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Choctaw Code Talkers, Heros of WWI and The Choctaw Nation

Choctaw Code Talkers:

In 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

  1. Albert Billy
  2. Mitchell Bobb
  3. Victor Brown
  4. Ben Caterby
  5. James Edwards
  6. Tobias Frazer
  7. Benjamin Hamilton
  8. Solomon Louis
  9. Pete Maytubby
  10. Jeff Nelson
  11. Joseph Oklahombi
  12. Robert Taylor
  13. Calvin Wilson
  14. 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.

A January 23, 1919, memorandum from the commanding officer of the 142nd Infantry headquarters to the commanding general of the Thirty-Sixth Division revealed some of the code: "The Indian for 'Big Gun' was used to indicate artillery. 'Little Gun shoot fast' was substituted for machine gun, and the battalions were indicated by one, two, or three grains of corn."

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.

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.