Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

Ham Radio/SW DXing. Get involved! Let's take back America's Radio Waves! What's going on in ham radio in America...

Moderator: Super Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
voguy
Pirate
Posts: 4175
Joined: 06-01-2011 05:47 PM
Location: Moving Target (soon SA)

Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

Post by voguy » 01-27-2016 04:27 PM

June 29, 2014
Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

The badass stories about Johnny Cash abound, and here over a decade after his death, his prominence as a man of cultural greatness still looms as large as it ever did. But arguably the first moment of greatness for Johnny Cash happened off the stage, well away from the spotlight, and before he was known to anyone as a musician.

In 1950, at the age of 18, Johnny Cash did what many young men of the time did, he enlisted in the United States military, specifically the Air Force, and was shipped off from his home in Arkansas to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. While there, he met what would be his future first wife Vivian Liberto at a roller rink, but the couple wouldn’t be married for another four years. After dating Vivian for only three weeks, Johnny received his deployment papers and was shipped off to a base in Landsberg, West Germany for a three-year tour. The base served as one of the forward outposts in the outbreak of the Cold War the world found itself in after World War II in the face of Soviet aggression.

Over Johnny’s enlistment period, he rose to the rank of Staff Sargent and became a crack Morse Code Operator in a Security Service unit. Because Cash showed such skill at deciphering Morse Code, he was put in a prominent seat at his Landsberg post to listen in on Soviet communications.

The Landsberg, Germany experience was an important marker in the life of the Man in Black. During his three years at the base, he exchanged hundreds of love letters with Vivian Liberto, and formed his first ever band, The Landsberg Barbarians. Though many people attribute Johnny Cash’s inspiration for writing one of his biggest hits “Folsom Prison Blues” to seeing the infamous prison first hand, he actually wrote the song while stationed in Landsberg, and seeing the film Inside The Walls of Folsom Prison. Johnny felt like he could relate to life in the clink because of his top secret military position. The sensitivity of his job necessitated that he couldn’t talk to anyone about what he did specifically, not even his love Vivian back in Texas, and Johnny’s off-base privileges were severely limited.

But all this secrecy also led to one of Johnny Cash’s biggest accomplishments. While manning his post on March 5th, 1953, Staff Sgt. Cash transcribed what would be a very important communique from the Russians. At the time, Soviet Premier Leader Joseph Stalin was in very poor condition. As the man at the head of the Soviet Empire, Stalin’s health status was of critical importance to the United States intelligence community and all Western Powers. While monitoring the Soviet Morse Code chatter on March 5th, Johnny Cash became the very first American to hear of the death of the Soviet supreme leader. Cash then relayed the important info to his superiors, and the rest is history.

Oh course, Johnny Cash couldn’t tell anyone of his accomplishment until years later because of the top secret nature of his job, and eventually the fact would just become a footnote of history to Johnny’s more famous musical efforts. Though Johnny Cash’s mastery of Morse Code and the Stalin death intercept may not seem to have much to do with his music on the surface, Cash’s ability to pick out important rhythms and tones in sometimes garbled, busy, and concealed communications lent later in life in his ability to find that unique sound that would speak to America, and eventually the world, in a language everyone could understand.

STORY & PICTURES
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

User avatar
Doka
Pirate
Posts: 5458
Joined: 09-02-2009 08:15 PM

Re: Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

Post by Doka » 01-27-2016 09:52 PM

Really a neat story. :D As a side note Stalin's granddaughter lives in Portland, Oregon.
Karma Rules

User avatar
voguy
Pirate
Posts: 4175
Joined: 06-01-2011 05:47 PM
Location: Moving Target (soon SA)

Re: Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

Post by voguy » 01-28-2016 05:34 PM

That's a good bit of trivia, Doka. I wonder what her take on the old soviet union might be.
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

User avatar
Doka
Pirate
Posts: 5458
Joined: 09-02-2009 08:15 PM

Re: Johnny Cash, Joseph Stalin, & The Great Morse Code Crack

Post by Doka » 01-28-2016 10:11 PM

Nov.2011

Portland granddaughter of Josef Stalin remembers her mother as a talented writer and lecturer in her own right

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/inde ... _jose.html
Karma Rules

Post Reply

Return to “Ham Radio/DXing”