June 18, 2002  


Bill to Honor Comanche Code Talkers Passes House

H.R. 3250 the Native American Code Talker Act of 2002 partially sponsored by Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives today. The bill will award the Congressional Gold Medal to 14 Comanches, and other Native Americans, who used their unique dialect to radio coded messages to our troops during World War II.

Congresswoman Granger spoke on the House floor about her legislation stating: "Today we honor all the other Native American code talkers who so valiantly fought for our country and protected our nation. H.R. 3250 gives these men the honor they so richly deserve."

The move to recognize Native Americans who served in World War II as code talkers began several years ago. Last July, President Bush presented Congressional Gold Medals to code talkers from the Navajo nation. In December 2001, Congresswoman Granger introduced legislation to extend this honor to code talkers in the Comanche nation. The final bill passed today includes Ms. Granger's legislation to honor the Comanche as well as legislation honoring Sioux, Choctaw, and any other code talkers the Secretary of Defense wants to recognize.

A constituent and friend of Congresswoman Granger, Ben Tahmahkera, first made her aware that Comanche also served during World War II. "Mr. Tahmahkera was very pleased to hear about the Navajo recognition, but he wanted to make sure the sacrifices of the Comanche code talkers, and other code talkers, were not forgotten," stated Granger.

Congresswoman Granger then sought out information about Charles Chibitty, the last living Comanche code talker. Chibitty lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and has received numerous awards for his service in World War II. One of the most recent was presented in Fort Worth, Texas this April at the Texas Frontier Forts Muster and the Quanah Parker Comanche Pow Wow Honor Dance.

In January 1941, Charles Chibitty enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned to the Army's 4th Signal Company. On D-Day he and the other Comanche code talkers saved thousands of lives. The code talkers' roles were to identify the positions of friendly and hostile forces so that Allied troops could concentrate their strength on the opponent and avoid friendly fire.

Chibitty was quoted in 1999 saying, "I always wonder why it took so long to recognize us for what we did. (My comrades) are not here to enjoy what I'm getting after all these years."

This weekend the movie "Wind Talkers" starring Nicholas Cage opened across the country. This movie tells the story of the Navajo code talkers who served the United States military in the Pacific.

"We all know that in our fast-paced, modern world, movies are our storytellers," said Granger. "I'm pleased to see the tale of these code talker heroes being told so publicly. In my mind, the Native American code talkers are some of our nation's greatest hereos."