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Welcome to DITS And DAHS

You might be aware of the Intelligence Cryptologists who deciphered encrypted enemy messages but if I mention the morse operators who copied them- there will be mainly cricket chirps in response. Those who dare hazard a guess will most likely describe a station master in the old west humped over a telegraph key sending a message.

Yet, from World War II until the latter part of the century, high-speed Morse code was the premier manner of sending encrypted dispatches between military units.

In November of 1970, while still a senior in High School, I was shocked to receive a draft notice from President Nixon. Instead of joining the regular Army, I tested high enough to qualify for the Army Security Agency- their signals intelligence branch. My first duty station was the 175th Radio Research Field Station located on a hill overlooking Bien Hoa Airbase in Vietnam.

Those of us who copied these messages on specialized typewriters were commonly referred to as diddyboppers. It was our mission to secure every dit and dah they sent. The communiques were then sent to cryptanalysis technicians to be decoded. I later discovered each branch of the military had their own signals division- the Air Force Security Service, Office of Naval Intelligence and the Marine Corps Intelligence.

This website is dedicated to enlightening and entertaining all who visit about Morse code, morse operators and my experience gathering intelligence during the Vietnam and Cold War. I dare say many will be surprised by the craziness of the operators and the irrational logic of the Army in handling us.

Before going any further, please visit the other pages to learn why we were considered gifted and why ‘Toy Story’ made my ‘Fun Facts About Morse Code’ list.

Rick Waters


Rick Waters

Army Security Agency (1971-74)
175th RRFS Bien Hoa Vietnam
Company C Augsburg Germany
Held Top Secret Cryptographic Special Intelligence security clearance
On Army Standby Reserve 1974-77
Recruited by NSA for an open position in England 1978
Rated 30% disability

The Temperature of War

by Rick Waters

Whether it be hot lead flying in the jungles of Vietnam or the coldness of Russian aggression, Morse code was the thread connecting every outrageous adventure in the secretive Army Security Agency. During a three-year hitch spanning three duty stations in the early seventies, Spec 4 Waters copied encrypted enemy messages transmitted in high-speed Morse. The communiques were then dispatched post-haste to cryptanalysis to be deciphered.

Imagine the uncertainty of defending an isolated intelligence compound with a full Company of rogue brainiacs. Such was life as a newbie Morse Operator rolling through the frequencies in search of talkative NVA and Viet Cong units to copy. If the rockets streaming overhead weren’t enough of a distraction, the go-go girls fronting nightly bands sure were. It was an untenable situation destined for failure until fate transformed every soldier into a Saigon Jed Clampett flush with women, fancy living and fast times; even Frankenstein in khakis would have received the rockstar treatment. Right up until the last remnants of the 175th were rounded up and ushered out of Vietnam.

The shock of moving to Augsburg Germany was reinforced by a visit to the Field Station where officers expected a snappy salute. Spec 4 Waters was assigned a position in the Russian bay copying the high-priority network of shock troops. Along with mastering the lightning-fast Morse came the freedom to ignore many of the rules. And to explore a summer of love during the waning days of flower power. Especially when Munich, the epicenter of rock concerts, was just an hour down the autobahn. Over time, storm clouds threatened to form as Spec 4 Waters continually pushed the boundaries at operations and made a powerful enemy. Any likelihood of receiving an honorable discharge grew fainter as his enlistment drew to a close.

Get your copy of The Temperature of War today!

NSA Documents

I recently went back to the website to see if there was anything else on Morse Intercept Operators. There was not and, in fact, these documents have disappeared from it. The very beginning of negative influence on the brain is explained in passing the plateau of 15 Groups Per Minute (75 characters). Because this occurred at the MOS school, it makes the injuries service related.

Fun Facts

From conception on, the influence of Morse code was interwoven into the very fabric of American life. Here are some unusual to strange examples to illustrate its influence on everything from high seas drama to everyday life.

Photo Gallery

Check out photos and leave a comment about the website or my story.

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