Once he arrived and landed at Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, this 23-year-old member of the 4th Signal Battalion, a signaler by training, sent the following message to his higher headquarters, “Five miles to the right of the designated area and five miles inland, the fighting is fierce and we need help.” And indeed they must have.
One man of one tribe, one of 33 Native American tribes who participated, he and his brothers in arms were responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Allies and Americans. And they did it in the most unusual way.
In 1940, Charles Chibitty got permission from his mother to join the Army, as he had heard much of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. The Army was looking for Indians, including Comanches such as Chibitty, to serve as Code Talkers. Chibitty was qualified and after training went to Fort Benning where 17 Comanche Nation Code talkers developed, designed and implemented a secret, indecipherable code to prevent the Nazi’s from deciphering our messages. Buncha low tech kids.
Later, 13 Comanche Code talkers, including Chibitty, participated in the Battle of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and other fights. The code was astounding, as it was based on Native American language, most not written down and all completely undecipherable to the enemy. Wikipedia tells us of certain words that had no meaning in the Comanche language. They used the Comanche word “turtle” to signify “tank”.
It was not all talking: Chibitty, who attend the Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas, fought not only on Utah Beach on D-Day, saw more action in France. He also became a champion boxer in the Army, and later in his life, an award-winning Comanche War dancer.
I love the story of the Comanche Code Talkers but particularly the story of a humble man, Charles Chibitty. For Mr. Chibitty, who was the last serving Code Talker who died in 2005, and also was known to be the last hereditary Chief of the Comanches, descended from Chief Ten Bears.
My favorite and most intriguing part? Charles Chibitty attended Fort Sill Indian School.
Charles Chibitty was born in a small tent just outside Medicine Park, Oklahoma. Can you imagine?
May this hero rest in peace.
Lee Baxter is a former commanding general of Fort Sill and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.