Many people know about the Navajo code talkers of World War II. Less known are the original code talkers, the Choctaw of World War I.
During World War I, the Germans often learned of Allied tactical plans by tapping into their telephone lines and adeptly breaking their codes. Frustrated by these communications failures, a U.S. commander came up with the idea of using Choctaw Indians to transmit messages in their native language. This not only helped turn the tide of battle against the befuddled Germans, but it paved the way for the more extensive use of Native American code talkers in the next world war.
Company commander Captain Lawrence of the U.S. Army overheard Solomon Louis and Mitchell Bobb conversing in the Choctaw language. He found eight Choctaw men in the battalion. Eventually, fourteen Choctaw men in the Army’s 36th Infantry Division trained to use their language in code.
They helped the American Expeditionary Forces win several key battles in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, during the final large German push of the war. Within 24 hours of the Choctaw language being pressed into service, the tide of the battle had turned. In less than 72 hours, the Germans were retreating and the Allies were in full attack.