The Story of the Choctaw Indian Code Talker Exhibit
Brigadier General John C. L. Scribner, the founder and first director of the museum, was a great historian and visionary. He was tasked by the Adjutant General to establish a museum on Camp Mabry that grew from an office “full of stuff” into a 45,000 square foot premier museum that is visited by thousands annually.
In June 2005, his health declining, he hired Colonel (Retired) Pat W. Simpson to be the new Director. One of the first things that General Scribner told Colonel Simpson was that he had a list of 10 things that he wanted to do in the museum. On this list was the building of a display to honor the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I.
After General Scribner died in May 2006, Colonel Simpson held a brain-storming session of how to do more with less. It was pointed out the Boys Scouts are required to do a project before advancing to Eagle, and Girl Scouts are required to accomplish a project before being awarded the Gold Star Award, and many schools require community service in order to graduate. From this session a list of “projects” was developed and on this list was ‘build a display depicting the Choctaw Code Talkers.
One day, a young man named Jared Wayne Harris came to the museum seeking an Eagle Scout project. He was given the list and asked to look over it and decide what he would like to do. He didn’t want to landscape the museum picnic area or the front of the museum. Cataloging the Technical Manuals and Field Manuals did not appeal to him either. He had never heard of the Choctaw Indian Code Talkers and when he researched them on the internet, he knew what he wanted to do - - build an exhibit to honor them.
He had made his selection and was referred to Carl Deichmann, the museum Exhibits Specialist, and former Scout leader. Jared and Carl came up with the design for this exhibit. It was submitted to the Scout Office and came back approved. Working evenings and weekends, with the help of his family and scouts from his troop, Jared and Carl built the display that was dedicated in September 2007.
Jared then asked why the State of Texas could not award the descendents of the Code Talkers a medal and from that grew the awarding of the Lone Star Medal of Merit.
Jared Wayne Harris was awarded his Eagle Scout Badge in May 2007. But equally important to him was the fact that he and Carl Deichmann did something to call attention to the little known “Original Code Talkers”.