Commentary by: Capt. Martha C. Nigrelle
Throughout our Texas Military Forces (TXMF) history, Native American Soldiers have made numerous unique and significant contributions to our force.
During World War I, members of the Choctaw tribe fought with the 36th Infantry Division, many serving as “code talkers.” According to the TXMF Museum, the German Army was often successful in tapping the American Army’s phone lines during the war, enabling the Germans to know the locations of both troops and supplies.
The tides changed for the German Army when the 36th Infantry Division introduced their Choctaw code talkers. The TXMF Museum’s records show a Ms. Mozelle Dawson of Coalinga, Calif., memoirs of her father, Albert Billy, a Choctaw warrior, and Soldier of the Texas Army National Guard,
“According to Mozelle Dawson of Coalinga, California, her father, Albert Billy, suggested to his commanding officer that the Choctaw language be used to confuse the enemy. She said Billy had the idea that Indians be used on the phone lines talking in their native dialect. This would confuse anyone tapping into the lines. As it turned out, the Germans were more than just a little confused, and after the Choctaw Code Talkers were put on the phones, the Germans immediately began losing.
“Ms. Dawson said her father told her that during the night, some Germans were captured, and a General of the German Army said that he would like to ask just one question: ‘What nationality was on the phones that night?’ The only reply that this German officer received was that it was only Americans that had been on the phones.”
Billy served in the 142nd Infantry, a regiment of the 36th Infantry Division.
For more information on the Choctaw code talkers, visit the TXMF Museum website:http://www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/choctaw/codetalkers.htm