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"It all comes back to the idea that you love your country, you love your government, you love your people. For that purpose, I’m here." (Video interview, 29:39)

   Jack Jones
Collection image
Jack Jones [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Service Location: New Britain; Palau
Rank: Private First Class
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Jack Jones was born in 1919 at his family home near Montezuma Creek, Utah, within the Navajo reservation. From his time at boarding school, he recalls how students were punished for speaking Navajo, while also having to go through military-style training . After completing his individual training, Jones joined up with the 1st Marine Division for the latter stages of the New Britain Campaign. He remembers how the Code Talkers worked together between operations to constantly improve the Navajo Code and ensure that they were all using the same techniques and procedures. At the Battle of Peleliu in September 1944, Jones landed with the third wave. The Marines met heavy resistance on the beaches, where Jones remembers using the Navajo Code to coordinate the use of air support and naval gunfire support that paved the way for Marine advances. Wounded when a Japanese artillery round exploded close to him, he was eventually evacuated to the United States, and recalls the elation of seeing the Golden Gate Bridge on arrival in San Francisco.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (89 min.)
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
The use of Navajo and English names; birth at his family home near Montezuma Creek, Utah; memories of his grandparents and their traditional teachings. (05:17) Story of reporting to boarding school for the first time when he was seven years old; traveling to boarding school 90 miles away in Shiprock, New Mexico; being punished for speaking Navajo while at school; military-style training at boarding school; learning to speak English over time. (13:00) Attending Phoenix Indian School starting in ninth grade, a BIA boarding school in Phoenix with students from a variety of tribes; learning to be a house painter through school’s vocational training; story about being a featherweight boxing champion while he was in school. (06:09)
Working as a house painter after high school; start of World War II; Ralph Begay - a friend of his - being captured as a POW while serving with the Army in the Philippines; feelings about going to war. (05:12) Preparing for combat in Australia with his unit; experiences in the latter stages of the New Britain campaign; staging and training on the Russell Islands in the Solomon Islands; observing native islanders in the South Pacific and attempting to learn their language. (05:03) Working with other Code Talkers to improve techniques for using the Code; the Code Talkers’ dedication to secrecy and professionalism; sense of pride in the Code Talkers’ achievements, as well as the Marine Corps’ achievements. (03:46)
Navajo POWs from the Army were not able to decipher the Code for their Japanese captors, and endured horrifying torture. (05:02) Participating in the Battle of Peleliu: landing with the third wave, coming under intense fire on the beach; using the Navajo Code to call for fire support assets to attack Japanese positions on a hill overlooking the beach; being wounded by the explosion of an artillery round. (09:35) Being medically evacuated from Peleliu to a medical facility on Guadalcanal; coping with a traumatic brain injury from the blast that wounded him; traveling by ship back to the United States for further treatment and recuperation. (06:09)
Returning home and seeing his mother and family; helping his family with the sheepherding again after coming home. (00:55) Reflects on the prejudice towards Native Americans that he experienced during his time in the military, which resulted in a lack of recognition for the Code Talkers at the time. (04:48) 

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  October 26, 2011
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