Charles Chibitty: The last of the Comanche Code-Talkers Passes.
Charles Chibitty, one of 20 Comanche Indians who used their native language as a code to transmit messages for the Allies during World War II, has died. He was 83.
Chibitty, the last living code talker, had been residing at a Tulsa nursing home but had not been hospitalized, said Cathy Flynn, administrative assistant in the tribal chairman's office. The Comanche Nation's chairman received a call about 5 p.m. Wednesday stating that Chibitty had died, Flynn said.
Known as the code talkers, the group of Comanche Indians from the Lawton area, were selected for special duty in the U.S. Army. They provided the Allies with a language that the Germans could not decipher. The Navajos did the same in the Pacific theater, and the Choctaws served as code talkers in World War I.
Chibitty was born Nov. 20, 1921, born Nov. 20, 1921 in a tent near Medicine Park and attended high school at Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kan. He was still in school when he heard Comanches were being recruited, and like other men of his time, wanted to be a part of the war effort.
The volunteers were assigned to the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., in January 1941, and were trained in the signal corps. In a 1998 story for The Oklahoman, Chibitty recalled being on Utah Beach at Normandy on D-Day, and said someone once asked him what he was afraid of most and if he feared dying.
"No. That was something we had already accepted," he said. "But we landed in deeper water than anticipated. A lot of boys drowned. That's what I was afraid of."
Charles Chibitty was one of 14 men who hit the beaches of Normandy with Allied troops and confounded the enemy by using their native language.
He loved to recount his wartime experiences, said Lacey Chibitty, 16, of Tulsa, a granddaughter whom Chibitty adopted as his own daughter after the girl's mother died when she was 3.
"He would go to different schools and talk all across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska," she said. "I went with him most of the time when I didn't have school."
She said Chibitty also was "a great father. He was always there. He loved kids."
In a ceremony in June 2002 at the American Indian Sovereignty Symposium in Oklahoma City, Chibitty recalled the D-Day invasion when he and other Comanches relayed tactical radio messages in their native tongue.
"I wonder what the hell Hitler thought when he heard those strange voices when we hit Omaha Beach," he said. "He's probably scratching his head in his grave."
Chibitty had been honored several times by the Defense Department, most recently in November 2002, when he met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and several Pentagon officials, according to the American Forces Press Service.
In public addresses, Chibitty would describe how the Comanche language did not have words for many things related to the war, so the code-talkers improvised. For instance, a tank was referred to as a turtle and a bomber as a "pregnant" airplane.
"There's a turtle coming down the hedgerow!" he recounted one radio transmission. "Get that stovepipe (bazooka) and shoot it!"
"I'm glad I'm still here, but I miss my comrades," Chibitty said at the Oklahoma City symposium in 2002. "I know that my comrades that have already gone before me are listening and laughing right now. I know when I go up there someday they'll be there waiting."
Lacey Chibitty said she now lives with Dee Cates, a woman that Charles Chibitty had asked to care for her if anything were to happen to him. "She is my mom," as Lacey put it.
In 1989, the French consul for Oklahoma and Texas honored the three surviving code talkers, Chibitty, Roderick Red Elk and Forrest Kassanavoid, and the Choctaw code talkers of World War I with the Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Merit in recognition of their service in the wars.
"We could never do it again," Chibitty told Oklahoma Today. "It's all electronic and video in war now."
The U.S. Army presented the Knowlton Award to Chibitty in 1999 during a ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding intelligence work.
Chibitty also is survived by two grandsons, both of Tulsa. He was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine, and by his son and daughter.
Services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at Floral Haven Funeral Home Chapel in Broken Arrow.
Taken from The
Oklahoman, Oklahoma City OK
July 21-22, 2005
By David Zizzo and The Associated Press articles
Mr. Chibitty, for your service.
Blessings to your family.
Comanche Code Talkers
Chibitty, Comanche Code Talker
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