Morse Code Man

Robert N. Simpson from Plainwell, Michigan was 21-years old and drafted into the Army. He was trained as a radio operator with the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. On the bottom of the troopship Walker canvas bunk above his he wrote the town and state from which he came, added Water Wonderland and left his name and actual street address with the internationally recognized symbols that stand for letters and numbers. He also included mathematical equations relating to his military communications' specialty.

The bottom of the coded canvas contains the wording, apparently written by Simpson, from the 1960’s anti-war song Universal Soldier, written by singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Before entering service, while in school, Simpson participated in theatrical productions. He inscribed another Walker canvas with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, written out apparently as prose. Despite some misspelled words, the soldier was able to record the work from memory.

The soldier survived the war but was killed in 1992 when the ultra-light plane he was flying crashed.

Read the Smithsonian story here

Background of the song Universal Soldier

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Exhibit Schedules

    Part of the Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam is currently at the New York Historical Society in Manhatten through April 22, 2018. Information about the full Vietnam exhibit is available here

    Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam will be open at the USS Kidd Memorial in Baton Rouge, LA, from October 27, 2017 through February 28, 2018.