Last of WWII Comanche Code Talkers Dies
July 22, 2005 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Last of WWII Comanche Code Talkers Dies Charles Chibitty, the last survivor of the Comanche code talkers who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 83. More info on the Code Talkers
posted by edmcbride (9 comments total)
I thought most of the code talkers were Navajo? Was Comanche similarly (at the time) never written down?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:11 PM on July 22, 2005

Some talkers were Commanche, EB. And yes, a number of Navajo and Commanche language guides are available online.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:29 PM on July 22, 2005

Singh's The Code Book has some interesting writing on Code Talkers. The first time the military went live with the program, they had to abort, as many of the GIs monitoring the channel freaked out and assumed that the Japanese had infiltrated the communications network. Lots of guys panicked at the sound of the (to them) alien tongue on the radio.

They also had to make up some codes for words that did not exist in the language, like howitzer or what not. It's fascinating stuff.

Hope Mr. Chibitty rests in peace.
posted by teece at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2005

I had the honor to meet Mr. Chibitty at a talk he did on Comanche code talkers here in Tulsa. His stories about being on the beaches at Normandy and the looks captured Germans would give him were priceless. True American legend.
posted by TetrisKid at 3:59 PM on July 22, 2005

As the linked article implies, the majority of Code Talkers were Navajo. serving in the Pacific theater. The much smaller contingent of Commanche served in Europe.
posted by cookie-k at 5:03 PM on July 22, 2005

Choctaw code talkers were active in the first and second world wars. Hopi, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Winnebago, Seminole, Navajo and Cherokee Americans to used their languages as secret code in World War II.

The sad thing is that these languages are dying out so quickly, with few being leanred by children. Many tribes fund language immersion programmes for children, but as Chibitty's generation passes, there are less of these elders to serve as living dictionaries to help the language continue. It isn't just Native American languages - try finding somebody who can fix a air conditioner in Yiddish or Ladino these days....

Spoken code languages are not any less useful in today's war zones. A friend of mine was in Lebanon during the Israeli occupation. He said the Irish and the Fijian UN Peacekeeping forces always used Gaelic or Fijian to keep their communications safe from both sides.
posted by zaelic at 5:53 PM on July 22, 2005

TetrisKid said it best: True American legend.

posted by three blind mice at 1:04 AM on July 23, 2005

posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:05 AM on July 23, 2005

posted by OmieWise at 9:39 AM on July 23, 2005

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