Prisoner of War Communications

Robert Strand

Nothing can be so deadly as living without communications with other humans! During the Vietnam War a number of Americans were taken prisoners and some were detained in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" and other prisons. These soldiers learned how to communicate with each other by tapping messages through the prison walls. Ex-Air Force pilot, Ron Bliss on describing this communication method said, "The Hanoi Hilton sounded like a den of run-away woodpeckers."

holeinwallTheir North Vietnamese captors never mastered the code. It went like this...the code laid out the alphabet on a simple 5-by-5 square grid. They omitted the K and substituted the C instead. It was five down and five across and left off the Z. They would tap the first time for the line and then the letter in that line. For example, for the letter B, they would tap once for the first line...then quickly tap, tap for the second letter which is B. It would be tap...tap,tap.

This code flowed so fluently that the men told one another jokes while kicks on the wall meant a laugh. They sent messages of encouragement to each other.

And every Sunday...at a coded signal that went through the prisons, at a specific time, they would all stand and collectively recited the Lord's Prayer, the 23 Psalm and the Pledge of Allegiance! This drove their captors nuts. They knew something significant was happening...but not being able to break the code or understand English all they could do was beat their prisoners.

Through the power of communications...they survived their imprisonments!

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter" (II Thessalonians 2:13).