Choctaw Code Talkers
as told by
Ruth Frazier McMillan
Near the end of World War One, the Choctaw Code Talkers of Oklahoma helped the Americans win several key battles in the Mousse-Argonne campaign, which was the final big German push of that war. There were eighteen Choctaw soldiers serving in the 36th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces during the Mousse-Argonne Campaign. My father, Tobias W. Frazier, was one of them.
He had been a student at Armstrong Academy in Bokchito, Oklahoma, when he volunteered for service. This was before Native Americans were citizens. After a few weeks of basic training, he was on a troop ship to France.
The Germans were winning several key battles because they had deciphered our radio codes, were tapping the telephone lines, and were capturing about one out of four messengers who served as runners between companies on the battle line. An officer overheard the Choctaws conversing in their language, and it was decided to put one Choctaw soldier in each field command. They started handling field telephone calls, translating radio messages into the Choctaw language, and writing field orders to be carried by runners between the companies.
The Germans were completely confused, and within 24 hours the battle had turned around to the American side. Within 72 hours the Germans were retreating.
This was the first time that a Native American language was used in an overseas battle for Americans. My father was very honored to have served in this campaign. He was wounded in battle and received a Purple Heart. He served in the U.S. Army from May 19, 1917 to June 16, 1919.
By the way, did you know that everyone knows a Choctaw word? Oklahoma! It means Red Man.