Words most valuable weapon for code talkers during both World Wa - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Words most valuable weapon for code talkers during both World Wars

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DURANT -- Language became a weapon in World Wars I and II.

Many soldiers armed with the best defense came from southern Oklahoma.

Code talkers played a major role in U.S. military strategy.

A total of 19 Choctaw soldiers became classified code talkers during World War I. At that time, they were not considered U.S. citizens.

In 1917, as the war raged on in Europe, the Germans stayed one step in front of Allied forces because radio transmissions had been compromised.

"They knew what we were going to do before we actually did it," Beth Lawless said. Lawless is the granddaughter of WW I code talker Tobias Frazier.

Needing another strategy, Choctaw soldiers were asked to translate English messages into their native language then share the messages between platoons.

It confused the enemies who were unable to decode the radio transmissions.

"It was very successful," Lawless said.

Within hours, the tide of the battle had turned. The Germans retreated days after code talkers were introduced into the war.

Frazier died in 1975, but Lawless and other descendants still work to preserve their ancestors place in history.

"Heroes are people who are just ordinary people who do extraordinary things when there is a desperate need, and that's what these men did," she said.

The idea worked so well code talkers were called up again in World War II. This time, several tribes used their native languages to confuse the enemy.

"It was more fully developed," Lawless said. "It had Navajos and Comanches and other tribes and some Choctaws," she said.

Like thousands of fellow U.S. troops, code talkers also fought in the invasion of Normandy.

Now, 70 years to the day since that battle, they're remembered for helping lead the U.S. to victory using their most valuable weapon: words.

"To me, on a day like today, that's the most important thing is we have people who are willing to step up and do what needs to be done and they're our real heroes," Lawless said.

Choctaw code talkers from both World Wars have all passed away.

The last Navajo code talker died Wednesday in New Mexico at the age of 93.