nobody else was to know. You weren't supposed to talk about it.

Nancy Dahl:

Where did you go for your active service?

Alfred K. Newman:

We didn't leave the states until November.

Nancy Dahl:

Of 1942?

Alfred K. Newman:

Forty-three. Of course it took some time before we left, but we had about three - no, more than that. About four times they called us about one, two o'clock in the morning. And we had to jump out of the bunk, get ready, pack our sea bags, pack our backpacks, get out there in the loading area in the dark, and then stand there until about before the sun came up. It's called off. That's the way they treated you. You'd get up there and get all prepared. Nope, it's called off. Four times that happened.

Nancy Dahl:

Four times and then you finally got on. Where did you go?

Alfred K. Newman:

When we got on we didn't get on till about noon.

Nancy Dahl:

You got on a big ship.

Alfred K. Newman:

Got on a big ship. Got up at four in the morning, stood out there. Finally they just let us mill around in there. We had MPs watching us so we won't wander off. And we didn't have to stand in formation so we'd just mill around and talk. Then about noon we marched aboard ship with our sea bags and backpacks. And they assigned us a bunk and the quarters. And we went up topside and we just looked around and just talking and wondering where we're going and what it would be like. About noon,the ship gave a signal and they all told us "Get down below" so we did. And then I just laid in the bunk that I was assigned. I just laid down and before I knew it I guess I went to sleep. And when I woke up and seen nothing but water and porpoises going along the side, jumping in and out of the water. I said "Uh oh." So I got up and ran topside and all I could see was just blue mountain way back there where we left. That was it. We just did nothing, guys playing cards, some reading books, some getting seasick.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get seasick?

Alfred K. Newman:

Hunh-uh. It never bothered me. I don't know how many, two weeks I think, and I didn't sail straight. We'd go this way, this this way, that way, maybe back certain kilometers, and then go again. And that was in case a Japanese submarine was lurking around. It won't keep flying away to what direction the troop ship was going. And they told us not to throw any cigarette butts, no trash overboard because the Japanese can follow that and just know exactly where you're headed. I guess they know the way the sea goes. So we got to New Caledonia.

Nancy Dahl:

How long did it take for you to get there?

Alfred K. Newman:

About two weeks. We got there and then we sat there another half a day aboard ship before they got us off. Marched us to our camp, assigned us a tent, and we just waited around there. They said "Don't run off. Stay where you are." When it was time to eat they'd blow the bugle and we'd go over there, fall in line, and got served, ate, and went back to our tent.

Nancy Dahl:

What food did you get?

Alfred K. Newman:

Just like potatoes and some meat and vegetables and stuff like that, just a regular meal. Nothing fancy. And did that for a week there. Stayed there another week. I guess in the meantime they were assigning each code talker to different divisions. They went down according to alphabetical order. And when they came to me, he said "You go to a certain Marine division." Then we stayed there about a week, I guess, another week.

Nancy Dahl:

In New Caledonia?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm. Then they shipped out out, headed for Guadalcanal. Those that were going to the Third Marine Division went to Guadalcanal. The others, I don't know where they went.

Nancy Dahl:

These were all the code talkers.

Alfred K. Newman:

There were some other Marines that went along, but we -

Nancy Dahl:

Were you always with the code talkers, in the bunks when you were on the ship, in the tents in New Caledonia?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, we were just assigned as we were in formation.

Nancy Dahl:

So the code talkers weren't always together.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Then you're going to Guadalcanal?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. We landed there - because the ship couldn't get to shore we had to climb down on the rope ladders onto the landing boats and went ashore.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that difficult to do?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it ain't difficult. But when the sea is rough, it is. I've seen guys, the landing boat would come way, almost halfway up the side of the ship and the guy thinks he's ready to step down in there and lets go and boom, by that time the landing boat has gone back down they they hit bottom of the boat there.

Nancy Dahl:

So you get to Gaudalcanal and then what?

Alfred K. Newman:

We went to Guadalcanal, unloaded all the stuff and we waited and waited some more.

Nancy Dahl:

Sounds like there's a lot of waiting involved.

Alfred K. Newman:

It is. You hurry up and then you wait. So we waited there till about maybe three, four o'clock. Then trucks came by and then there we were separated again. They called out our names and we had to get on a truck, back of the truck. The other code talkers went to different other trucks and we took off. I joined the 21 st Marines. There three of us that went there. No, four: myself, Edmond Henry, [first name unclear, last name could be "Augustine" 03 :40, track 11, CD 1]. Who's the other third guy? Oh, there was only three of us.

Nancy Dahl:

Were they Navajos?

Alfred K. Newman:

They were Navajos, yeah. And there in that tent that we were in there, there was three guys there, three Navajos. So that made six of us. There was two brothers, Zane and Joseph Tom and there was a nephew to these two brothers. His name was Johnson [sounds like "Hoswood" 04:25 Track 11 CD 1]. They were in that tent.

Nancy Dahl:

With you.

Alfred K. Newman:

They were in that tent when we got there, so we managed to have to six of us in there.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you normally always with Navajos? I guess I was confused. I thought you were not necessarily with Navajos.

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, when we were traveling and stuff like that they didn't separate us. But when we got to cam; they had us always together.

Nancy Dahl:

But the six of you were not necessarily all code talkers.

Alfred K. Newman:

We were.

Nancy Dahl:

You were all code talkers. And when you were speaking with each other, was it Navajo or English?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we spoke Navajo or English, whatever we want.

Nancy Dahl:

So they put you code talkers together and now you're in Guadalcanal. How long were you there? There was no action there yet, was there?

Alfred K. Newman:

The action was all over. The island was secured.

Nancy Dahl:

Oh, they had secured the island.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. That's where the first 29 served.

Nancy Dahl:

The first 29 code talkers served.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They served there and that's how come the Marine Corps wanted more Navajos, because the Japanese couldn't make heads or tails of the messages. Before, the Japanese knew everything what they were using. They knew how to decipher the code that they were using. And they knew all the troop movements, all the places where the troops were. And they were having a heck of a time.

Nancy Dahl:

Until the 29 got in.

Alfred K. Newman:

Until the 29 got in, and they were able to drive the Japanese off the island. So that's where the turning of the battle started, going back. The Japanese were already bombing Australia from there. So they were getting ready to invade Australia.

Nancy Dahl:

You're in Guadalcanal, and how long were you there before you took off for your nextt

Alfred K. Newman:

I joined the Third Marine Division. They had their camp there, and we had to be taught jungle training there.

Nancy Dahl:

Meaning -

Alfred K. Newman:

Meaning what the Japanese do. How they fight, what concealments they use.

Nancy Dahl:

Tell me about that. How did they fight?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, according to the guys there they said those Japanese just come running at you. They don't care. You can kill them by the hundreds. They keep coming, they said. And for concealment, they tie themselves to those great big trees, that real thick foliage where you can't see them. They tie themselves on there and wait if they know the troops are headed that way. Or if a patrol is messing around out there and they get to know what's going on, that's how they conceal themselves. Or they dig a hole down enough to either lie down or sit and use a camouflage to cover the hole. But they can see out. When you come within range, they just lift that little thing and let you have it.

Nancy Dahl:

With a gun?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm. Kill you, kill you. They don't want to say "Hey, come here." Alfred K. Newman Sr. interviewed by Nancy Dah12010

Nancy Dahl:

Did they have swords too?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, but only officers carried swords. The commissioned officers, they're the on~s that carried the swords.

Nancy Dahl:

So they were really good at ambushing.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They were good at it and they used bird sounds to signal each other. ~

Nancy Dahl:

Did you ever see any of the Japanese up in the trees hiding?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

You never saw that.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, no. That's what we were told and I was on Guadalcanal so there was no Japanese there.

Nancy Dahl:

But then you were going to go places where there were Japanese. So Guadalcanal was the training for how to deal with the Japanese soldiers and what to watch out for. How long were you there?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, three months or something like that.

Nancy Dahl:

Three months. It must have been very hot, muggy?

Alfred K. Newman:

Didn't matter. Can't complain. You can't say I want to go home.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get homesick?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. That was one thing I never had. Even in school I was never homesick.

Nancy Dahl:

You were there three months. Then what? Where did you do?

Alfred K. Newman:

Then they told us to pack up, pack your sea bags. Pack your backpack for two days' ration. So we did. And then they loaded us up in a truck, we went to shore, got on the landing boats, boarded the ship, from the landing boats into the ship.

Nancy Dahl:

Was there a name for your ship?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't remember. It was a transport ship that carried - cargo ships that they used.

Nancy Dahl:

About how many fellows would be on the ship?

Alfred K. Newman:

A whole division.

Nancy Dahl:

How many is that?

Alfred K. Newman:

I wouldn't know.

Nancy Dahl:

You got on the transport ship with two days' ration only. Go ahead.

Alfred K. Newman:

Then we started sailing and of course they had to keep you busy. Some guys got on what you call the K.P detail. Other guys do the cleaning on the deck. Some guys helped the sailors chip paint on the ship.

Nancy Dahl:

What was your job?

Alfred K. Newman:

1 was always put on guard. That was mostly what they usually called me for, guard duty.

Nancy Dahl:

Would that be walking around the ship? What were you doing?

Alfred K. Newman:

Watching areas that no personnel's supposed to go in. They had certain parts of the ship that Marines or army or other than sailors, they can't go in there.

Nancy Dahl:

So you'd stand by that certain area.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, stand there. Four hours at a time - four off and four on.

Nancy Dahl:

Four hours off, then you'd go back for four hours.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

So you never really got a good night's sleep.

Alfred K. Newman:

No. When you're tired you don't say "I can't get a good night's sleep." You pass out. Anyways, what we did until we landed on Bougainville

Nancy Dahl:

How long did you sail to get there?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, about three days 1 guess.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you zigzagging again to avoid the Japanese?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. To avoid the detection of the Japanese planes or whatever they used. And we landed about nine o'clock. Some other troops had already landed. The other assault troops ahead of us had already landed there.

Nancy Dahl:

So there was action going on there.

Alfred K. Newman:

Action going on, yeah. And from the same division that landed there and we were up behind them. And we stayed there along the shore back down. They told us to dig in, so we had to fix us a little hole to get into when the Japanese start bombing or strafing, stuff like that.

Nancy Dahl:

That's the fox hole?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What's strafing?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's when the Japanese come with them planes, firing their machine guns off the plane. Yeah, they go go right down like that, and drop a bomb if they have one. NO: So you dug a hole. How many people would be in the hole?

Alfred K. Newman:

One. That's all you need, one. But the further you go, when the battle really starts, then you have two people in the foxhole. Like there's fighting going all day. And when nighttime comes, that's when one person, if he can, without even too loud a racket and shooting and stuff like that, one person's supposed to stay awake and keep a lookout and let the other guy sleep. NO: Are you standing up in a foxhole?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, you sit down. You don't stand up. NO: You sleep sitting.

Alfred K. Newman:

You even sleep sitting down. It's the only way. Otherwise you've got to dig a long hole and a wide one to lie down. NO: So you're in the foxhole by yourself at first. Then do you move into the island?

Alfred K. Newman:

You move inland. NO: And where did you first see battle or combat?

Alfred K. Newman:

Right there walking around. Right the next day. NO: Tell me about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

We went up, we moved up, and that's when all the shooting started. And as a communication personnel, they kind of kept us back but we still had to be prepared. And we followed along, maybe carried a can of ammunition, whatever we can help with if we can. And the troops up ahead were doing alright. And I was up a little closer to the front line and my buddy was back with the communication. NO: He was a code talker?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. NO: You were not with the equipment, the radios and stuff, at that point?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. NO: Oh, you were. Okay.

Alfred K. Newman:

But I didn't have to use them because we didn't have no problem. We just moved right along. And at nighttime we just bivouaced down and waited for daylight. Of course the other companies along the side were doing the same thing, just moving up. Go so far and dig in, they tell, so you do.

Nancy Dahl:

They said what?

Alfred K. Newman:

Dig in. Settle down and prepare yourself a foxhole where you can get cover when enemy attacks.

Nancy Dahl:

What I'm getting at is the Japanese are way inland, right?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They're in the jungle.

Nancy Dahl:

And you were advancing.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

And you're with the regular troops of course.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. And like that for about two weeks. The further we went in, the worse it got. It was so thick that you almost had to chop your way through.

Nancy Dahl:

The jungle was so thick?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. You had to chop your way in there. And at one time we got strafed by our own planes because they mistook us for a Japanese company, I guess.

Nancy Dahl:

Did anybody get killed from that?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, we were lucky. But a captain in charge, I guess they got us carrying these smoke bombs, smoke grenades they called them. Told us to throw it and yell. So he just pulled the pin and threw it out there and yelled "Smoke [unclear word 0:09 track 3 CD 2] rising" and show that there;s friendly troop in the area. There was three planes that come, but they were maybe 50 feet off target.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were two weeks into advancing into Bougainville. When did you really actually start seeing some gunfire and be fired at?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, we were going along. We were told to hold up, there's a battle going up ahead. The same troops that we were with. And they were just all set up in case the enemy broke through. But that didn't happen. And then we were asked to help out, bring in the dead and the wounded. So that's what we did.

Nancy Dahl:

And you had to actually move -

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. We had to move the dead and also the wounded. Of course the wounded were taken care of by the corpsmen, Navy corpsmen that they took care of them because some of them had been wounded so bad that they needed blood.

Nancy Dahl:

Blood transfusions?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. Those that were what they called walking wounded, they walked out by themselves.

Nancy Dahl:

But then you had to go pick up-

Alfred K. Newman:

Had to go pick up the dead ones and put them on the stretcher, put them to the pickup area maybe fifty to a hundred yards back of the line. Just lay them <:Jut there and the ambulance come down, carried them up.

Nancy Dahl:

What was that like for you?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. I didn't try to be emotional or anything like that. Because you understand it's a war. You see things and you know you're going to see it.

Nancy Dahl:

But does anything prepare you for that?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

But you said you didn't get emotional. Did you just say "I can't get emotional"?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, you can't get emotional. If you get emotional and sit there and cry - I've seen some guys cry. Didn't do anything. It's the worst thing you can do. If you had a wounded person you need to carry out and you sit there and cry, what good are you to that guy? But it wasn't bad. The only other thing is, like when we landed on Iwo Jima we were going across a flat area right out on the open. The Japanese were having a field day. There were guys getting wounded, crying for help, and all that. They told you not to stop. They said "Keep going. The corpsman will take care of him.

Nancy Dahl:

I want to get to Iwo Jima, but to finish on Bougainville, is there more to tell about that? You were behind the troops and bringing out the dead fellows. Did you get into combat yourself or see it?

Alfred K. Newman:

I didn't get a chance because the things were already gone or the Japanese had already left when we got there.

Nancy Dahl:

They had left Bougainville?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, they had gone into the jungle. See, we needed to take so much land along the shore so the Navy Seabees could build a landing strip for fighters. That's what they needed. And for supplies, stuff. That's all that was needed. So we didn't have to take the whole island.

Nancy Dahl:

Were there Japanese still on the island?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, there was still Japanese still back in there somewhere.

Nancy Dahl:

So you never really saw the Japanese in Bougainville.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, I didn't.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you do your code talking assignment there?

Alfred K. Newman:

I didn't need to because we didn't have any problems. We just went along as we're supposed to go.

Nancy Dahl:

Like the regular soldiers.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

How long were you on Bougainville?

Alfred K. Newman:

We were there about a month, I guess. Yeah, about a month.

Nancy Dahl:

So basically what you had to do was kind of advance with the troops. The Japanese were already way in advance, and you had to help bring the bodies back.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Then after a month where did you go?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, we went back aboard ship and we went to Guadalcanal.

Nancy Dahl:

You went back to Guadalcanal?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we went back to Guadalcanal.

Nancy Dahl:

That was already secured.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, that was secured. That was the base camp.

Nancy Dahl:

That was the base camp then.

Alfred K. Newman:

We to wait there for more recruits to come in from the states, fresh guys. And they had to go through the same thing - training, hiking. A 20-mile hike or 10-mile hike.

Nancy Dahl:

Learning about the Japanese way of combat?

Alfred K. Newman:

Way of combat and all that.

Nancy Dahl:

So you're there just kind of waiting for the new recruits to come in.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

So you had no battles or anything there.

Alfred K. Newman:

Hunh-uh.

Nancy Dahl:

Then what did you do?

Alfred K. Newman:

Then this time we had to march to shore. I don't know, maybe five, six miles.

Nancy Dahl:

On Guadalcanal?

Alfred K. Newman:

Dh-huh. We had to march over there. And got aboard ship and then sailed for Guam. And on the way to Guam, the other division - I think it was the Fourth and the Second Division - hit Saipan,Tarawa, and what other island was there? There's three islands, and they had trouble at Tarawa. They were getting slaughtered. Of course these other islands, they expected the same thing so we became a floating reserve for the Marines that were on Tarawa and Saipan. Then we floated around there for about two to three weeks just going around in circles.

Nancy Dahl:

In case they needed you. But you knew what was going on there. You said they were getting slaughtered.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. We had to wait till everything was going good for them, so in the meantime we visited these other little islands for recreation. Got off the ship about ten in the morning and just do more drilling or whatever, and then want to go swimming in the ocean, so we did.

Nancy Dahl:

Do you know how to swim?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Where did you learn that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Just picked it up watching other people.

Nancy Dahl:

I would think it would be scary for the Navajo from the desert to be in the ocean in case you fell overboard.

Alfred K. Newman:

(Chuckles) At school at Rehoboth there was a pond that used to fill up when it rained. We used to go there and learn how to swim.

Nancy Dahl:

You said it was recreation. You were able to swim in the ocean. These were uninhabited islands?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, they were uninhabited islands.

Nancy Dahl:

Aren't we talking about a lot of men that would stop over that way?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's nothing.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were floating for two to three weeks as a reserve.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Then did you go into Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we went into Guam.

Nancy Dahl:

There was fighting going on there?

Alfred K. Newman:

That was where we got under fire.

Nancy Dahl:

Tell me about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, the fellow, that [unclear first name or maybe name of Navy ensign 0:58 track 05 CD2] Augustine and myself, we had the equipment and one Navy ensign officer. They detached us, myselfand-

Nancy Dahl:

They detached you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They detached up from the Third Marine Division. They put us with the Joint Assault Troops, they call them. And there was [unclear same name or names] Augustine and myself, we were picked to go with them, to go ashore on the first wave.

Nancy Dahl:

Dh, first wave.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. And this Navy ensign officer, I guess he already had the map of Guam and everything else with all the fortifications that the Japanese had. Because these islands were all photographed from the air. They did all that long before the invasion. They took pictures and stuff like that so it was pretty well known where all the fortifications were. And put on a map. And of course they fixed it so they gave certain numbers, longitude or latitude or whatever, and that gave the artillery people just how far to shoot and what direction and all that. And that was supposed to come from the front when we got ashore. And we landed, [same first name?] Augustine and I, with all this equipment, striding along with it, and this Navy officer, all he has was a little satchel or whatever you want to call it, and a pisto1.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have guns too?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. We had to carry a rifle.

Nancy Dahl:

So you're walking along.

Alfred K. Newman:

We weren't walking. We were running. (Chuckles) Running like crazy. There's bombs and mortars and .50 caliber machine guns going.

Nancy Dahl:

Were they shooting at you then?

Alfred K. Newman:

Just shooting any movement.

Nancy Dahl:

The Japanese were.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Were they very far away?

Alfred K. Newman:

They must have been because we didn't see them, but they were firing. We had to. There was guys getting hit, some falling, never move. And we got behind some brushes. We stayed there a little too long. I said "Let's get going, let's get going! Heck, there'll be more mortars, more machine guns, and maybe even bombs coming down," I said. And they turned and said "You Marines are crazy. Why do you want to go up there for?" "Well, do you want to sit here and get killed?" My partner and I, we took off in one direction.

Nancy Dahl:

With the radios?

Alfred K. Newman:

With the radios.

Nancy Dahl:

And left the Navy fellow there?

Alfred K. Newman:

We left him there, but he followed a little later. We took off and found a little basin in the ground and waited for him because we didn't have all that information that he had. He had the information. And he was supposed to get word from the front to where to direct the ship to shell the fortifications on the island. And we waited there and about near 8: 15 or half an hour later he showed up. Then he just sat down against a pine tree that was leaning like that. And we got busy setting up. We set up the radio and we asked him for the call signals and he was looking through it and we started to wind the generator and my partner was on the radio to get the word from the officer to get the call letters. I was grinding away while he was messing with the radio there. And all of a sudden we heard one great big explosion and I don't know how far away it landed. But anyway, the officer got a shrapnel right through the middle of his right hand.

Nancy Dahl:

The Navy officer?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, the navy officer. It went right through the center of his palm. My partner on this side got a nick on the shoulder here. And I just got ringing in my ears and dirt in my face. And I just jumped off that bench and looked at that lieutenant. He was just sitting there, "I'm hit, I'm hit, I'm hit! " Just all white as a sheet, as they say.

Nancy Dahl:

Shock.

Alfred K. Newman:

He was in shock. He just sat there and first thing I did was, run over there, strip off his first aid kit, took out all the gauze that was in there and put them on both sides of the hole and just wrap it up real right to keep it from bleeding too much. We sat there for maybe an hour talking things over, the three of us. Then he said "Well, I can't do any more for you guys. I've got to go back." And he took some kind of pain tablets I guess that they carry, took those. He kind of calmed down. And he didn't lose too much blood.

Nancy Dahl:

Wasn't he supposed to tell you what signal to give the people in the front lines or in the artillery?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. He's supposed to get word. He's supposed to get word from there and figure out the coordinates or the location.

Nancy Dahl:

So he leaves and you two are sitting there.

Alfred K. Newman:

We two didn't know what else to do. We didn't have all that information. He took it with him. He, "Well, it's up to you guys now." He takes off, back to the rear. So then we just sat there and said "Well, what shall we do?" I said "Nothing we can do but pack up these things and report back to the headquarters."

Nancy Dahl:

How long would it take you to unload and set up your radio?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's what we had to practice.

Nancy Dahl:

You had to be fast.

Alfred K. Newman:

We had to be fast.

Nancy Dahl:

About how long would it take you?

Alfred K. Newman:

About five to ten minutes.

Nancy Dahl:

So then you guys packed up and went back to the headquarters. How far ofa distance was that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Not very far, maybe a hundred yards. It was right on the beach there. You can't go back because the ocean's back that way. And everybody over there is busy tending to the wounded, emptying supplies, and stuff like that.

Nancy Dahl:

Then what?

Alfred K. Newman:

Then they told us, get up there and wait.

Nancy Dahl:

Get up where and wait?

Alfred K. Newman:

Up front. Yeah, we were off to the side there, kind of by ourselves where we were. So we had to come down towards the front and we just waited there. We had already - the other guys there who were doing the work, but they weren't busy either.

Nancy Dahl:

The other code talkers?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

So you guys are just kind of waiting around looking for something.

Alfred K. Newman:

Kind of waiting around just like the rest of them. And every now and then you'd hear a burst of rifle fire and guys are moving up and they see Japanese of course they fire, or the Japanese see them and they fire, but that's about it.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you not use any of your code-talking skills on Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, we didn't need to.

Nancy Dahl:

Up to this point it sounds to me like you haven't used your radio or your code-talking at all.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, no. We never got a chance.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you go to Iwo Jima then?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we went to Iwo Jima, but the same way. We just asked for water or asked for food or something like that. As we advanced there -

Nancy Dahl:

Was this on Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, on Guam everything was there. We just had to go follow the troops and help out if we can.

Nancy Dahl:

You helped out but you weren't really doing your .code talking there.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, no.

Nancy Dahl:

I would call that a pretty close call, when the third fellow got hit through the hand. Did you have any other close calls on Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. We'd get machine gun fire but managed to get out of the way in time. And artillery shells that the Japanese sent down. You just have to lay flat on the ground hoping that it don't hit near you.

Nancy Dahl:

Then you went from Guam. Is that when you went to Iwo Jima?

Alfred K. Newman:

I went to Guam. After that island was secured, in about a month they took us back out from the jungle area and that area there, back out into the kind of an open space where there were a lot of palm trees. And a truck comes along with a load of tents. We went in a great big circle like that. He'd just drop off a tent here, a tent there, a tent there. And here we are in line. And the officer there said "Forward march" and we'd just all march around that circle. And they he says "Okay, four men to a tent." So we'd just pick out a tent and went in there.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you pick out the fellows? i I I

Alfred K. Newman:

It was just whoever was near the tent. That's what we did, just set up the the tent and the bunk and lay our gear down and sat there for a while. Then we got a call to fall out and we do. Of course they gotta have a speech and all of that and what to do, what not to do.

Nancy Dahl:

What did they tell you not to do?

Alfred K. Newman:

Not to wander off in the jungle.

Nancy Dahl:

You wouldn't want to do that anyway, would do?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, you wouldn't think so, but there were guys like that. After a day or two what happened was all those natives that lived there when the Japanese took over, they just left their chickens and pigs and whatever livestock they had, they just let them go to the jungle. The next day some guy found a cow wandering around there somewhere. Brought it close to camp there. I guess he shot it and came to the camp there. He says "Hey, anybody want to butcher a cow?" he said. "We got one and we'll have steak tonight." There were a whole bunch of guys that went over there and I went along just to see. Sure enough, they had a cow there and they were deciding how to do it, where to start and all that. Pretty soon somebody yelled "Attention!" and everybody just stood there like that. Here comes a Naval officer and he was a doctor. And he said "Leave that cow alone. You're not going to eat it."

Nancy Dahl:

Why?

Alfred K. Newman:

It may be diseased, he said. You don't know what's here on the island. He told us about it, that there's all kinds of disease. You've got to watch yourself. Anyway, don't mess with the inhabitants on the island. You'll be sorry, they said.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you see any of the inhabitants?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, on Guam. They're regular people the way I am, colored the same skin.

Nancy Dahl:

But weren't they afraid when this war was going on? I would think they'd be hiding.

Alfred K. Newman:

They were hiding until the Americans came back. But of course t,he Japanese kept in there too.

Nancy Dahl:

The Japanese were still hiding there.

Alfred K. Newman:

No, the Japanese were in this town that we were close to. The natives still lived there, because the Japanese had them there to do the work and stuff.

Nancy Dahl:

Really.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What did they have them do, for example?

Alfred K. Newman:

Feed them.

Nancy Dahl:

So they became almost slaves.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. When your enemy conquers, you do what they say. If you want to run, bang. That's to teach other people that they can't just do what they want. They've even found five Chamorros, is their name of the people, the tribe, or whatever they call themselves. They had their hands tied behind their back and their heads cut off. You see how cruel they were, and those people just did what they were told if they wanted to live.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you ever see anything like that, Alfred?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you see anybody get killed?

Alfred K. Newman:

Sure, I see people get killed. They're running ashore, a guy'd be running and all ofa sudden he falls. That's it. You don't see a person like an animal digging - you know what I mean, kicking and and waving or anything like that. When a person gets shot, he's dead right there. That's it. If a person's wounded in the leg or something, then you see him moving, wanting help.

Nancy Dahl:

And you had to keep going past them, right? You can't stop.

Alfred K. Newman:

Right. They tell you not to stop because you're a target for the enemy.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you ever able to shoot anybody or did you shoot anybody that you know of?

Alfred K. Newman:

Never did. Never got a chance. There was one -let's see. One code talker got killed.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you know him?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, yeah. We shared the same tent, these two brothers and a nephew. At least one brother happened to jump in one bomb crater with four other guys and a mortar shell landed right in that crater and it killed all of them.

Nancy Dahl:

I can't imagine what that's like to find out that your friend got killed. But if you're a brother, a relative, how do these men - they find out and then what ?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. I never saw the brother that was left, or the two brothers. Their nephew got killed.

Nancy Dahl:

That must be very disheartening.

Alfred K. Newman:

It must have been, because he was over with another company.

Nancy Dahl:

But for him to be able to go on. And for you too.

Alfred K. Newman:

There's no way you can say "I'm going to go back." Ifthey catch you being a coward, getting out -

Nancy Dahl:

There's no way to go back to the states.

Alfred K. Newman:

But even if you do, they'll court martial you.

Nancy Dahl:

You hear about the Navajo talker that you knew and you bunked with, that he gets killed. It has to set you back emotionally, right? But you have to keep going on.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, you have to. Because if you didn't, what's the use of going in? If everybody did that, they'd all get slaughtered.

Nancy Dahl:

So you lost a Navajo code talker on Guam. And then you were talking about the villagers, the dead cow. Did anything else happen on Guam after that?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. Of course the guys used to go, after everything quieted down, having most of the Japanese either captured or killed, some Japanese went hiding in the jungle. And of course the natives let all their livestock or their pigs and chickens they had, they just let them go. They all wandered off into the jungle. And you used to hear roosters crow in the jungle out there. And it was beginning to be a sport. Well, we used to go out on patrols and we used to see them, see those pigs or chickens. We were on duty. We weren't supposed to mess with them.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you ever see them in Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, never saw them. You were allowed to go so far. If you go, say, 20 or 30 miles, that's going too far, in the jungle. And if the Japanese - see, there's maybe 12 men or 15 men on patrol. And you see Japanese, maybe you have 20 or 30 hiding out there. They can easily surround you and slaughter you.

Nancy Dahl:

Did any of your friends get into that situation?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, no.

Nancy Dahl:

Then you left Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

Like I was saying, guys used to hunt chickens, pigs, out in the jungle and that was put a stop to. Even if they did bring one in, they wouldn't let them eat it anyway.

Nancy Dahl:

So when did you leave Guam? How long had you been in Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

We stayed there till we got new recruits. New fresh recruits came in. They had to be trained, retrained.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you do any of the training with them?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. The same code talkers were there except one/

Nancy Dahl:

The one that got killed.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

How many code talkers were on Guam?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, there's a whole division there. Not the code talkers, a whole division of Marines. They were just like us, three or four code talkers with each company or battalion.

Nancy Dahl:

So the recruits come in. You get back aboard ship?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, we trained again. Every one of us. Go on hikes like usual. Five miles out and five miles back, or ten miles out and ten miles back.

Nancy Dahl:

In that heat.

Alfred K. Newman:

In that heat. You're not walking. You jog part of the time.

Nancy Dahl:

Is that to keep you in really good condition?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. You have to be.

Nancy Dahl:

It may save your life.

Alfred K. Newman:

Right.

Nancy Dahl:

How long were you on Guam before you finally left?

Alfred K. Newman:

I would say about a month, maybe a little more.

Nancy Dahl:

Now you're going to Iwo Jima.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Talk about landing on Iwo Jima, being on Iwo Jima. What was your experience there?

Alfred K. Newman:

There we sailed, and I don't remember how many days we sailed but it wasn't too long. We got there about four in the morning, come close to the island. We were all told to [rise and] shine, get up, get going, get packed, get ready. So we did. And they had a big area on top of the ship and we all gathered there and there was a priest there. And he told everyone he knew - of course everybody knows that. He knew that there were different religious - people belonged to different churches. He said "Now is the time to pray. Pray your own way. I'm Catholic. Don't mind me. Pray the way you pray at home," he said. That's what we did.

Nancy Dahl:

How did you way?

Alfred K. Newman:

I prayed the Christian Reform way. I used to pray all the time.

Nancy Dahl:

During the war.

Alfred K. Newman:

In the war. I carried a little Bible with me. I had it in my vest pocket here. I carried it all the way through the war and I lost it here at home. (Chuckles)

Nancy Dahl:

But it got you through the war.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

Must have really helped sustain you.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

So you all prayed -

Alfred K. Newman:

We all prayed the way we wanted to pray. And when that was over, we were to get ready to disembark. The ship had anchored and by companies they separated us. And we went over the side on a rope ladder, climbed down into a little boat floating around in there like that.

Nancy Dahl:

Like a little cork. Did you have to carry the radio with you?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, that came later. We boarded ship and the ships were over there. The battleships were not very fai. They were going to work. They were just firing away.

Nancy Dahl:

At the island.

Alfred K. Newman:

At the island. Planes were going in and out, strafing and dropping bombs. I don't know which - there were three divisions, the Fifth, Third, and Fourth. We went up the middle, the Fifth went on the north side, the Fourth went on the south side of the island.

Nancy Dahl:

And you went up the middle.

Alfred K. Newman:

And our division went up the middle. When we got there the beach was just crowded with broken equipment, broken shot-up landing crafts, trucks that didn't make it to shore, tanks sitting there burning. And people laying over the place dead and some just barely living I guess. I seen an arm over here. I don't know whose it was, but I didn't see the body. A guy laying there with his face down in the sand, dead. And we couldn't get up over the sand, the top of the sand. That sand was just like snow or I don't know what you want to call it. You take two steps and you slide back and take some more and you keep going up like that . . We finally got to the ridge there, crawling on our hands and knees. You stick your head up a little bit, boy, bing bing bing! And machine gun fire, I guess it is. And they told us to "Keep your head down. We'll tell you when to move." So we just stayed there and listened to all that firing. Planes coming in dropping bombs maybe a hundred yards ahead.

Nancy Dahl:

Japanese planes?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, American planes. The Japanese didn't have no planes operating there. Because all the American planes, they come in strafing, either going sideways or from the ocean to the island. And the battleships firing their big shells overhead. You could hear them whistling overhead. And about late evening we were able to get over the top. And it got dark so we didn't move. We just lay there on top of the sand. You couldn't dig it out because it would just all cave in. We just lay there hoping nothing would come our way. In the morning then we started out. Everything kind of quieted down but very sporadic firing, little [unclear word or two 04: 17 track 11 CD2] off to the side or way up ahead. We just kept moving, and then came to another little ridge. That's where we had to stop. The troops up ahead, maybe only 25 yards ahead of us, they were stopped, they couldn't move. Too much firing. So we stayed like that all day. Nobody moved. Nobody did anything, just sit there and wait for orders to move up. The radios were going but they didn't call on us. Must have been some other guys that were talking on the radio. But our company, the guy that - let me see. A general, I think he was. He gave orders to hold. Don't move till you're told, he said. So we just had to wait.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you feel like sitting ducks out on the sand in the open like that?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it's like I said. We moved up to a ridge the next morning. The night we spent on the sand. In the morning we had to move out and we came to a ridge. That's as far as we got. And I think we sat there a week.

Nancy Dahl:

A week?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Doing nothing really.

Alfred K. Newman:

Trying to move, but every time you stick your head out there's firing going on. And one time, as crazy as I am I took my helmet off and put it on top of my rifle and boy, rifle shells started coming though. So I just put it down because he said "Hey! Don't do that."

Nancy Dahl:

But it made you realize how close they were. So you couldn't do anything but just wait.

Alfred K. Newman:

Just wait till they got all the - see, what the Japanese did, they had caves that they fired from. They had one cave here, and if you try to get this one they had another cave over there covering this one. Maybe two or three of them covering each other. Each had a machine gun nest, they called it.

Nancy Dahl:

They had a machine gun nest. But did the caves have a way out or did they come out the same way they came in?

Alfred K. Newman:

They had that thing tunneled from one end to the other. They had ammunition, food, water, everything stored in there. They owned that island for 70 days. Shelled and bombed 70 days. Sure, they might have killed a few, but every day time that ship come by closer or to get a warning that bombs were coming, they all just like prairie dogs running in a hole.

Nancy Dahl:

Would they have to crawl in these tunnels or would they stand up?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, no. They could stand up.

Nancy Dahl:

So they had a big advantage, didn't they?

Alfred K. Newman:

The Japanese had that island for years. It was their island.

Nancy Dahl:

So had they made those tunnels before the war?

Alfred K. Newman:

Long before the war.

Nancy Dahl:

Getting ready to defend it?

Alfred K. Newman:

The Japanese had been planning this for years. Like I said, the American people here, just like now. All those wrecked cars sitting around. You see them on the highway, especially going to Kirtland. Navajos and white people have wrecked cars by their home. And the Japanese were buying scrap metal, so it was big money for these people that had old wrecked cars. I don't know how much they got for them but they just sold them, had them taken away to the wrecking yards. And the wrecking yards sold them to whoever buys all that, and the Japanese bought all that and [it was] shipped to Japan.

Nancy Dahl:

They were smart.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They were smart, and the same time they had their young people, intelligent people, come over, learn all the technology the United States had. Communication. So the Japanese don't have iron on their island. They had to buy it. Just think how many wrecked cars they had shipped to Japan, just to use against the United States. (Chuckles) I seen it where I lived over at Coolidge. People going around, saying "You got any old wrecked cars" or "Where can I find some old cars. They don't have to be running. They can be wrecked."

Nancy Dahl:

Tell me more. You were behind this ridge for two weeks. You couldn't really move because they'd shoot at you. What happened then?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, the only way we could do it was when the fortification was somehow taken care of. But we had to go around a different direction to go across an airfield. An airfield, you had nothing to hide behind. Just flat. So we had to kind of stay behind the ridge here and go around that way and we got to the airfield and we had to run across.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get shot at then?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. Got shot at and shelled. So bombs because the Japanese didn't have any planes there to do the bombing.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have people trying to protect you as you were running across?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. Everyone was [on] his own.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you have your radio equipment with you then?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, we didn't.

Nancy Dahl:

You still didn't?

Alfred K. Newman:

Still didn't.

Nancy Dahl:

Then where did you go and what did you do?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, we ran across that airfield just like I said. It was a slaughter for us. The Japanese had it just like shooting ducks on a lake. Their machine gun, .50 calibers, I guess they got .20 caliber or so or .30 caliber, machine guns. And they had their mortars all zeroed in on the airfield. Had to run. Everybody for himself.

Nancy Dahl:

Were many of the men killed there?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, a lot of them got killed and wounded. Just like I said, it's like shooting ducks on a lake. You had to keep going. You can't just stop.

Nancy Dahl:

So then?

Alfred K. Newman:

Then we found another ridge that was higher and we dug in there. And then there were tanks coming up behind us, going up ahead a little ways. And there we seen all the Japanese, some still burning.

Nancy Dahl:

Burning?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, they'd been hit with a flame thrower. Some were I guess killed days later, and bloated, and flies. See them worms crawling all over them. Boy, it smelled terrible there for a while.

Nancy Dahl:

Can you still remember that smell?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah ...

Nancy Dahl:

What were the sounds at that point? Were there flies buzzing around?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, there's flies. Those blue flies about that big that lay eggs. They lay the eggs and you'd see those worms, those maggots. They eat the flesh, they eat the body. And some Japanese clothes still smoldering, uniform still smoldering. Been hit with the flame thrower.

Nancy Dahl:

So you came across this. Did you have to do anything there or did you keep moving?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we kept moving until they told us to stop. We had to stop again and wait I don't know how many days. In the meantime the flag was raised on Mount Suribachi.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you see that?

Alfred K. Newman:

I didn't see it. We heard about it. We were kind of blinded from that peak.

Nancy Dahl:

So that means the Americans took over the island. That must have been news for all of you.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

How did you hear about that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, we got told. They said "You know they raised the flag on Mount Suribachi?" And we looked over there but we couldn't see it. It must have been a little over to the side somewhere.

Nancy Dahl:

That must have been quite a feeling.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. And after that the battle was pretty quiet. Just mostly reconnaissance work.

Nancy Dahl:

About how long were you on Iwo Jima?

Alfred K. Newman:

We landed in February, got off of there February the 28th.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were there 28 days?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

During the time you were there did you use your code-talking? Did you use the radio at all?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, I didn't have a chance to use it.

Nancy Dahl:

So Alfred, did you not use your code talking any time during the war?

Alfred K. Newman:

We started to but we couldn't do it on Guam.

Nancy Dahl:

Because that's when the third guy got hurt.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

So you never really got to hear signals and transmit back.

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you feel kind of cheated that you didn't get to do that after all that training?

Alfred K. Newman:

No. I was close to the front there that - we didn't have much time.

Nancy Dahl:

You never went through being a code talker. You never got to do that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. See, where I was w.e didn't really get into any problems, any trouble. But I had a chance to go when we got [unclear word track 02 CD3 02:12] there, there was a lieutenant that came up to us, my buddy and 1. He said "You guys are assigned to go to that rocket site back there, over what, about half a mile." We had to run over there. We couldn't walk. We had to run over there. And here this was a rocket launcher setting up against up towards Mount Suribachi. I don't know how many, what do you call it, troughs or what do you want to call it. And there's stacks and stacks of rocket shells back behind that launcher. And we had to load that rocket launcher. I think there was four of them. My buddy and I were assigned to one. When them rockets all went off we had to quickly grab some more and put them in the launchers. We kept doing that for oh, maybe two to three hours. We had to help out over there because they were short on men, I think. That's what we did.

Nancy Dahl:

I've done some reading so I just want to ask you from what you know and from your experience. Did they ever have anyone protect you as code talkers?

Alfred K. Newman:

None that I knew of.

Nancy Dahl:

But you always worked in teams as code talkers, two guys?

Alfred K. Newman:

Two of us stayed with that company. [both talk together] on patrols one of us to go.

Nancy Dahl:

So they separated you.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

But not with your equipment. You didn't go on a patrol with the equipment.

Alfred K. Newman:

No. That's too obvious. That's the first person they'll shoot if they see it.

Nancy Dahl:

So you were a target if you had your-

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm, yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What did the Marines tell you if you were caught as a code talker?

Alfred K. Newman:

I was never told.

Nancy Dahl:

Nobody ever said anything to you about that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Nobody said anything to me. They treated me and the other guys just like the rest of the guys.

Nancy Dahl:

I read that some people were given a gun. That if they were caught they were supposed to kill themselves.

Alfred K. Newman:

We do carry a gun.

Nancy Dahl:

But to kill yourself if you got caught.

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, you could kill yourself with a rifle just as easy.

Nancy Dahl:

But you weren't ordered. Nobody said anything to you about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Nobody said anything that we had a bodyguard.

Nancy Dahl:

Nobody said that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Nobody said that.

Nancy Dahl:

Or that if you got caught you should kill yourself.

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Because I would think that would be very scary if the Japanese knew you were the code talker, you knew the code, what they might do to you.

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. But I wouldn't just stand there and let them catch me. I'll put up a fight even if it means my life. I'll put up a fight.

Nancy Dahl:

Were you ever mistaken for the enemy?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Were some of the code talkers ever mistaken for the enemy?

Alfred K. Newman:

I hear that, but there's all kinds of stories going around all the time.

Nancy Dahl:

So you never really saw the enemy close up, did you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, we seen him.

Nancy Dahl:

Tell me about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

There was a guy, the one who wandered into our camp.

Nancy Dahl:

On Iwo Jima?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Tell me about that.

Alfred K. Newman:

There's three of them, I think. My buddy and I seen them. They're walking over there and there's other guys that I think were closer to the Japanese. They shot them without even asking any questions. It was early, early dawn in the morning. They walked into the camp.

Nancy Dahl:

Why would they do that? Was your camp hidden or were they just disoriented, do you think?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. We didn't get to ask them.

Nancy Dahl:

But isn't that kind of unusual for the Japanese to be walking around like that?

Alfred K. Newman:

They do, they do. On Guam they snuck into the galley already, what you call a mess hall, at night. A guard happened to catch them. They were in the mess hall looking for food.

Nancy Dahl:

What did he do?

Alfred K. Newman:

He just - I guess they weren't armed or anything. They just gave up.

Nancy Dahl:

They became prisoners?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yep. They took them prisoner and shipped them somewhere. I don't know where.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you ever see any of the Japanese prisoners?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

Do you feel very lucky having survived this war and all these close calls?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What do you think got you through that? Why do you think you survived?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, I think I didn't really think I was going to get killed or that I might get killed or anything like that. I said "If I'm going to get killed, I should have been killed a long time ago." We've been under fire, under shelling, everything else.

Nancy Dahl:

What did you fear the most?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't think I - didn't fear anything.

Nancy Dahl:

You were not scared.

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, to a certain extent. You've got to be scared when you see them shells coming over or hear them coming over.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you pray at that point?

Alfred K. Newman:

I always prayed every day.

Nancy Dahl:

Was there a certain prayer you said, or did you use your little Bible?

Alfred K. Newman:

Just my Bible and I prayed the way I wanted to pray.

Nancy Dahl:

And that really helped sustain you. It gave you the strength.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Did your fellow Marines talk about their fears?

Alfred K. Newman:

I haven't heard any.

Nancy Dahl:

It sounds like you never really gave up hope. You just assumed you thought you were not going to get killed.

Alfred K. Newman:

(Chuckles) That's one thing you can't say, I'm not going to get killed. Maybe you get killed the next minute. Who knows?

Nancy Dahl:

Was there ever a time that you gave up hope or got discouraged?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

What were the communications from home?

Alfred K. Newman:

There were letters but very few.

Nancy Dahl:

Is that how you stayed in touch with the family? When you were there, what did you tell them about your experience?

Alfred K. Newman:

You couldn't. All the letters they got from me were all cut up.

Nancy Dahl:

Really.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. They censor your letter before it goes back to the states. Anything you mention that they think is giving your location or telling about the position of the troops or whatever, they it out.

Nancy Dahl:

They blacked it out?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, they don't. They cut it out.

Nancy Dahl:

With a scissors.

Alfred K. Newman:

Like Betsy used to say that she'd get a letter all cut up.

Nancy Dahl:

So what would you tell them?

Alfred K. Newman:

I was doing fine, everything's okay. That's all you can say. You can't say I'm on Guam or say we're going to Iwo Jima or headed for Bougainville. They'll jail you for treason.

Nancy Dahl:

What news did you get from home?

Alfred K. Newman:

They just told me everything is fine. And when my mother died I didn't hear about it. Well, I heard about it but about a week after she died, I think. No, two weeks after she died. Through my partner's letter. His niece or somebody worked at the hospital at Rehoboth. She wrote a letter and told him who died because she knew us, you know. We knew each other. This partner of mine and I went both to the same school. And she did too. But she was working at the hospital when it happened. She wrote a letter to her cousin and he told me. He said "Did you know that your mother died?" I said "No." And that was all. And about three weeks later I got a call from somebody from headquarters. He told me "The Red Cross wants to see you." So I right away knew what it was for. I said "Okay" but I never went. I didn't go.

Nancy Dahl:

That had to be very hard to hear.

Alfred K. Newman:

My sister said that day my mother died, this preacher that we knew, they went to him and he helped - my wife did too, I think - he helped to send a telegram through the Red Cross to me. He couldn't send it directly to me because he had to go through the Red Cross. And of course you know, of all the messages I could imagine going back and forth, who died, who got wounded and all that, so it took three weeks before they could get the telegram to division headquarters. I told him, I says forget it. I know about it. I never went.

Nancy Dahl:

It must have been very hard to hear that news.

Alfred K. Newman:

It was hard. But - then I started to thinking well, I shouldn't feel bad. You see people dying every day over here. What would would it to me here to sit here weeping and crying and carrying on? That won't do me any good. (Sighs)

Nancy Dahl:

How were you treated by the other Marines, being a Native American? Was there ever a problem with discrimination?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, there was. They called you Chief all the time. They never mentioned you by your name. They said "Hey Chief, come here, do this." I got tired of it. One guy was really persistent on it. I fired back, said "What do you want, Paleface?" So.

Nancy Dahl:

Once they learned the important role that the code talkers played in the war in really saving a lot of lives in the South Pacific, did you feel they treated you any differently?

Alfred K. Newman:

Not too much different. A lot of it more of what happened way back, centuries back before, you know, about Indians and all of that. But for the present time they weren't really that bad.

Nancy Dahl:

Was there was a conflict with your Navajo beliefs and what you had to do in the war?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, I didn't have no conflict. .

Nancy Dahl:

What about chin-di? I'm saying it wrong, I know.

Alfred K. Newman:

That's - I have to see one to believe it.

Nancy Dahl:

Explain it so whoever listens to this understands what we're talking about.

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. Chindi is something that, it's just like a ghost to the Anglo people. You say "I've seen a ghost."

Nancy Dahl:

Don't the Navajos believe that the spirits of the dead could come back and haunt you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, that's what they believe.

Nancy Dahl:

That's a Navajo belief, isn't it?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's a Navajo belief.

Nancy Dahl:

Do you believe that?

Alfred K. Newman:

I never believed it. Those Navajos have their little com pollen and other gadgets that they carry. Me, I didn't carry. All I carried was my Bible.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you get any war souvenirs?

Alfred K. Newman:

No.

Nancy Dahl:

You didn't get anything from the Japanese?

Alfred K. Newman:

If I did it would have been all taken away from me.

Nancy Dahl:

What were some of the stories that you might have heard from some ofthe code talkers that kind of haunted you?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't think I heard anything that's haunting.

Nancy Dahl:

Or some of the stories.

Alfred K. Newman:

Some of the stories I heard at this book-signing and places where we signed books, where the guys says "Oh, we used to play baseball with the Japanese," he says. "The Japanese would arm their hand grenade with the steel helmet. You could hear it. So we waited and here comes a grenade. And we'd tum our rifle around and hit it back with the butt," he said. Now how far that Japanese was I wouldn't know.

Nancy Dahl:

The Japanese saw him and you all saw what was going on. But if you were hitting a grenade inside a helmet with a rifle, wouldn't it go off?

Alfred K. Newman:

Maybe I said it wrong. The Japanese armed their grenade by hitting their grenade on their helmet.

Nancy Dahl:

Oh, that's how they armed it.

Alfred K. Newman:

Armed it, set it to go off. He said "We wait and we see it coming, we just tum the rifle around and hit it back with the rifle butt," he says.

Nancy Dahl:

Why wouldn't that make the grenade explore?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, it has a certain second time limit for it to go off.

Nancy Dahl:

That's quite a story. What else did they tell?

Alfred K. Newman:

What was that guy telling? Oh, I don't know. I don't remember all of them. That's the one I've heard all the time. But I don't believe it one bit. I don't believe it.

Nancy Dahl:

So Alfred, you talked a little bit about the discrimination, being called Chief which I think sounded like a pejorative term to you, a put-down. There's an irony here about the Navajos grew up on the reservation, they have this very wonderful language that carries their culture. Kids are punished for speaking the language at school. And you went to war at a time when Navajos could not vote. You go to war, risk your lives. It's the Navajo language that you preserved through people trying to put it out and extinguish it. It was that which made a real big difference in the war, the code talking. How does it feel to you to have felt that kind of discrimination and then go risk your life for a country that wouldn't even let you vote?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, as far as speech goes, you went to school to learn English. So how are you going to learn English if you keep speaking N avaj o? You spoke that, I wouldn't say from the day you were born, but you grew up with it. How can you forget it? To me that's the way I feel about it. I grew up with a language and I'm a Navajo and I will never forget it, whether I graduated from the highest educational institution. I'll still remember and spek Navajo.

Nancy Dahl:

So you don't feel bitter about -

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't feel bitter. That was the way to get it from being overused. That taught the little ones to learn. Because the little ones, no matter how small they were, they speak Navajo, they'll speak Navajo the rest of their lives. Unless they were subjugated to where nothing but, say, Anglos. Then he might forget. He'll still remember but he wouldn't know all the terms, what they meant. That's the way I feel about it. It was our teaching to learn English sooner and better.

Nancy Dahl:

That's what gave you the opportunity, if you want to call it that, to be a code talker, that you were fluent in English and Navajo. And that's what you had to be, to be a code talker. Did you feel that you were properly recognized and honored for the service you did in World War II as a code talker?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, in a way I would say. But to me, I would say sure, it's nice to get a medal and all that. Look how many people have gotten medals. People that were heroes, that really went out there and put their lives in jeopardy. Sure, they got the Congressional Medal of Honor. But what good did it do them? Didn't get no compensation for it. They don't get any special privileges. They don't have anything that would help them. Sure, you could put it right here and say "Look what I got." "Yeah, congratulations. Good for you. You saved our country." That's it. Just like me. They gave me that big medal. I say, who wants to lug that big thing around? So if they had asked me, they said if you're grateful - first thing I didn't have at the time was a home. I said I would like to have a home, I would like to have all the medical benefits. And if! get too old, nobody to take care of me, I'd like to be taken care of without me putting up money. That's what I would have told them. And take care of my wife ifl go first. See to it that she's living comfortably. That's what I would have asked for.

Nancy Dahl:

Did you not get anything? You got the GI Bill.

Alfred K. Newman:

I got the GI Bill. I went and tried to use it and they told me I had to have a certain credit. I said well, forget it. I'll just go find a job. I don't want to waste time going to school again. My parents weren't rich and I wasn't rich when I got out. So I just said well, I learned what I wanted to learn, even doing the job.

Nancy Dahl:

There were no veteran benefits for the Navajos when you got out of the war?

Alfred K. Newman:

There probably was. Some of them used it to go to school.

Nancy Dahl:

That was the GI Bill.

Alfred K. Newman:

No benefits as far as-

Nancy Dahl:

Medical?

Alfred K. Newman:

Medical.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that with all the veterans that came back, or was that just with the Navajos?

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know about all the other Navajo veterans. Another thing was the government had free hospitals like Shiprock. Maybe that was one of the reasons why they couldn't give anything-

Nancy Dahl:

Anything extra to vets.

Alfred K. Newman:

That's how it was. And I always think that sure, it's nice to be praised and put way up high for what you did, but five, ten years - oh, he did that. Well, that was way back there. How many of these people that earn the highest award for the United States, how many of them are still on the pedestal up there? You hardly hear about it, only on special occasions. That's it.

Nancy Dahl:

But Alfred, don't you think that the when they finally declassified the information about the code talkers 20 years after the war, then you started being recognized, don't you think?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, you'll be recognized but that's it. Most of them will be gone pretty soon. And as far as I know, most of the Navajos, even the younger Navajos, they laugh about it.

Nancy Dahl:

What do you mean, they laugh about it?

Alfred K. Newman:

They say "Oh, he's just telling big stories."

Nancy Dahl:

They don't appreciate it.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yup. I had one guy tell me, I went to a veteran's office one time. They told me, they said "You can go to the vet's office at Fort Defiance. What you need for your home, you can get it. You don't have to pay for it. They'll give it to you." So 1 went there and asked for some lumber to fix our home in the mountains over there. We built a log cabin over there and 1 needed some material. And 1 was working but 1 didn't have enough to buy the lumber because 1 needed to finish the house. And 1 went there and 1 sat there and 1 waited for the guy that was in charge. They said he went out somewhere and he'd back in five minutes, they said. Sat there, sat there for about an hour. And here comes an army vet. He sat down across from me. And about two minutes later we started talking and he said "What branch of service did you serve?" 1 said "I served in the Marine Corps." And then he asked me, he says "Were you a code talker?" 1 said "I trained to be a code talker and 1 went overseas." And he was silent for oh, maybe five seconds or so and then he said "Oh, 1 sure hate the code talkers," he said. That's what he told me. (Chuckles) Just like that.

Nancy Dahl:

What did you say?

Alfred K. Newman:

"Well, that's your feeling," 1 said. "It don't bother me. You hate all you want."

Nancy Dahl:

Did you ever get the materials, Alfred, that you wanted?

Alfred K. Newman:

Never. The second time 1 went over there - oh, the guy came back. Said "Come back in five days. We'll have your lumber here." So five days were up, 1 walked over there, went over there, looked in his office and he was busy with someone else.

Nancy Dahl:

Was he an Anglo?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, a Navajo. And he was busy with someone else so 1 waited and then he got done. He said "Well, what 1 can do Jor you?" 1 said "You remember me? Almost a week ago 1 came up here and asked for some lumber for the house that I'm building." And he asked me for my name and 1 told him. He said "Oh, that's right. There's another family, their house burned down. We took all that lumber over there to fix up their home." 1 said "When am 1 going to get mine?" He said "I don't know. We're out of lumber now. We don't know, maybe a month or so." 1 said "Well, forget it." (Chuckles) The very first time 1 asked for assistance from the tribe was when 1 came back from the service, when Betsy and 1 got married. And about a year later we were talking about building a home at Crystal. So 1 went to the veteran's office to ask for a loan, or ask for materials to build a house. They told me, they said they can either build your house or give you lumber if you can build your own home. So 1 went over there and asked him if 1 could get a home built or 1 can have somebody build me a house. And they started asking me questions and said "Are you working?" And he says "Who are you working for, how much money do you make" and all that. So 1 told him. And then he said "Well, Mister Newman, I don't think you need any help," he said. He says "Go to the bank, ask for a loan. They'll give you money." (Chuckles)

Nancy Dahl:

So Alfred, looking back at your war experience, what was the most difficult part of it? What was the hardest part for you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh ... I guess the only hardest part that I can remember is that I was told my mother had died. And there was no way I could send them word to tell them how bad I felt and all that. That was the only worst part that I can remember. The other part, all the scary stuff and all the near misses, that didn't bother me. That's the act of war. Thousands of boys were in the same situation and that many more have given their only thing they have. That's the way I felt about it. Now to this day the people say that. And like now, all these political deals going on, both presidential and the Navajo government, we're going to help the elderly people, we're going to help the veterans, we're going to build them homes, we're going to give them money. Everything they can promise. But when you go there, it's a different story. You're working. You can help yourself. (Chuckles) A man might be working but he may have other expenses. He may have a family that he can't afford a few thousand dollars to start a home. Homes don't cost a nickel any more. Sure, years back you could. But nowadays a carpenter pounds in a nail and says "That's fifteen dollars." The same way with the mechanics. I always share ajoke about that, that when a mechanic opens that hood they charge you forty dollars. (Chuckles)

Nancy Dahl:

Alfred, what shocked you most about war?

Alfred K. Newman:

What shocked me? Actually the shooting and the stuff and all that. I've seen guys just sit down and start crying. Now what makes them cry? Sure, a man can cry, but he's got the work that he chose, or maybe he didn't choose. He went out there to do his country a favor, to protect what [unclear word 04:55 track 90 CD3] is his, freedom. Why should a guy under stress or under heavy fire or something just literally sit down and weep?

Nancy Dahl:

So that was shocking to you to see that.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

What else? The whole concept of war. Is war the answer to conflict?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, it is not. Look what happened here. Why did the nation go that little country over there, Iraq? Story's going on he had the weapons of mass destruction. That little country didn't have to' anything, I don't think. Of course they killed one another. Just like here, people kill one another all the time. But there they're doing it in a mass murder by using bombs. But those people have been fighting from day one, I think, Killing each other, doing everything they can to hurt their neighbor, to help another ethnic people. Why the United States, without finding out the truth what was going on? They got spies running all over the place. They could have gotten one over there somehow to find out just what really was going on, what weapons they had. So the nation sent in how many troops, two thousand?

Nancy Dahl:

What can we do?

Alfred K. Newman:

What they should have done is sent in an army or two armies. Go from one end of the country to the other end. Then find out what was wrong. But that just, what do you call it, stirred a hornet's nest or bee nest or whatever. There's more Muslims over there than there are people in the United States. So that's what caused everything. There's Iraq, now Afghanistan, now, what's the name of that other country?

Nancy Dahl:

Iran?

Alfred K. Newman:

Iran. They're picking on them again. And the same way with North Korea.

Nancy Dahl:

You say war is not the answer. What do you think we can co?

Alfred K. Newman:

Sit down at the table and talk it over. Now, do you want me to kill so many of your people? Of course this over here, this 9/11 stuff, they had a warning. The first terrorist tried to bring that building down. It failed because they didn't use enough explosives or something. That should have wakened up those people. Look, we've got to look out for these kind of people.

Nancy Dahl:

Alfred, in the scheme of your whole life, about 86 years, what importance did the war play?

Alfred K. Newman:

The only thing that it played was Ð

Nancy Dahl:

How significant was it in your life?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, we didn't start that war.

Nancy Dahl:

But in your life. How important was that war in your life? How did it change you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Before the war, I was just going just like any other non-Navajo. Peaceful, no worries. Doing what I like. But when the war came, it was a different story. So I had to do what needed to be done.

Nancy Dahl:

You hear about people these .days coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress syndrome. They've got psychological problems, they're depressed, they drink. They have all kinds of problems because of what they experienced in the war. How did you come back and how were you able to resume life?

Alfred K. Newman:

Of course 1 can't say 1 didn't drink in the service. Guys get together and they say "Come on, get over here and let's have a good time." And you go over there and they offer you a beer and just to be social you say okay. So you drink your beer but you don't guzzle it down and say "1 want another one." For me, 1 just took my time.

Nancy Dahl:

I'm talking about after the war.

Alfred K. Newman:

That's what 1 mean. That's how a lot of these other guys, when they went over there, I've seen it and I've participated in a social gathering on Guam. Another code talker, they were all sitting there together playing cards there. 1 sat down and and we were just talking, laughing, and they were drinking beer. 1 wasn't. And 1 took out my harmonica and started playing a tune. 1 don't remember what it was. And this guy sitting next to me, he was another code talker. He just slapped that harmonica out of my mouth and without hesitation 1 just turned around and give him a good one right in the mouth and he fell off the bench.

Nancy Dahl:

What was that all about?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's just what got me.

Nancy Dahl:

But why would he knock it out of your mouth?

Alfred K. Newman:

Oh, he probably was drunk or getting drunk. And all the guys - 1 got up and 1 said "Do it again." The other guys all got between us. Hey, hey, stop it, they said. And then I've seen people, Navajos, that come back from overseas in Gallup. Or even the night that we came back, got off the train in Gallup, 1 went to the hotel. 1 forget which hotel it was. 1 went there and paid for a room, left my stuff in there, came back out. 1 made sure 1 carried whatever money 1 had on me so if anybody wanted to dig in my luggage and all that, they won't find it. 1 went to a cafe, and this was kind of late in the evening when we got off the train in Gallup. 1 was walking down the street and there was one guy there, he was pretty well drunk already. And another one had two cops, he had two cops on him. Gallup policemen. They were slapping him around and 1 don't know what he was saying. But one guy reached in his back pocket and took his wallet out, took whatever money he had, and 1 think he put either a dollar or something back. 1 was just off a little ways. And the guy says "Quit looking," he says to me, one ofthe cops. I didn't say anything. He took whatever money he had in there and put maybe a dollar or something back in his billfold and hauled him off to jail. That was one of the code talkers.

Nancy Dahl:

Was that an Anglo cop or a Navajo cop?

Alfred K. Newman:

It was Hispanic cops. That's when they had a lot of Hispanic cops in Gallup.

Nancy Dahl:

Why was that Navajo being -

Alfred K. Newman:

Being drunk, that's what. He probably was staggering down the street. I seen that a number of times in Gallup. There's one guy that was always - I never seen him sober. He was always drunk.

Nancy Dahl:

Was he a code talker?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, he was a code talker. He'll ask for money, fifty cents, twenty-five cents. Just unshaven and unclean clothes. A few of them are like that. They were like that. They got to drinking and most of them have passed away that drank a lot.

Nancy Dahl:

Can anybody who hasn't experienced the war as you have or your other friends have, can they even understand it? I don't know how you can understand what you have been through.

Alfred K. Newman:

I don't know. I guess some guys had it a little more hazardous, but some of these that are around now don't drink like the ones I used to see. The ones who drank heavily in the service and when they out of service, most of them have gone. Like when I was in training. I used to go on liberty with this whole bunch. They were 68 of us in the platoon.

Nancy Dahl:

The code talkers. Out in California?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. Out in California. And on the weekend sometimes they gave us liberty, so we'd go out. I used to go out with a couple of guys. And the first thing they wanted to do is head to the bar when they got off that train or bus, whatever we used. And then they'd see some over there. And pretty soon things start getting a little noisier, laughing, stuff like that. Maybe some Anglo servicemen come in, sailors, Marines, army. And the Navajos of course, when they get drunk they think they're somebody. There was one little guy, maybe five feet tall or something, and he's standing up next to a sailor. He said "I'm a Marine." Going like this.

Nancy Dahl:

Showing his fists.

Alfred K. Newman:

Showing his fists. You want to fight? I'm a Marine. And this six-foot sailor just stood there laughing at him. That sailor could have just picked him up like that and threw him across the room. That's how the Navajo is. A little drink, boy, they're somebody. Boy, they're it. Especially if they're in the service.'l've seen that.

Nancy Dahl:

Could get him in a lot of trouble.

Alfred K. Newman:

They got into a lot of trouble. A lot of them come home from the liberty with their faces scratched, black eye, fat lips.

Nancy Dahl:

So Alfred, how did you hear that the war was over? I guess you were on Iwo Jima and you heard that the they put the flag up. Is that how you heard that at least they had secured the island?

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hmm.

Nancy Dahl:

How did you hear that the war was really over?

Alfred K. Newman:

That was, we were on Guam. It was twelve o'clock over there. The sirens came on, a· siren came on. And a loudspeaker came on. They said "The war is over! The Japanese have surrendered." And everybody got out of their bunks and got started yelling. He said "Open the beer barn." We weren't supposed to be having any live ammunition in the camp. There was rifle shots going off, gun shots going off. And pretty soon MPs running around in the Jeeps. He says "Quiet down, go back to bed." (Chuckles)

Nancy Dahl:

Well, there needed to be a celebration after all.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, but when people start drinking and celebrating, having a lot of ammunition, you know what goes on.

Nancy Dahl:

So you went back to Guam after Iwo Jima?

Alfred K. Newman:

That's where we were, to go to the southern end of Japan that November. That's where we were supposed to go.

Nancy Dahl:

Even before the war was over they had dropped the atomic bomb or two atomic bombs on Japan. How did you feel about that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Vh, I think that came in on a newscast on the camp amplifiers that the bomb was dropped. Of course everybody just laughed and clapped and yelled and all that. And then the second one was dropped, and they just figured that the Japanese got what they needed, what they deserved. And everything was going normal. Everybody was being prepared to hit the southern end of Japan, and then when the war ended then everything changed. People wanted to go home.

Nancy Dahl:

How long did it take you to get home?

Alfred K. Newman:

The war ended in August. And the whole month of August we waited for transportation with the group that I was with. Some of them, they were already gone. And then we heard there was problems in the states, that they were having trouble with the transportation for the returning soldiers, soldiers, Marines. That everything was crowded - buses, planes, trains. They couldn't get them all to go home. They were all waiting. And the same thing happened overseas. Not enough ships to take troops home.

Nancy Dahl:

So you're waiting to get home.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah, waiting to get home. It was August. Almost all of November - I think all of November - we waited. In the meantime we just cleaned the camp area, and - Everybody was just all tense, and says "I want to go home, I want to go home." They tried to keep us busy, but that didn't help. He said they had three LSTs that were ready to head back to the states.

Nancy Dahl:

What is an LST?

Alfred K. Newman:

Landing ship tank. This is a big old wide clumsy ship, nothing inside. Great big hull. Nothing inside. All the engines, everything to the rear. And inside they could put I don't know how many tanks, or trucks or any heavy equipment. These things lumber along like a turtle on the ocean. They're not fast.

Nancy Dahl:

Is that how you got home?

Alfred K. Newman:

I think they had four of them ready to head back to the states for some supplies or something. So what they did is they put these folding cots on the bottom of the inside -

Nancy Dahl:

In the hull.

Alfred K. Newman:

And then on top. On the top deck they put cots. That's where they put us. So I made sure I didn't go down in the hull. I kind of fooled around up there until the top deck was being loaded, and I went.

Nancy Dahl:

That's smart. So this was nothing but cots. Very rudimentary, but at least you guys were getting home.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. And that thing crawled along. That ocean wasn't even moving, it seemed like, the way that ship was going.

Nancy Dahl:

You left from Guam -

Alfred K. Newman:

Left from Guam the early part of December some time. And we headed to Hawaii, and it seemed like months before we got there. And the fourth day out of Hawaii, our ship ran out of good. They couldn't make anything, everything was used up. So they had to call to another - they made a call to another ship to see if they had enough supplies, and I think two of them had enough to share. So those two ships kind of lagged behind. They kind of got together and transferred the ration over to ours. And all it was was a little package like a Cracker Jack. It had cheese and crackers, two sticks of gum, and about two cigarettes. That's all it had in it.

Nancy Dahl:

Would you get three meals of that?

Alfred K. Newman:

Two meals.

Nancy Dahl:

Two meals a day is all. Then where you at Christmastime? Were you at Hawaii?

Alfred K. Newman:

Christmastime? I was over in Treasure Island.

Nancy Dahl:

Oh, so you got to California.

Alfred K. Newman:

California. We were quarantined for three weeks, I think, there on that island.

Nancy Dahl:

In case you had disease?

Alfred K. Newman:

In case we had disease we'd carried back from overseas. There we had nothing to do but sit around in the barracks, read books or whatever. Then they had German and Italian prisoners there that served us, that did the cooking. So we went to the mess hall and there the prisoners dished out the food for us.

Nancy Dahl:

Shouldn't the prisoners have been freed by then?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, they weren't freed. I guess they had the same problems getting them back home.

Nancy Dahl:

Now they weren't treated as much like prisoners, were they?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, they weren't treated like a prisoner. But of course they can't just go off on their own. They had to stay on the island, just free like anybody else on the island. We just stayed there ten days, and then they couldn't get us down to San Diego. No trains available, no buses available. And then it just so happened that an aircraft carrier was due for what they call a shakedown. It had just been built and they had to give it a test run they call a shakedown. So they said "Well, now's your chance to get to San Diego. It'll take you maybe three, four days," they said. "So that'll be four days at the most before you get to San Diego." San Diego and San Francisco, it's a one-day trip by boat, I guess. But no, they had to go way out in the ocean, go this way and that way, that way, that way, and work its way down to San Diego. And we got there late, late at night. We disembarked and there was a whole line of trucks waiting for us. That's just like Hawaii. When we got to Hawaii, that ship just - I don't even know where it is on Hawaii. Anyway, it came to a beach away from town. Came to a beach and stopped and just opened its doors and let the ramp fall and we all piled out. Those poor guys says "Where's the band? Where's our coffee and donuts?" Then we waited there for about an hour before them trucks came to pick us up.

Nancy Dahl:

It just sounds like there was so much waiting. And then the time it took to take to get home, it had to felt like forever.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah. That isn't all that happened. Anyway, we got to the camp on Hawaii, a tent camp or tent city they called it. We were assigned bunks and we went to bed. And we stayed there a whole week and doing nothing. Couldn't go on liberty because you were afraid you'd get into trouble over there. Oh, we can go to these beer places right around the camp there, but that was about it. You can't go into the town or anything. Afraid you might get lost or something like that. Anyway, after that they told us that there was a cruiser going back to the states. I think the name of it was Tuscaloosa, a small cruiser, not a big one. So we got on that and we started sailing. And then about two days out of Hawaii we hit a hurricane on the ocean. We hit it there at night and we could just feel that ship going like this - this way, that way.

Nancy Dahl:

Rocking every way, backwards, forwards, sideways.

Alfred K. Newman:

It was just like a cork in the rough water. And I don't know about about this sergeant. He must have been half coo-coo or something. He says "Roll call, roll call." So we all get up and tun out there and fall in line. And then he says "Sound off." And he would call a name and they would say "Here" or "Yea" or whatever. In the meantime we were facing I don't know which direction, but we were facing him. And a great big old wave came up over from the back and just swept across the ship's deck and just piled us up on the other side of the wall. Fortunately that steel, I forget what they call it, was that high.

Nancy Dahl:

About four, five feet high?

Alfred K. Newman:

Between three and four feet high. It just swept us over there just like ten pins, all piled up against that. ..

Nancy Dahl:

Otherwise you would have gone into the water?

Alfred K. Newman:

If they didn't have that wall there I would have gone into the ocean. As the water receded and the ship was - some guys, they were on their [unclear word or two Track 04 CD4 01:27] going back into the bunk place back in there. Some guys were still crawling around trying to get up. I got thrown against a steel ladder that come off to the next deck down from the top of the ship there. I hit my leg against that steel stair and broke the skin open about that long. And after that was all over, everybody was cussing and calling that sergeant all kinds of names. But he didn't care. He said "Get back in there. I'll find out about breakfast," he said. And so we all went back in there. Because in the meantime he had a rope strung from the entrance to the dining hall down in the ship to a railing, to where we could hang onto the rope and walk to the dining hall or mess hall they called it. And it was a mess down there. They had milk, coffee, eggs, anything that was to be eaten for breakfast was all on the floor. I seen one sailor carrying, I guess it was a pitcher of coff~e or something. And he slipped and threw that pitcher up and spilled that hot coffee on himself. We didn't even get to eat. "Never mind, go back to your quarters," he says. (Laughs)

Nancy Dahl:

Rough, rough seas.

Alfred K. Newman:

So we went back and we didn't get to eat until noon. That's when we had come to calmer seas. So we had a lunch, nothing but sandwiches. Of course I didn't expect to eat like a king or anything like that.

Nancy Dahl:

So you go from Hawaii and you're at Treasure Island and you're at San Diego. And how did you finally get back to New Mexico?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, like I said, on that new launched medium size aircraft carrier.

Nancy Dahl:

That was getting to San Diego.

Alfred K. Newman:

From San Francisco it was going to San Diego for and shakedown, they called it. Of course we didn't go straight. We had to go out maybe 20, 30 miles on the ocean this way and that way and that way.

Nancy Dahl:

And then how do you finally get home?

Alfred K. Newman:

Then we go to San Diego late at night. They met us at the dock. We got out and we left our sea bags, everything in. We just got in the back of the truck and we went to the tent camp, they called it, at the Marine Corps base there. There's a whole bunch oftents there. And they just assigned us each to a tent a threw us a blanket and said "Here." So I went to sleep. And then next n:t-0ming we got up for reveille, cleaned up and went to the mess hall, ate, and back to the tent. And more lectures. You should do this, don't do that. Don't treat civilians this way or that way and all that. Just be yourself, don't be cocky, and all that kind of stuff.

Nancy Dahl:

How did the civilians treat you?

Alfred K. Newman:

We were in camp there for another two weeks.

Nancy Dahl:

When did you finally get home?

Alfred K. Newman:

Of course we had to go through all this, I'll just use the term "back to civilian life." How we should act. I forget what they call it. I don't know how many sessions we had a day for two weeks.

Nancy Dahl:

Teaching you how to go back to civilian life. Really?

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

Was it difficult to go back to civilian life?

Alfred K. Newman:

For me it wasn't. If you live in the city it might be difficult. But me, I live way out in the sticks over here. Don't bother nobody. (Laughs)

Nancy Dahl:

Alfred, what does it mean to you to have been a code talker and to have had this experience in the war?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, it meant everything to me. I figured I had something to do. Even if it was hazardous, I went through it. Then, I mean, people, if they said anything to me about it, it didn't bother me. Because they don't know what you're talking about.

Nancy Dahl:

What did they say to you?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, just like I said, what that guy said to me.

Nancy Dahl:

He didn't like the code talkers.

Alfred K. Newman:

I said I was a code talker. He said "Oh, you didn't do anything. You're back."

Nancy Dahl:

What would you like your children and grandchildren to know?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, they all know I've been trained as a code talker. They know that. But I don't tell them about the other horrible things that I've seen or been through.

Nancy Dahl:

And you've talked about that today.

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hrnm.

Nancy Dahl:

Will it be okay for them to hear this story?

Alfred K. Newman:

I guess so. By the time they're old enough.

Nancy Dahl:

As a code talker, as an elder, you are a role model. What would you like to say to younger people? What advice would you like to give them?

Alfred K. Newman:

Ifthey're Navajos I would tell them to learn their language. Speak it so you can express yourself in Navajo. And for the people, the elderlies now that don't know how to speak or know English, they should know what the Navajos did before they pass on. And the same with the young generation, that they should know what the Navajos have done in this war. Sure, they hear of a lot of Indians using their language in Europe but that wasn't made in code. It was just normal conversation.

Nancy Dahl:

The Choctaw and P

Alfred K. Newman:

Mm-hm.

Nancy Dahl:

Fifty years from now, what do you think people will say about you? How would you like to be remembered?

Alfred K. Newman:

Well, I would say that the Navajos helped when the United States desperately needed help with their code. They could not use a code that the Japanese could not break. They broke everything that the United States used, and the Japanese knew everything that the army, navy, Marines were doing - where they were moving their troops and when they were going to invade. At Guadalcanal is where they stopped them.

Nancy Dahl:

And that's where the Navajo code talkers came in.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

So you would like to be remembered as a code talker.

Alfred K. Newman:

Yeah.

Nancy Dahl:

How else?

Alfred K. Newman:

That no matter how they were mistreated in the past, the Navajos didn't take it to heart or remember back and say "Hey, you treated us this way. Why should we help?" That was never said. Maybe some thought, but it was never brought up.

Nancy Dahl:

So there wasn't carrying on a bitterness or resentment.

Alfred K. Newman:

No. To top it off, they weren't citizens. (Chuckles)

Nancy Dahl:

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Alfred K. Newman:

No, I think I've said enough.

Nancy Dahl:

What do you think about this interview?

Alfred K. Newman:

It's alright.

Nancy Dahl:

Thank you very much. Say it again.

Alfred K. Newman:

My name should be Slow Talker.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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