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Comanche Code Talkers Of WWII Awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Updated on September 16, 2015
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on Indigenous Peoples for over four decades.

The Most Decorated Comanche Code Talker

Charles Chibitty offers an Indian prayer at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He visited at least times, during Native American Heritage Month in November: 1992, 1999, and 2002.
Charles Chibitty offers an Indian prayer at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He visited at least times, during Native American Heritage Month in November: 1992, 1999, and 2002. | Source

Code Talkers Kept Themselves Secret

Comanche youth were often punished in public schools for speaking their native language in the 1800s and early 1900s, but were soon asked to use it as as secret code for the Allied Forces during the Second World War. They used it to help people that had sometimes denigrated them and they kept their work secret for many years. Thgey were patriotic about helping not only their tribal group but their homeland, the United States of America.

Comanche Nation of Lawton, Oklahoma joined other code talkers or wind talkers of the American Southwest during WWII in helping to defeat the Axis Powers. These others were Cochtaw Nation and the better-known Navajo code talkers, who mumbers almost 500 in the US Marine Corps.. A few additional nations contributed code talkers also, including the Tlingit (probably the least known), Sac and Fox, Sioux, Seminole, Creek, Cherokee, Kiowa, and Pawnee groups.

The 17 Commanche code talkers were awarded the Congressional Medial of Honor in November 2013. Since they were all deceased, their families accepted the awards, about 70 years after the fact. Many military groups active during WWII received honors 70 years after their service and this is a little long to be waiting for recognition.

Comanche Nation In Oklahoma

show route and directions
A markerComanche Nation -
Comanche Nation Tribal Complex, 584 North West Bingo Road, Lawton, OK 73507, USA
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B markerComanche Nation -
Fort Sill National Cemetery, 2648 Dunn Road, Elgin, OK 73538, USA
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C markerComanche Nation -
Comanche National Museum & Cultural Center, 701 Northwest Ferris Avenue, Lawton, OK 73507, USA
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D markerComanche Nation -
Comanche Nation College, 1608 Southwest 9th Street, Lawton, OK 73501, USA
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Comanche Code Talkers That Went To Normandy and Utah Beach

Comanche code-talkers of the 4th Signal Company.
Comanche code-talkers of the 4th Signal Company. | Source

The Code Talkers Recognition Act (H.R. 4597/S.1035)

This act awards Gongressional medals to several tribal nations. The Comanches were final on the list, containing 14 instead of 17 names.

"Crazy White Man"

The code talkers in the Comanche Nation were with the 4th Army Signal Corps, at the US Army Signal Center and Ft. Gordon as well as Fort Benning, Georgia.

They devised native-language terms for at least 250 military terms and they called Hitler "Crazy White Man." These devised terms consituted a code-within-a-code, a technique used only by the Comanche in WWII and the CHoctaw in WWI.

These soldiers were honored at tribal, state, and national celebrations, but not by the US military and the federal government before November 2013.

Twenty-four years preiously, on November 3, 1989, the French government and the State of Oklahoma honored several of the code talkers with the Chevalier de L'Order National du Merite. Recipients were a deceased World War I Choctaw man and three surviving Comanche code talkers from WWII: Chibitty, Kassanavoid, and Roderick Red Elk.

Comanche men in the 4th Signal Corps, WWII
Comanche men in the 4th Signal Corps, WWII | Source

Fort Gordon and Fort Benning, Georgia

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A markerFort Gordon, GA -
Fort Gordon, Augusta, GA 30905, USA
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B markerFort Benning GA -
Fort Benning, Cusseta, GA 31905, USA
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Code Takers Assigned To Utah Beach

According to head code talker Chibitty, fourteen trained code talkers from Comanche Nation journeyed to Utah Beach in Normandy, working on landlines, field telephones, and army radios. They also worked in Cherbourg and Paris, and the countries of Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany.

Non of the 13 Comanche died in battle, although a few were wounded and should have reciepd the Purple Heart.

Utah Beach, Normandy Invasion

A markerUtah Beach, Normandy, France -
Utah Beach, Parc Naturel Régional des Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, F
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Chief Charles Chibitty

Charles Chibitty at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes
Charles Chibitty at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes | Source

Corporal Charles Chibitty's Decorations

  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • Bronze Star with 4 Oak Clusters
  • Combat Infantry Badge
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
  • WWII Victory Medal
  • See additional honors below

The 17 Comanche Code Talkers

  1. Charles Chibitty (honored by France in 1989 and by the US DOD with the LTC Thomas W. Knowlton Award for intelligence work, after 1995). This man was quite the star. He was also the last living Comanche Code Talker and was able to visit the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
  2. Haddon Codynah,
  3. Robert Holder,
  4. Forrest Kassanavoid (honored by France),
  5. Wellington Mihecoby,
  6. Perry Noyabad,
  7. Clifford Otitivo,
  8. Simmons Parker,
  9. Melvin Permansu,
  10. Elgin Red Elk,
  11. Roderick Red Elk (honored by France),
  12. Albert Nahquaddy Jr. - no award authorized by Congress,
  13. Larry Saupitty (Chibitty's cousin),
  14. Morris Tabbyetchy Sunrise,
  15. Anthony Tabbytite - no award authorized by Congress,
  16. Ralph Wahnee - no award authorized by Congress,
  17. Willie Yacheschi.

NOTE: I can find no reason for not awarding Congressional Medals to the three Comanche indicated near the end of the list.

References:

S. 1035 (109th): Code Talkers Recognition Act. May 13, 2005.

The Comanche Code Talkers of World War II by William C. Meadows. 2002.

The Native American Almanac: A Portrait of Native Americans Today by Arlene Hirschfelder and Martha Kreipe de Montano. 1993.

Comanche Code Of Honor

A new exhibit opened in the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center near Lawton, Oklahoma in October 2013. It is called Comanche Code of Honor and is a tribute the the patriotism of the Comanche Nation during Word War Two.

The honor exhibit opens to overlap with the presentation of Congressional Gold Medals of Honor to the families of the 17 trained and active Comanche Code Talkers in November 2013. Other Native American Code Talkers are mentioned in a Congressional Act designed to find all of the code talkers that served America during WWI and WWII.

Reference:

The Columbus Sunday Dispatch, October 13, 2013

The Navajo Congressional Awarded Medal In 2000

Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Navajo Code Talkers in 2000.
Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Navajo Code Talkers in 2000. | Source

© 2013 Patty Inglish

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Secrecy, complacency, and red tape can delay a lot of good things! I am glad you liked reading about the honor, grandmapearl.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Patty, I'm so glad you brought this to light. Long overdue recognition for a group of heroes that made a huge contribution to both World Wars. My question is, why did it take so long?! Nice job ;) Pearl

      Voted Up++

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for that link, Ericdierker!

      I think the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts know more than the general population about a lot of history. I appreciate your yearly ceremonies from 1964 - 72.

      Comanche was not written for a long while, either, and I remember Chief Chibitty saying that the book for it that was finally published was extremely difficult to understand.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Strange, starting when I was a cub scout we knew and honored these men. I just guess I figured everyone knew of them. I guess at least '64 through 72 or so we did ceremonies in their honor yearly. Oh the children were punished right through the same time for talking "indian" in school. Something tells me that Navajo and Hopi were not written languages until the fifties. Many of my friends dads were Marines. You want to hear a tear jerker listen to the Ballad of Ira Hayes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdNV9JX-Xi8

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 4 years ago

      thank you for writing this

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