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Comanche Code Talkers

For all the tragic deeds it carried out in the service of a wicked regime, the German military of World War II remains one of the great fighting forces in history. The United States and its Allies had to throw every resource they had at this intrepid foe to vanquish it. One of their most ingenious was the Comanche Code Talkers.

In a similar manner to the Oklahoma Choctaws of World War I (Chapter 1), these Lawton-area Natives created a 250-word military code in their native language. Various of their tribal words represented terms germane to European Theater warfare. With the leadership of white Lt. Hugh Foster, they accomplished this at least a year and a half prior to the creation of the famous Navajo Code Talker training program.

Their unique lexicon included tutsahkuna' tawo'i', the Comanche word meaning sewing machine, for machine guns; wakaree'e the word meaning turtle, for tanks; and Po'sa taiboo' the word meaning Crazy White Man, for Hitler.

Since the Comanche language was unwritten, the Nazi regime had no way to translate it even if they tapped into a field telephone communication or intercepted a radio message. Not even other Comanches knew the system that the Code Talkers crafted.

Code Talker Frank Kassanavoid recalled the first battlefield message sent in Comanche code. It happened at the Normandy Beach “D-Day” invasion, in which all seventeen Comanche Code Talkers participated. Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of the famous president, was field commander for the Allied forces that hit Utah Beach. Code Talker Larry Saupitty was his personal driver-radio operator-orderly. Roosevelt realized that his troops had been landed more than a mile from their target point. They would not have their massive supporting fire. If the Germans realized this, they might have driven them back into the sea.

“We made a good landing,” Saupitty radioed to the command ship for Roosevelt. “We landed at the wrong place.” The coded messages helped right the situation and prevented the defenders from realizing the precarious nature of the American position in that sector.

“I was scared many times later, but I was never scared half as much as while I was on that beach,” Code Talker Haddon Codynah remembered.