DOD thanks low-tech 'code talkers' for WWII service
- By Bob Brewin
- Nov 29, 1999
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.