“Morse Code Was Like Music”: From The WAC Band To Radio Intercepts In Vietnam

Carol Ogg


Carol Ogg grew up in Rollins, Wyoming, and always felt a patriotic urge to join the military. She enlisted on March 1, 1962, and attended Basic Training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, where she was exposed to more diversity than she found back home. Early on, she joined the WAC Band, and was playing in Florida for units assembled during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1963, she moved to Ft. Gordon, Georgia, and qualified as a Radio Teletype and Morse Code Intercept Operator. From there, she was assigned to the MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) Station in the Pentagon, where she served until 1966, when she was transferred to the National Security Agency MARS Station at Ft. Meade, Maryland. In 1968, she became a recruiter in Springfield, Massachusetts, but did not care for that assignment, as demonstrations against the war in Vietnam were increasing. In March, 1970, she volunteered for Vietnam, serving there until March, 1971. She worked with the Army’s Pacific History Team and the 509th Radio Research unit, where her mission was to document the effects of signal intelligence on the success or failure of firefights. After returning from Vietnam, she served as a Drill Sergeant and at the NCO Academy before retiring in 1980. After retiring from the Army, she attended Stonybrook University, and earned a degree in Social Science. In this interview, she talks about her desire to serve, and her various assignments in the Army. She describes seeing President Kennedy and Secretary McNamara drive by in a motorcade at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, and running communications at the Pentagon MARS station following the 1964 Alaska earthquake. She recalls how Kennedy’s assassination affected her, and compares it to how she felt on September 11, 2001. She discusses some of the tense situations she faced as a WAC recruiter. She explains how the Vietcong used Morse Code because of its simplicity, and how they turned American jamming into a method of sending code. She also describes one of the best, but most ruthless, Morse code operators in Vietnam, a North Vietnamese woman who tricked American units into firing on friendly forces. Finally, she addresses her post-Vietnam life, including serving as a Drill Sergeant, her education, and her engagement with Veterans’ organizations.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Camaraderie Courage Morale Patriotism Returning from War September 11 2001 Women in Service
interviewer David Siry
date 27 August 2016


name Carol Ogg
institution Stonybrook University
service Signal Corps
unit MACV, US Army Security Agency, 509th Radio Research Group, Pacific Historical Team
specialty Signal / Army Historical Team
service dates 1962 1980