History Friday: MacArthur’s Sioux Code Talkers

I have mentioned in a previous column (https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/36669.html) that researching and understanding MacArthur’s WW2 fighting style was an exercise in frustration due to existing institutional historic narratives plus the patchwork and mayfly-like lives of some of the institutions MacArthur created and used to fight in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). Organizations that were discarded by the US Army after WW2 and then hidden behind bureaucratic walls of classification for decades. One of my internet searches stumbled across another example of these many, small, ‘here today and gone tomorrow’, narrative busting organizations in MacArthur’s South West Pacific Theater, his Sioux Indian Code Talkers.

Unlike the much more publicized US Marine Corps Navajo Code Talker program, this smaller “Code Talker” program used Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Sioux Native American soldiers in MacArthur’s South West Pacific Theater and in Europe. The program was not declassified until the mid-1970’s and the US Army has never seen fit to publicly recognize their Sioux code talkers to the extent that the USMC has with its Navajos. It does not fit the narrative on MacArthur.

MacArthur’s Code Talker program was smaller than both the USMC program and the European Theater Comanche code talker program with the 4th Infantry Division (whose cover was blown to the Axis by the NY Times in 1940!) and was centered around the US Army’s 302nd Reconnaissance Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Division, a battalion sized horse cavalry Reconnaissance unit, that was reorganized into two company sized units, the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized) and the 603rd Independent Tank Company. Some of the 302nd code talkers graduated from the same course that the 6th Army Alamo Scout infiltration teams were selected from.

See this 1st Cavalry Division Association link (http://www.first-team.us/tableaux/chapt_02/) on the 1st Cav’s “Sioux Code Talkers” —

“During the fall of 1943, more changes came to the Division. On 11 October, the firepower of the Division was improved by the activation of the 271st Field Artillery. In the reorganization of 04 December, weapons troops “D” and “H” were added to each of the regiments. The 7th Reconnaissance Squadron was reorganized into the 603rd Light Tank Company and the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop (Mech). The 302nd had a specific Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) which incorporated a unique radio unit with troops of Lakota and Dakota Indian Tribes who used their ancient tribal Sioux language to communicate with other divisional headquarters troops. This secret organization, formed in the foothills of Australia and later to be known as “The Code Talkers” was recruited at the direction of General MacArthur. The close-knit group of individuals, Phillip Stoney LeBlanc, Edmund St. John, Baptiste Pumkinseed, Eddie Eagle Boy, Guy Rondell, and John Bear King took their task seriously. They saved many American lives using their language as an unbreakable code to fool the Japanese throughout the subsequent Island Campaigns.”

See also this individual Sioux code talker memorial site–


“Walter C. John was born February 4, 1920, in Santee, Nebraska. He was an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. His parents were Mr. & Mrs. Charles and Esther (Wolf) John. His Dakota name: “Hok si da Shug Ya Mani” (Walking Strong Boy) and also known as “Cody”.”


“While being stateside he, was in training to be a radio operator, with other Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota native soldiers. (L.D.N.’s) they spoke their native “dialects” (languages) which were understood by each native soldier in the unit. The language became the U.S.Army secret advantage towards ending the war. Their language was used as the code: a system of symbols (as in communication with special meanings) Webster Dictionary. Their training started in Fort Hood, and Fort Bliss. In “History Books of the U.S. Army” it states that their language was a code to confuse the Japanese Army.

The Army outfit of Code Talkers was so secret that it was kept classified, until the 1970s, when it was declassified.”

and see this web site on the history of the 1st Cavalry Division —


“The remainder of 1943 was used for training and organizational training in Australia. As a side note of military history, the 1st Cavalry Division had Native American “Code Talkers.” Like the more famous Navajo Code Talkers who served with the Marine Corps, the radio platoon of the 302nd reconnaissance Troop recruited, at the direction of General MacArthur, Lakota and Dakota Indians who used their Sioux language to communicate to other Divisional Headquarters troops. The Japanese never broke this “code.” In January of 1944, the First Team moved out to stage in New Guinea for their first combat action.”

And finally, one of these US Army Sioux code talkers was a graduates of the 6th Army “Alamo Scout” recon team training, see —


“Other Alamo Scout graduates also served as codetalkers. Sergeant Guy F. Rondell, a Lakota from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, was a graduate of the second Alamo Scouts training class and returned to the 302nd Recon Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Division. He was one of only eleven Lakota Sioux B3 Codetalkers that served during the war. Six served in the Pacific and five in Europe.”

These Sioux Code Talkers would have had a major role to play in Operation Olympic landings, as the US Army had in July 1945 just discovered that the Japanese “walkie-talkie” Type 94 (1934) Mark 6 radios could monitor the U. S. SCR-610 and SCR-608 frequency modulated (FM) radio sets with American infantry and tank units. Prior to that discovery, American troops thought FM radios were secure from Japanese monitoring and took no security precautions with them. The ability of the battalion level Japanese “walkie-talkie” field radios to hear American FM tank radios may have been a huge and unexamined contributing cause to the massacre of 22 tanks belonging to the 193rd Tank Battalion on 19 April 1945 at the Okinawan Battle of Kakazu Ridge.

When the war ended, the Sioux code talkers were sworn to secrecy, demobilized, and their contributions in the SWPA forgotten, much to their frustration as the Navajo Marine Code talkers were declassified and their stories came to light starting in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s with an on-going media campaign by the larger number of Navajo code talkers telling their story. Today you still can’t find a mention of the Sioux code-talker contribution in the SWPA on Wikipedia!

The internet now holds the Sioux Code Talker stories for you to search out…and alter your understanding of the “MacArthur Narrative.”

3 thoughts on “History Friday: MacArthur’s Sioux Code Talkers”

  1. You may be wrong on one point. In the movie “Battlecry” (1955), if I recall correctly,there is a scene in which Native Americans (TM) code talk. The poor Japs listening in are left bewildered.

    Good post.

  2. I didn’t even know about this – and not surprised that the NYT was its usual self even in the 1940s.

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