Milestone: Army Ends Its Morse Code Training

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posted on May 2, 2015
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In 1985, the Army became the executive agency for conducting the Morse code course on Fort Devens, MA. A few years later, Fort Devens consolidated Morse code training into a joint learning environment by providing training to Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Then, in 1993, the Morse code course moved to Fort Huachuca, where it continued to be offered in a joint environment.

On April 5, 2015, the Army marked 30 years as the executive agency conducting Morse code training. The final training course began this week, on April 27, which also marked the 224th birthday of code founder, Samuel F. B. Morse, and the annual commemoration of Morse Code Day. Morse dispatched the first telegraph message in Morse code, May 24, 1844, sending the message, “What Hath God Wrought?” from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, to Alfred Vail at a railroad station in Baltimore.

The military first used Morse code during the Crimean War, while both Union and Confederate forces relied heavily on Morse code during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln utilized it to receive military intelligence, as well as command and control his generals in the field.

Even in an increasingly high-tech world, there is still a need for this old-school mode of communication, said David Germain, chief of Morse code training and sole remaining civilian Morse code instructor at the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion.

“We train [for] Morse code because the adversary still uses Morse code,” said Germain, who, along with another course instructor, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Henrichs, are training two airmen to serve as Morse code instructors the Air Force on Goodfellow Air Force Base, TX.

”I think [Morse code] will always be out there,” Germain said. “It’s cheap, easy, effective and reliable to use. There will always be a need for it.”

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