September 6, 2022: Joseph Oklahombi

Army Veteran Joseph Oklahombi is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Joseph Oklahombi, who was a member of the Choctaw nation and served in the infantry as a code talker in World War I.

Born in May 1895 as a member of the Choctaw nation, Joseph Oklahombi was not officially recognized as a citizen of the United States at the time of his enlistment. Despite this, he enlisted in the Army and served as part of the Company D, 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, 71st Brigade of the 36th Infantry Division during World War I.

The Army established the use of “code talkers” as a part of a strategy to combat against Central Powers intelligence-gathering capabilities, and they used Choctaw in their communications in the 36th Infantry Division due to their predominance in the division itself. Oklahombi, a native speaker, played a vital role as code talker, and proved to be an integral factor in the closing days of World War I during the Mousse-Argonne offensive.

Oklahombi served as a translator in Company D. He accompanied 23 soldiers in an assault on an enemy position in St. Etienne, France, during which he helped lead the capture of a machine gun nest by purportedly dashing 210 yards through barbed wire entanglements while under fire. Alongside the rest of his company, he captured 171 enemy combatants. Oklahombi held his position for four days, braving fire while collecting information and aiding the wounded.

At the close of the war, Oklahombi returned to his wife and son in Wright City, Oklahoma. He would enlist again in World War II, but was not selected for the draft. Later in life, he was offered a role in a movie but declined it, as he did not want to leave his farm or fishing behind.

For his service, Oklahombi was awarded a Silver Star with a victory ribbon and the Croix de Guerre from the Republic of France. He was honored once more, on the 100th anniversary of World War I, when the Joseph Oklahombi World War I Choctaw Code Talker Bridge was dedicated in his name. According to his wife, this bridge was built over the creek in which he often fished.

Oklahombi died on April 13, 1960.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Writer: Milosh Mihajlovic-Klaric

Editors: Theresa Lyon, Merrit Pope

Researcher: Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic Designer: Brittany Gorski

By DME Interns

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Published on Sep. 6, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

Views to date: 2,231

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One Comment

  1. MARJORIE SWIFT CADY September 19, 2022 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Vietnam Veteran, Tribal leader, Author.

    Good Afternoon VA,
    My name is Marjorie Swift Cady. I am a VHA employee.
    My mentor, Rick Church, is a Vietnam Veteran. Tribal Leader, Author. He provides wonderful talks about the benefits of writing, and has a series published himself.
    Would you ever consider showcasing his talent in a publication or event? Possibly in-person as I’m sure people would want a book signing from him. Or orders could be mailed I’m sure.

    please let me know as I am happy to connect you.
    Rick now lives in Arizona but might consider travel outside of his region if you have a special place on an agenda for him.
    take care. Maggie

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