Category: Soldier Lingo

All About the Navajo Code Talkers

Celebrate Every Day with Care Packages from My Hero Crate

This year, Navajo Code Talkers Day is recognized on August 14. It’s a special day honoring the contributions of Native Americans during World War II and their contributions to the evolution of the U.S. Code related to Native American languages, as well as First Nations tribe members who participated in the U.S. military.

There is some confusion around this day, and we think it’s worthwhile to clear up some misconceptions and celebrate our First Nations heroes for their contributions to military forces.

Were Navajo Code Talkers all from the Navajo tribe?

Navajo Code Talkers Day doesn’t single out the Navajo tribe for recognition. The name of the holiday — and the code, too — are kind-of misnomers. Navajo code is a broader term for the coded speech used to fool Nazis and Japanese Imperial forces during World War II. Navajo code depended on the complex Navajo language, and it remains one of the only codes used by the U.S. military to have never been broken during conflicts.

Other tribes associated with the World War II efforts include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, and Hopi.

When was First Nations Code first used?

Some sources say First Nations languages were used as early as World War I, when the Choctaw language was used to code a message in preparation for an attack on German forces. The CIA even claims other countries may send their military members to the U.S. to study the Code after World War I.

Why was the Navajo language used?

Philip Johnston partnered with the U.S. Marines because of his expertise in the Navajo language. He’d been living on Navajo reservations since he was a child, and had the idea to create a security code based on the complex Navajo language. The Marine Corps knew they needed native speakers for the project to be a success, so they recruited 29 members of the First Nations.

Non-native Navajo speakers, like Johnston, are extremely rare. The Code was made even more secure by encrypting communications using Navajo as a word-substitution code. It utilized common cryptography games to apply to war. For example, Navajo bird names were applied to weapons of war.

What did the Code Talkers accomplish?

Aside from assuring the security of American military secrets, the Code Talkers could translate, send, and retranslate a coded message in about 150 seconds, an incredible feat that would normally have taken hours. Military history experts believe the U.S. may not have won the Battle of Iwo Jima without the Code Talkers.

Recognizing Code Talkers Today

The Navajo Code Talkers program was declassified in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1982 when President Ronald Reagan established Navajo Code Talkers Day. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Congressional Gold Medals to 29 Code Talkers, followed by President George W. Bush, who presented medals to even more.

There were about 400 Navajo Code Talkers in total. As of 2019, only five were still living: John Kinsel Sr., Samuel F. Sandoval, Joe Vandever Sr., Thomas H. Begay, and Peter MacDonald.

How to Celebrate

Although the likelihood of you personally knowing any surviving Navajo Code Talkers is rare, you can still acknowledge the day by remembering and talking about their contributions to the U.S. military’s victory in World War I and World War II.

At My Hero Crate, we think every day is a good day to thank a military hero. Express your gratitude to yours with a military care package from My Hero Crate.

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About the image above:

Navajo Code Talkers Peter Macdonald (left) and Roy Hawthorne participated in a ceremony Nov. 10, 2010, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. to pay tribute to veterans and to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A Brief History of Memorial Day

Thank Our Military for Your Continuing Freedom


In 2020, Memorial Day is Monday, May 25. Although the national holiday may be a little different this year because of social distancing practices, the day will still carry the same heavy meaning as it has every year since it was established. 

At My Hero Crate, we celebrate the soldiers deployed, living on military bases, and everywhere else, working diligently to protect our country. But we would be mistaken to not acknowledge those who gave their lives for us. Memorial Day is the one day set aside every year to do that — but we’re truly thankful every day.



The Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, sometimes called Decoration Day, is observed in honor of the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. We are literally memorializing the military members who made the ultimate sacrifice, no matter what branch they were in: Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, or National Guard. It’s a day to reflect on and remember why we are free to live as we do in this country.

Memorial Day is different from Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11 every year. Veterans Day is a time to thank and honor all military members who served, including those who came home alive. Veterans Day also acknowledges those soldiers who served during peacetime and did not see combat during their tenure. 



The First Memorial Day

It seems there is no official documentation of the first Memorial Day, but the custom of honoring fallen heroes is a worldwide tradition extending through history. Some say the day was first officially acknowledged in America after the Civil War, but there are records that show regions and countries honoring their service members prior to that. 


Regardless, Memorial Day became a national holiday in the United States in 1971, by an act of Congress. Americans celebrate it every year on the final Monday of May.



Memorial Day Activities


Traditionally, on Memorial Day in the United States, people visit cemeteries and memorials to place flowers and other mementos on the graves of their ancestors, particularly those who served in the military. At national cemeteries, like Arlington, volunteers place American flags on each grave.

Some families use Memorial Day as a time to get together with their loved ones, to barbecue, and relax. The day is often thought of as the unofficial start to the summer season, although the first day of summer isn’t until June.



Memorial Day Symbolism

You might remember seeing poppy flowers worn on lapels on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day. There are historical and literary reasons for this. 


When the European ground was disturbed on the battlefields during World War I, poppy flowers began growing and blooming. The iconic red poppy was described in the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by a Canadian soldier, John McCrae, in 1915. 


The flower came up in another poem, this one written by Moina Michael in 1918, called “We Shall Keep the Faith.” Americans drew inspiration from these references and began to wear a red poppy in remembrance of those killed in World War I. 


Since then, the poppy has become a symbol to memorialize all veterans of any war, and quickly spread to Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, among other allies.


What You Can Do on Memorial Day

If you want to properly thank America’s fallen soldiers for their service, you can:


  • Participate in the national moment of silence at 3 p.m., whatever your time zone may be.

  • Volunteer to decorate the graves of soldiers at your local military cemetery or a national cemetery, if you live close-by.

  • Lay flowers on the graves of your veteran family members.

  • Donate to organizations that help injured service members or families of soldiers who lost their lives in battle.



How My Hero Crate Honors Veterans

My Hero Crate curates snack gift baskets designed for families to send to their loved ones in the military. Each care package is full of treats both made in America and distributed by American companies. For every purchase made, we donated to a non-profit veteran-backed organization. Visit our website to see the organization we’ve selected this month, and to shop our care packages.


A Civilian’s Guide to Military Jargon

Understand Your Soldier’s Lingo


When you send your soldier-in-training to basic combat training, you’ll likely hear them say some strange phrases the next time they talk to you in person or send you a letter. If you have no idea what they’re talking about, you’re in luck! At My Hero Crate, your military care package specialist, we’ve assembled a list of military slang for your reference.

Note that this list includes slang from multiple branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. And yes, there really are that many terms that mean “push-ups”!


Military Slang Terms

Ate-up: Description for a service member overly concerned with following regulations to the letter, without looking at the context of the situation.

Battle rattle: Combat gear, named for the sound all the equipment makes when the soldier moves.

Beat your face: Do push-ups.

Big Voice: Loudspeakers that broadcast urgent messages on a military base.

Bird: A military helicopter.

Blue-head: a new recruit in the first weeks of boot camp, for the blue shade their scalp looks after shaving off their hair.

Bubblehead: Anyone serving on a submarine.

Bug company: In Navy boot camp, a group of recruits incapable of performing tasks correctly.

Bunk: Bed.

Cherry: A new recruit, still in basic combat training, or a new service member on their first-ever duty assignment.

Chow: Food.

CO: Commanding officer.

Cover: Military headgear of any type.

Forward-leaning rest position or Front-leaning rest: Push-up position.

Gear adrift is a gift: If you left something behind and unattended, someone can “tactically acquire” it (which is still considered larceny). Generally speaking, if you were irresponsible enough to leave something behind, it’s your fault if it comes up missing.

Geedunk: In the Navy, snack foods, or the store where snacks are sold.

Get smoked: A tough, but fast work-out used as a punishment, in the Army. Marines say they “get thrashed.”

Hit the head: Go to the restroom.

Hooah: A spirited cry in celebration of something positive, or to express Army pride.

Joe: General term for a soldier.

Mess: Meal.

MRE: Meal, ready-to-eat.

Muster: Roll call.

On your face: Do push-ups.

PT: Physical training.

PX: Post Exchange, the base’s retail store. Called Base Exchange in the Air Force.

Quarter-decking: Performing physical training in the recruit barracks as a punishment in boot camp.

Rack Out: Go to sleep.

Rainbow Flight: A brand-new group of U.S. Air Force trainees in basic training, because of the “rainbow” of civilian clothes they wear before being issued uniforms.

Sat: Satisfactory.

Soup sandwich: A way to describe anything messy, like an unkempt uniform, for example.

Unsat: Unsatisfactory.

Woobie: Poncho liner, used as a blanket.

Zero dark thirty: Literally, a half an hour past midnight. Also used in reference to an unknown time very early in the morning. Usually pronounced oh dark thirty.


More Than a Letter or a Phone Call

Now that you know some military slang and jargon, you’re ready to talk to your soldier-in-training or enlisted soldier! It’s so much easier to carry on a conversation with someone when you understand these military-specific phrases.

Of course, when a phone conversation or even a letter aren’t enough, there’s My Hero Crate, military care packages you can send to your favorite hero, whether at home or deployed. Each My Hero Crate features popular, assorted American snacks and is designed to show your gratitude for your special someone’s military service. You can even sign your loved one up for a subscription, and they’ll receive a new My Hero Crate each month — you can cancel at any time.

Choose from three pre-built care packages:

Order a thoughtful care package for your loved one.