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Highway to be dedicated to Code Talkers

September 5, 2013

Five members of the World War I Choctaw telephone squad of “Code Talkers” are pictured with their commanding officer in 1919 at Camp Merritt, New Jersey. Pictured from right to left are Capt. H.E. Horner, Pvt. James Davenport, Cpl. James Edwards, Cpl. Calvin Wilson, Pvt. Mitchell Bobb and Cpl. Taylor Lewis, all of Company K, 142nd Infantry, 26th Division.

The State of Oklahoma is honoring an elite group of men by renaming 55 miles of SH-3 between Antlers and Broken Bow the “World War I Choctaw Code Talkers Highway.”
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Choctaw Code Talkers Association are hosing a dedication of the section of highway at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 6, near where it begins at the intersection of SH-3 and the Indian Nation Turnpike in Antlers.
Parking for the event will be at the Cross Timbers Church.
“It is very fitting to name this beautiful stretch of road through Pushmataha and McCurtain counties after the Choctaw Code Talkers,” said Chief Gregory Pyle. “Many of them were from this area. The recognition by the state will add to education others about the first men who used their native language as a weapon.”
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will place permanent markers in both Antlers and Broken Bow, bearing the name.
Ruth McMillan, a member of the executive committee of CCTA, wanted to honor the soldiers and suggested naming a highway after them.
Rep. R.C. Pruett introduced the legislation to get the name changed to WWI Choctaw Code Talkers Highway.
With hard work and help from Pruett and many others, McMillan was able to see her vision fulfilled.
“A dream can be a dream, but it has to become a reality, said Nuchi Nashoba, CCTA president. “It takes pulling together as a team to make things happen.
Out of the 19 original Choctaw Code Talkers, 14 resided in the state’s 19th district and walked the highway often, Nashoba said.
“A lot of descendants still live in that area,” continued Nashoba.
“I’m excited that they are finally getting the history documented and the recognition so that people understand there were Code Talkers in the first World War and not just the second one,” said Beth Lawless, CCTA member.
In 1917, Choctaw Indians were not citizens of the United States, and their language was considered obsolete.
The Germans had decoded Allied Forces’ messages before Choctaw soldiers used their native language as a code for military messages.
When the Choctaw language was spoken over the field telephones, the Germans had no idea what the Choctaws were saying and couldn’t effectively spy on them.
A captured German officer confessed that his intelligence personnel “were completely confused by the Indian language and gained no benefit whatsoever from their wiretaps.”
The Choctaw language helped bring an end to World War I.
The 19 Choctaw Code Talkers were Albert Billy, Ben Carterby, Benjamin Colbert Jr., Benjamin Hampton, Calvin Wilson, George Davenport, James Edwards, Jeff Nelson, Jospeh Oklahombi, Mitchell Bobb, Noel Johnson, Pete Maytubby, Robert Taylor, Solomon Lewis, Tobias Frazier, Otis Leader, Victor Brown and Walter Veach.
Funds for the sign were donated by descendants of the Code Talkers’ families, state representatives and the Choctaw Nation.
The Choctaw Code Talkers Association will also be raising funds for a granite plaque to be placed on the highway to provide history of the Choctaw Code Talkers for travelers.
A lunch and reception to commemorate the dedication follow at 11:00 a.m. at the Choctaw Nation Community Center, 400 SW “O” Street in Antlers.

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