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WORLD WAR I AND II  
CHOCTAW CODE TALKERS

 

 

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The closing days of World War I, fourteen Choctaw Indian men in the Army's Thirty-Sixth Division, trained to use their language, helped the American Expeditionary Force win several key battles in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign in France, the final big German push of the war. The fourteen Choctaw Code Talkers were Albert Billy, Mitchell Bobb, Victor Brown, Ben Caterby, James Edwards, Tobias Frazer, Ben Hampton, Solomon Louis, Pete Maytubby, Jeff Nelson, Joseph Oklahombi, Robert Taylor, Calvin Wilson, and Walter Veach.

With at least one Choctaw man placed in each field company headquarters, they handled military communications by field telephone, translated radio messages into the Choctaw language, and wrote field orders to be carried by "runners" between the various companies. The German army, which captured about one out of four messengers, never deciphered the messages written in Choctaw.

The Choctaws were recognized as the first to use their native language as an unbreakable code in World War I. The Choctaw language was again used in World War II. Choctaws conversed in their language over field radios to coordinate military positions, giving exact details and locations without fear of German interception.

1939 to 1945
The Army taps Hopi, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Winnebago, Seminole, Navajo and Cherokee Americans to use their languages as secret code in World War II. The Marines rely on Navajos to create and memorize a code based on the complex Navajo language.

During the annual Choctaw Labor Day Festival in 1986, Chief Hollis E. Roberts presented posthumous Choctaw Nation Medals of Valor to the families of the Code Talkers. This was the first official recognition the Choctaw Code Talkers had been given. On November 3, 1989, in recognition of the important role the Choctaw Code Talkers played during World War I, the French government presented Chief Roberts with the "Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Merite" (the Knight of the National Order of Merit), the highest honor France can bestow.

 

The World War I 
Choctaw "Code Talkers"

Unbelievable, these men have never been honored by their country. We Can help make it happen.

 

 

The Family Tree - August/September 1999

Bryan County Heritage Quarterly
P.O. Box 153, Calera, Okla. 74730-0153

In the closing days of World War I, eight Choctaw Indians were instrumental in helping the American Expeditionary Force to win several key battles in the Meusse Argonne Compaign, which proved to be the final big German push of that war. These Brave soldiers were the now famous Choctaw Code Talkers. One of the eight was from Bryan County, Oklahoma and one was from Choctaw County and the remaining six were from McCurtain County. They were Solomon Lewis, Bennington; Ben Carterby, (Bismark) Wright City, Mitchell Bobb, Smithville; Robert Taylor, Bokehito or Boswell; Ca'vin Nelson, Kullitukle; Pete Maytubby, Borken Bow; James Edwards, Ida (now Battiest) and Jeff Wilson, Goodwater.

All of these men were serving in the same battalion, which was practically surrounded by the German Army.

And, to make matters worse, it was known that the Germans had "broken" the American radio codes and had tapped the telephone lines. The Germans were also capturing about one out of every four messengers sent out as runners between the various companies on the battle line.

One day, a Captaion Lawrence, Commander of one of the companies, was strolling through the company area when he happened to overhear Solomon Lewis and Mitchell Bobb conversing in their native Choctaw language.

After listening for a few minutes, he called Lewis and asked "Corporal, how many of you Choctaws do we have in this battalion?"

After a conference with Bobb, Lewis told the Caption, "We have eight men who speak fluent Choctaw in the Battalion, Sir."

"Are there any of them over in headquarters Company?: the Captain asked/

"I think Carterby and Maytubby are over there, Sir." Lewis replied.

"You fellows sit right here," said the Captain.

He got on the field telephone and discovered that, indeed, Ben Carterby and Pete Maytubby were attached to Headquarters Company.

"Get Them and have them stand by," Captain Lawrence told his commanding officer "I've got an idea that might just get those Heinies off our backs."

Calling Lewis Bobb the Captain told them, "Look, I'm going to give you a message to call in to headquarters and I want you to give the message in your language. There will be somebody there who can understand it."

It was at that moment that PFC Mitchell Bobb, using field telephone, delivered the first Choctaw Code Message to Choctaw Ben Carterby, who then translated it into English for the Battalion commander.

Within a matter of hours, the eight men able to speak the Choctaw Language had been shifted until there was at least one in each field company headquarters.

Not only were they handling field telephone calls, they were translating radio messages into the Choctaw Language and writing field order to be carried by "runners" between the various companies.

The Berman code experts were "flipping their wigs" trying to break the new American code.

With in 72 hours after the Choctaw language was pressed into service, the tide of battle had turned, and in less than 72 hours, the German Army was retreating and the Allied Forces were on full attack.

Since this occurred at the close of the war, the Choctaw Code Talkers were apparently used in only this one campaign. The men were praised by their company commanders and the battalion commander. Thought these men were promised medals for their contributions to end the war, they have never been received.

The information contained in this history of the Choctaw Code talkers was told to the writer of the article by Solomon Lewis in 1979, who at that time, was the only remaining Code talker alive. Solomon Lewis died sometime between 1982 and 1983.

With Thanks to the Bryan County Heritage Quarterly.

American Indian Medal of Honor Winners - In the 20th century, five American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor: the Medal of Honor.

America's Secret Military Weapon

Bishinik - The Official Publication of the Choctaw Nation, August 1986.

Choctaw Code Talkers - WWI - The First code talkers in the U. S. Arm Forces

Native Indian Tongue for Secure Communications

Who were the Choctaw code talkers?

Code Talkers - Mosai Ne-ahs-jah Be Dzeh - What does this mean?