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Charles Chibitty, at 83; last WWII Comanche code talker

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Charles Chibitty, the last survivor of the Comanche code talkers who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 83.

Mr. Chibitty, who had been residing at a Tulsa nursing home, died Wednesday, said Cathy Flynn, administrative assistant in the Comanche Nation tribal chairman's office.

The group of Comanche Indians from the Lawton area were selected for special duty in the Army to provide the Allies with a language that the Germans could not decipher.

Like the larger group of Navajo who performed a similar service in the Pacific theater, the Comanches were dubbed ''code talkers."

''It's strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Mr. Chibitty said in 2002. ''Later, my country asked me to.

''My language helped win the war and that makes me very proud. Very proud."

In a 1998 story for The Oklahoman, Mr. Chibitty recalled being at Normandy on D-Day, and said someone once asked him what he was afraid of most and if he feared dying.

''No. That was something we had already accepted," he said.

''But we landed in deeper water than anticipated. A lot of boys drowned. That's what I was afraid of."

''I wonder what the hell Hitler thought when he heard those strange voices," he once told a gathering.

Mr. Chibitty was born Nov. 20, 1921, near Medicine Park and attended high school at Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kan. He enlisted in 1941.

In 1999, Mr. Chibitty received the Knowlton Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding intelligence work, during a ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

''We could never do it again," Mr. Chibitty told Oklahoma Today. ''It's all electronic and video in war now."

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