173rd Fighter Wing Crew Chief pays homage to Choctaw lineage, military service

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft have standard paint schemes designed to fit their combat role. However, there is one exception to the rule of uniformity required of military aircraft—nose art.

Many Kingsley Field aircraft have a small patch on the nosecone, each with its own story and meaning.

For F-15C dedicated crew chief Staff Sgt. Robert Holster, the nose art on his aircraft is a personal story of his heritage and his service to his country. Holster is Choctaw and traces his lineage to the Native American Choctaw Tribe, which today is a sovereign nation located in Eastern Oklahoma.

When Holster considered what he’d like his aircraft to display he was drawn to the story of the original Choctaw code talkers dating to WWI.

“When I became the crew chief on 2046 it didn’t have any nose art,” Holster said. “I took the opportunity to not only honor military tradition but also honor my heritage as a Choctaw Native American—to honor the Choctaw Code Talkers.”

Many are familiar with the Navajo Code Talkers during WWII, but the first use of code talking dates to WWI where the Choctaw language provided a means to keep the Germans from knowing the location and movements of American and allied troops.

The Germans were able to intercept and translate any radio communications to the front lines and used that advantage to shell friendly Soldier’s locations repeatedly.  After placing six Choctaw code talkers into service the shelling stopped, showing that although they could intercept telephone and radio communications, they could not translate them.

The moniker Telephone Warriors was adopted and a military patch was designed to commemorate them, “the symbol was an arrow with a “T” in it and that was for the telephone warriors,” Holster said.  That patch persists today, and is worn on 36th Infantry Division uniforms.

It occurred to Holster to reach out to the head of the Choctaw Nation, Chief Gary Batton, to participate in dedication ceremony here at Kingsley Field, and to his surprise he agreed.

“I was speechless; they came because I asked them to,” Holster said in reference to the visit by Chief Batton and several others.

During his remarks at the nose art dedication, Chief Batton said that he’s proud of the service so many of the Choctaw people render to the U.S. Military, “We want to do our part as American’s to protect our homeland.”

He went on to commemorate the service of the Code Talkers and “the great impact they had in ending World War I and the great service that they did for our country.”

The nose art itself is the original arrowhead shape, with a painting of the original Choctaw Code Talkers during WWI with tribal feathers and is emblazoned on the fuselage of F-15 Eagle aircraft 82-0046.

There it will stay, representing the contributions of the Choctaw people and the lineage of its Eagle Keeper, Staff Sgt. Robert Holster.