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Tue Dec 24, 2019, 08:24 PM

Johnny Cash had a knack for deciphering Morse Code & was 1st American To Know Stalin Was Dead

The things you learn on twitter...

How Johnny Cash Became The 1st American To Know Stalin Was Dead

Years before anyone would know him as a country music singer – let alone a legend in the genre – Johnny Cash would achieve something like nobody else in all of the country…

A young, spry 18-year-old Johnny Cash quickly enlisted in the United States military and his knack for quickly crunching Morse Code and deciphering it proved invaluable to the Air Force.

... snip

During this post, Cash earned the rank of Staff Sargeant and his knack for deciphering Morse Code was recognized. He was quickly moved into a Security Service unit as a Morse Code operator and was given an important role to decipher Soviet communications.

While at his listening post in Landsberg, West Germany, Cash also formed his very first band and was inspired to write one of his most recognized songs “Folsom Prison Blues” while likening his life on a secret post to life in the prison.

Because of the incredibly sensitive nature of his position, Cash couldn’t discuss anything about his work life with people outside of his unit – and for that reason, it wasn’t until many years later that he could reveal the important role he played.

More: https://countrymusicfamily.com/how-johnny-cash-became-the-1st-american-to-know-stalin-was-dead/





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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 08:34 PM

1. Made it to SSgt (E-5) on first enlistment. He was very good at his work.

Thank you Man in Blue.

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Response to sarge43 (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 09:53 PM

2. Wow. My dad would have love to have heard this story. During WWII (1943-45) my dad was a Navy....

.... radio operator.

He spent months in the Amazon jungle in radio station intercepting German radio communications in the South Atlantic.

This was during the time we were fighting in North Africa and the German's sent U-Boats into the South Atlantic to attack troops and supply ships.

My dad never revealed what he did until the early 1970s. Twenty-five years after his discharge.

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Response to usaf-vet (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 12:03 AM

9. Incredible! Some of his intercepts, if

encoded into Enigma, were probably relayed for translation into actionable information.

Of course, the allies didn't act on everything they learned thru breaking Enigma. They couldn't take a chance the Germany would realize that the allies knew everything. Rommel was shut down in north Africa and sent scurrying back to Hitler to beg for a retreat because of misdirection, verified using Enigma.

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:56 AM

11. Wow. You know a lot about what he was doing. There is a larger story of course.

Ilsa how do you know the basic story?

For years after the war, he would say that he was a radio operator. Finally, after the 25 years, he said he was in naval intelligence and expanded on the story.

His radio station was one of 5 others along the South American eastern seaboard. They were all using a new technology that was highly classified. It was called HuffDuff for short. I stood for Hi-Definition Radio Directional Finding, They were able to locate the subs by triangulation and then task flying torpedo planes to attack the subs.

The German's kept very specific records about their subs from the date of manufacturing, the crew, the captain, their battle actions, including where they were lost (sunk).

He told me that his unit was award a presidential unit citation. Although I was able to acquire his nearly complete military records with the help of a congressman. I did not get the entire record because part of it was still classified.

OK, the rest from here to the end is pure speculation based on my research.
The German records indicated that one of the subs in that region of the South Atlantic was boarded and captured. And that an Enigma machine was captured. Enigma history did reveal that the German's upgrade the original Enigma to a model that doubled the number of interchangeable wheels in the device. Make the breaking of the coded message even harder.

I have speculated that they might have captured one of the newer machines from that boarded ship. And for that action were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. My dad was never really clear about details. Either from lost memories or honoring an oath, he took to not divulge details. He passed away in 1999. He had a service-connected disability and suffered from a parasitic jungle disease in the hot sweaty summer months. He never let his disability slow him down and worked at his beloved trade as a printer.

Back to factual info. He often had a second part-time job to help raise 6 kids.

Two quick notes when I was a teenager I would go with him on Sundays to a ham radio buddy (W1KBV) of his to search the dials for folks to "talk" to. These Sundays were in the early 1960s. My dad at that point nearly 30 years after the fact could still read morse code faster than the young ham operator.

Point two my dad loved to fish on one of his trips to where we live he went on a day fishing trip with a brother-in-law ex USGC. They fished and talked. My dad told the brother in law that after the jungle station he was transferred to Washington state code school to learn Japanese code and was scheduled to be inserted into a listening post to intercept Japanese communications in preparation for an invasion of Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Saved him that trip. And if not I might not be telling this story

Remember some of this is pure speculation although his military records support all the assignments and the code training schools.
Oh, one other thing I was able with the invent of the internet (Circa1978) to locate one of his buddies from the Amazon jungle radio station. He confirmed the things my dad had told me.



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Response to usaf-vet (Reply #11)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 11:26 AM

13. That is a great story! You and your kids (if you have any)

should (I guess you have) document it all and continue the research when those items become declassified. I'm so sorry your dad had so many health issues from his service.

As far as my knowledge goes, there is some basic stuff I'd tell you only in a message so as not to ID myself to anyone on this board. But other things, I learned from watching those abbreviated documentary series on cable tv, such as WWII in Color. They have segments on various turning points in military actions, including the capture and liberation of Malta, how Montgomery took the place of another British general in N. Africa, the taking of El-Alamein, etc.

What was striking to me as an adult was Hitler's hubris in firing so many of his generals. ("I know more than the generals. ) He lost the war not just by taking on Russia, but not having clear reasons for attempting to take certain areas.

The movie with Benedict Cumberbatch about Enigma was pretty good. I don't know how much of the technical stuff was reality. But one dramatic (and likely untrue) detail in the movie that was so heartbreaking was when they discovered they had the code, and realized the next attack from that first decripted message would be against an Allied resupply convoy. One of the people in the group had a brother aboard one of the ships. The sibling insisted they be warned. The mathematician said they couldn't; that would have to be a strategic decision by the generals and pols. Preventing every attack using sigint would tip off the Germans. They needed to keep the secret until more critical objectives could be achieved. I had never thought about that detail and the pain and guilt it creates in sacrificing "pawns."

I'll send you a message shortly.

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Response to usaf-vet (Reply #11)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 02:18 PM

14. What an amazing story!

Thanks so much for sharing.

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 10:08 PM

3. well dayum....

who knew...

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 10:15 PM

4. That's fascinating! Thanks! It only increases my admiration of him...

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 11:10 PM

5. I think there was a study linking music proficiency to morse code, same part of the brain thing

I can copy 20 words per minute & am great at singing in the shower 😋

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Response to yaesu (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 11:49 PM

7. Any coding. I've met so many programmers

(Software engineers, coders, etc) whose first hobby beyond computers was performing music semi-professionally. Definitely connected.

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Response to yaesu (Reply #5)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 07:35 PM

16. Well need 3rd party verification of the shower singing quality.



=========

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Response to Beartracks (Reply #16)

Fri Dec 27, 2019, 01:52 AM

18. 😅😉😋

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2019, 11:11 PM

6. I did the same job in Vietnam and the rest of SE Asia

For almost 7 years. Signal Intelligence.

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 12:02 AM

8. Can Johnny Cash be any cooler?

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 12:13 AM

10. the key (pun unintended) for doing Morse code is not to count

The dots and dashes, but to listen to the music of the code. Each letter has a different sound and each word has a different melody.

P.S; if you're wondering "what pun";


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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 05:59 AM

12. Very interesting

I had never heard this, Thanks!

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 03:26 PM

15. Morse code was invented for Latin alphabet

So, it had to have been translated before JC picked it up.

Very interesting new fact about Johnny. Thanks.

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Response to MelissaB (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2019, 10:09 PM

17. My Dad

Daddy was an employee at RCA in NYC. He would decode compressed wireless Morse code messages (raw news feeds) from overseas for UPI and AP. Then the messages were sent out over the wire in the US.

On September 3, 1944 he decoded a message from Belgium, stating that Brussels had been liberated by the Allied forces, hence he was the first person in North America to know this. He had just turned 17 a week earlier.

Daddy later enlisted the the Navy and for many years held the Navy west coast speed record for manual sending and receiving Morse code.

One thing I know very well is Morse code.

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