The Battle
June 1919, Joseph Oklahombi returns to the United States with the ribbons of the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross) and the Silver Citation attached to his jacket.

36th Division MapJoseph Oklahombi: Native American Soldier and Code Talker

Far from Europe and the war that broke out in the summer of 1914, 19-year-old Choctaw young man Joseph Oklahombi is unaware of the tragedy that will carry civilizations into an unprecedented conflict. He lives in the Kiamichi Mountains (south-eastern Oklahoma) on a land assigned to the Choctaw people by the United States since 1825. True to Choctaw traditions, he knows that his people are native of Mississippi and as the Legend, born of a mountain called Nanhi Waya.

But the globalization of the war is coming to look for young men in the most remote countries; Joseph Oklahombi decides to volunteer and walks 22 miles to enlist. He is assigned to the 141st infantry regiment of the 36th American division of Texas/Oklahoma National Guard. This regiment includes many Native Americans in its ranks including Choctaw. By their commitment, they are wishing for a better social recognition, long claimed by the elders of their tribe.

The 36th Division arrives in Champagne on 23 September 1918 and it takes over the positions of the 2nd American Division as of 7 October. Taking advantage of the Allied bombardment, the battle is quickly started on 8 October near the village of Saint-Etienne-à-Arnes by a patrol composed of 23 men including Joseph Oklahombi (Company D). The offensive is scheduled for 5:30am in the morning, but Oklahombi decides to start earlier. The company is short grenades and ammunition, so he carves a potato into the shape of a grenade and charges out of the trench giving his battle cry. The German lines and trenches are all wired for sound and the animalistic cry stuns them and Oklahombi is able to take over a machine gun nest by shooting several Germans (he is an excellent rifle marksman) and holds it until his patrol catches up with him. He and his whole patrol are pinned down by German counter-attacks and Joseph Oklahombi and his comrades will hold the Germans prisoners for four days—without reinforcements, food or water. The company finally turns over 171 German prisoners and their collective armaments (machine guns and trench mortars) when reinforcements show up.

An American officer hears the Choctaw soldiers talking to one another in Choctaw and realizes that this language skill could be valuable to the Allies. A problem that the Allies have been having is that the Germans are able to intercept and translate all communications issued by the Allies. Despite the personal risk, the Choctaw soldiers including Joseph Oklahombi will transmit with the American line in the Choctaw language, depriving the Germans of any possibility of translation. Franco-American troops take advantage of this to bypass the village of Saint-Etienne-a-Ames by the east and west, forcing the Germans to withdraw from the banks of the Arnes. As a result of this success, American Choctaw soldiers continue to be used in first line communications as Code Talkers. And because of their achievements, the war quickly comes to an end.

June 1919, Joseph Oklahombi returns to the United States with the ribbons of the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross) and the Silver Citation attached to his jacket. Very humble, he has only one wish: to find his wife and son in the Kiamichi mountains, to live quietly, get back involved in his church, hunt squirrels and fish. Joseph gets a job at the local lumber mill after his return and works there until  sadly, he dies on April 13, 1960, after being struck by a truck as he is walking alongside a road. Joseph Oklahombi is a worthy representative of the warrior values ​​of both his nations, America and Choctaw, and is buried with military honors.

Joseph Spoke No English
He walked 26 miles to volunteer for the United States Army. He left behind his young wife and baby son.
No Grenades Used A Potato
The unit had no grenades, Joseph carved one out of a potato and went over the top earlier than his company.
Joseph's War Cry Of A Panther
This startled the Germans and Joseph was able to run to the first German machine gun nest and take control of it until the rest of the men in his unit arrived.
Held 171 German Prisoners
The men then turned the enemy’s own guns on them and held 171 Germans prisoner for four days under constant barrage of high explosives and gas shells.