h/t Matt Bracken, WRSA, and over two thousand Vietnam POWs
|Many reports put the K with J, rather than C.|
Either approach works.
They were kept in solitary confinement for their entire stays, some for up to 9+ years, until the last couple of weeks before B-52s blowing hell out of Hanoi convinced NVN that giving them back, and laying off South Vietnam was in their best interest, unless they wanted a rubble pile for a country.
North Vietnam still got off too lightly, and we should have nuked them on general principles.
Their extra-curricular activities undoubtedly broke, maimed, and disfigured most of the POWs they held for life, which was why they only released the prettiest and least-disfigured fraction (596) of the men we knew (estimates up to 2500+) they were holding. (FTR, they released the last 13 French POWs from Dien Bien Phu, from 1954, sixteen years later, long after that debacle and the subsequent French withdrawal.) The US POWs they undoubtedly shipped onwards to the Soviet Union and China - senior SAC and B-52 guys with loads of valuable intel in their heads during the Cold War - or held themselves for further torture and amusement, either died in captivity, most after 1973, or they were simply executed at some point, to a metaphysical certainty - when the commie bastards running Vietnam to this day and still holding them prisoner got tired of feeding them and playing with them because they'd run out of things to do to them. Anyone alive now would be in their 70s or 80s, extremely unlikely given that sort of treatment. They're almost certainly dead at this point in time. They're not forgotten, and what they left us includes the Tap Code.
But I digress.
The key to using the Tap Code, is understanding how to use the box, above, info that was somewhat glossed over in the links above.
It is properly used by going down, and then right, for each letter.
As noted in the exemplar at WRSA and by MB, abbreviations can be, and were, used.
"Gob Bless You" became "GBU".
Most of you already know what BFYTW stands for.
Using tap code, that would become:
One tap, two taps
Two taps, one tap
Five taps, four taps
Four taps, four taps
Five taps, two taps
Numbers are simply numbers, 1-9. (Z or O can be substituted for zero.)
Here's a bit more explanation from the originator:
That, plus memory, allowed guys in a 5'x5' darkened cell to know the names of everyone in their cell block, everyone in their prison, every name of every POW captured, and trade Bible passages, song lyrics, personal stories and details, and anything else, and keep it in their heads indefinitely.
Pray to a merciful deity this remains wartime arcana from before you were born, and doesn't become day-to-day useful. Because commies do what commies do. Every. Single. Time.