Monday, August 13, 2007

History is Our Stories ~ Army Code Talkers

Commanche Code Talkers
4th Signal Company
US Army
Charles "Charlie" J. Chibitty
The last Commanche Code Talker
Died in 2005

Most people have heard of the Navajo Code Talkers who served in the Pacific during WWII with the Marine Corps. Few have heard of the Commanche Code Talkers.

The Commanche Code Talkers were part of the US Army and served in the European theatre during WWII. Sixteen Commanche Code Talkers were part of the communication contingent during the D-Day invasion. The Germans were never able to break their code.

All of the Commanche Code Talkers had passed on by the time the information was declassified. The survivor, Charles Chibitty, was presented with many awards after the declassification, which he always accepted on behalf of the others.

Chibitty landed at Utah Beach. His first radio message was sent to another code talker on an incoming boat. Translated into English, it said: "Five miles to the right of the designated area and five miles inland, the fighting is fierce and we need help."

"We were trying to let them know where we were so they wouldn't lob no shells on us," Chibitty explained with a chuckle. "I was with the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. We talked Indian and sent messages when need be. It was quicker to use telephones and radios to send messages, because Morse code had to be decoded and the Germans could decode them. We used telephones and radios to talk Indian, then wrote it in English and gave it to the commanding officer."

Two Comanches were assigned to each of the 4th Infantry Division's three regiments. They sent coded messages from the front line to division headquarters, where other Comanches decoded the messages.

Speaking in the Comanche language, Chibitty gave Brownlee another example of a message code talkers sent to other units, then translated it for him: "A turtle is coming down the hedgerow. Get that stovepipe and shoot him."

"A turtle was a tank and a stovepipe was a bazooka," he explained. "We couldn't say tank or bazooka in Comanche, so we had to substitute something else. A turtle has a hard shell, so it was a tank."

Since there was no Comanche word for machine gun it became "sewing machine," Chibitty noted, "because of the noise the sewing machine made when my mother was sewing." Hitler, he said, was "posah-tai-vo," or "crazy white man."

In WWI, the Choctaw were Code Talkers.

The history of the Indian Code Talkers is a beautiful and not well known one, due to the classified nature of their activities. These amazing Americans saved many lives.

1 comment:

Sarge Charlie said...

what a great post, they did so much for America, and the code was never broken.