Duffys from All Over Gather at the Inn at Warm Springs

The Duffys are a group of men, and a few women, who served this country beginning just over fifty years ago.  They worked at posts all over East Asia and in Pacific Islands and after having retired from the military, or civilian jobs, have reconnected with each other, or with many meeting each other for the first time.  Tom Richardson, of Bacova  organized the reunion held May 2nd through 5th at the Warm Springs Inn, and from the larger group of around 40,  gathered about six members to talk about their work in the past.

Steve Whitaker:

“The Army Security Agency was a military intelligence gathering operation, with a mission supported, and reporting directly to the National Security Agency. And they sifted information gathered from other places, and sent it down to military units.”    Before being sent to often remote posts, they learned how to use radio technology at Fort Blevens in Massachusetts to find, and monitor enemy units by taking direction readings which would then be plotted on maps.

LarryHertzberg said:

“I was in what was called a type A company. We did Morse intercept, the direction finding.  We had analysts; we had linguists. We had all of this in one unit.  And so from lots of different places, information came in.”  Often Morse Intercept training began with as many as one hundred and fifteen members, and by the time all the code reading and signaling was routine, as few as nine recruits may have made the O5D position.  The Duffys worked both during wartime, such as in Korea and Vietnam, and also after conflicts had been reduced.  Again Steve Whitaker.

“And in the cold war scenario, we just monitor, where they are, and who they are, and what they’re saying, and where they’re going.  That includes air traffic, or when planes would overfly that part of the world, spy planes taking pictures, their anti-aircraft would come up Morse code, and to track them, their missiles wouldn’t fly high enough to shoot down those particular spy planes.  But we would track their air tracking stations to know where they were, and what they were saying. So we were collecting intel on a variety of platforms from that.”

Another very specific way the Duffys could keep track of enemy troops was by tracking individual radio devices they knew were associated with specific military corps.

Walter Hutchins of Georgia remembered how that worked. 

“Radio fingerprinting-  You would capture the radio signal on the oscilloscope, and you would print it.

“As troops came down the Ho Chi Min trail,  the radios would fail and you’d rebuild, we could track the unit by the characteristics of the radio because no matter how many parts in it you change, we could tell that it was yours, and if we knew where you were, we could tell where you were moving to.”

The radio fingerprinting also reflected how the equipment was passed around due to either trading, capture or adoption.

Steve Whitaker:

“There were transmitters we tracked over decades, that started in Russia, then went to China, then Vietnam cascaded down, hand me down.  In Okinawa we had records showing it used to be in Russia, ten years later it was in China;  fifteen years later it was in Vietnam.”

In the second of this pair of stories, a few of the Duffys who met in Warm Springs continue to describe their work, and how it changed over time.

For part Two please stay tuned to AMR.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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