Mr. Speaker, I was unable to get here in time to speak about an issue I feel very strongly about. I speak about the need to honor the Code Talkers. It was brought to my attention by my friend and constituent, Mr. Ben Tahmahkera, of Fort Worth, Texas. He is a proud Comanche himself and passionately articulated the important role of the Code Talkers contributed to our Nation during World War II.
Mr. Tahmahkera came to me and pointed out that in July, 2001, President Bush honored the Navajo Code Talkers for their contribution to the United States Armed Forces as radio operators in World War II. Mr. Tahmahkera was very pleased to hear about the Navajo recognition, but he wanted to make sure the sacrifices of the Comanche Code Talkers and other Code Talkers were not forgotten either.
Mr. Tahmahkera suggested that I learn more about Charles Chibitty, who at the time was the only surviving Comanche Code Talker.
In January of 1941, Charles Chibitty enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned the Army's 4th Signal Company. Chibitty himself probably saved thousands of lives during the Normandy invasion alone, and he remembers, years after the battle, that he could clearly remember the messages he received and set out on D-day.
On that day, he identified where our troops were, protected them from being fired on by our own troops and, in general, completely confused the Germans. Chibitty specifically remembers saying in code to our men, ``Okay, we know where you are. Just keep on doing what you are doing.''
The code that Chibitty used was never broken.
For a long time, Germans believed it was just gibberish, and eventually the Germans sent spies to training grounds in Ft. Gordon and reservations in Oklahoma to try and crack the code. None of the spy missions were successful.
After hearing the compelling story of the Comanche Code Talkers from Mr. Tahmahkera, I introduced a bill to award the Comanche Code Talkers the Congressional Gold Medal in December 2001 during the 107th Congress.
I have worked to get these men an honor that is long overdue for the past several Congresses. After a lot of hard work and research by many different Members today, we are, at long last, honoring the Code Talkers who so nobly served our country during both World War I and World War II.
My friend, Representative DAN BOREN from Oklahoma, I appreciate his work and this Congress for bringing the bill to the floor.
Like the Navajo Code Talkers who were recognized for services in 2001, the Comanches, along with members of at least 15 other tribes, acted as Code Talkers in some capacity during both world wars. The Code Talkers were sent out on their own to provide communications on enemy locations and their strength.
They sometimes spent 24 hours in headphones without sleep or food. Many of these men endured terrible conditions without protection from the enemy. The Code Talkers were able to send messages in their native dialect, a code an enemy could never track. Military commanders credit the Code Talkers with saving the lives of countless American soldiers and ultimately to the success of the United States in many battles.
In my mind, the Native American Code Talkers are some of our Nation's greatest heroes. As my good friend, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England said, ``The story of the Native American Code Talkers is one of the most inspiring chapters in America's march to victory in World War II. Their heroic and dramatic contributions were instrumental in driving back our enemies across the Pacific.''
It's time for Congress to give the Native American Code Talkers the recognition they deserve for their contribution to U.S. victories in World War I and World War II.
Charles Chibitty, a true American hero, was also a loyal friend. He once turned town a Medal of Honor because it did not include all the four signal companies who he considered his brothers.
Chibitty said, I am glad that I am still here, but I miss my comrades. I know that my comrades that have already gone before me are listening and laughing right now. I know when I go up there someday, they will be there waiting for me.
Today, at long last, we honor the late Charles Chibitty and all of his friends who served our country as their service Code Talkers during World War I and World War II.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4544.