DOD thanks low-tech 'code talkers' for WWII service

The Pentagon honored one of the few unbreakable forms of encryption—the Commanche language, which was used by a special unit of American Indian "code talkers" in World War II —during an award ceremony honoring Charles Chibitty, the last survivor of that elite Army unit.

Art Money, the assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, oversees development and deployment of current encryption technologies based on sophisticated algorithms. Money presented Chibitty the Knowlton Award from the Military Intelligence Corps Association in a Pentagon ceremony today. George Washington appointed Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton to form an intelligence regiment during the Revolutionary war.

Chibitty served in the Army's 4th Signal Company during World War II along with 16 other Commanches who used their native language to "encrypt" messages that were indecipherable by enemies in the European theater. The Pentagon described the services performed by the Code Talkers as instrumental in protecting message traffic during the invasion of Normandy.

The Marines used Navajo code talkers to protect their communications in the Pacific theater in World War II, while the Army used Choctaw code talkers during World War I.


  • innovation (Sergey Nivens/

    VA embraces procurement challenges at scale

    Steve Kelman applauds the Department of Veterans Affairs' ambitious attempt to move beyond one-off prize-based contests to combat veteran suicides more effectively.

  • big data AI health data

    Where did the ideas for shutdowns and social distancing come from?

    Steve Kelman offers another story about hero civil servants (and a good president).

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.