WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today announced that he has passed legislation to award a Congressional Commemorative Medal to Code Talkers of the Choctaw, Comanche, and other tribes in recognition of their service during World Wars I and II. Senator Inhofe has worked tirelessly to gain cosponsors for the measure since first introducing the ‘Code Talkers Recognition Act’ in March of 2003. Inhofe today claimed victory when he passed the bill (S.1035) with an unprecedented 79 cosponsors.
“Code Talkers from the Choctaw, Comanche and other tribes’ are true American heroes whose accomplishments have too long been forgotten,” Inhofe said. “This legislation finally recognizes and honors a group of people who made a real difference in the fight for freedom during World Wars I and II. Their service on the front lines helped propel the allied forces to victory and saved countless lives in the process.”
Though at the time not yet considered citizens of the United States, 18 members of the Choctaw Nation were recruited to become the very first soldiers to use their native language to transmit messages over the radio that were unintelligible to the enemy. During World War I, the Germans captured one out of four messengers who ran between companies on the battle line until the “Choctaw Code” was put into use. Their heroic effort is credited with saving countless lives.
Similarly, 14 members of the Comanche tribe were recruited to be Code Talkers during World War II and served in both the European and Pacific theaters. Transmitting vital messages in languages the enemy could not decipher, the Code Talkers of World War II ensured the integrity of our military’s essential communications.
Inhofe’s legislation proposes that:
“Any Native American member of the United States Armed Forces who served as a Code Talker in any foreign conflict in which the United States was involved during the 20th Century shall be eligible for a commemorative medal. ...”
In 2001 Congress recognized only the Navajo Code Talkers for their commitment and service on the battlefield. Senator Inhofe’s effort was directed at securing recognition for those who were not included in that acknowledgement. While most of them are now deceased, their contribution to the allied victory will never be forgotten.