Did the Viet Cong find out about Admiral Denton's morse-coded "T-O-R-T-U-R-E?

The great American Senator/Admiral Jeremiah Denton recently died.

He is known among other things for his bravery in the Vietnam War as a Prisoner of War, most famously when he blinked in Morse code the word “torture” while responding to an interviewer’s questions in a staged propaganda television broadcast. In fact, his very words were awesomely brave. [YouTube link]

What was the history of who figured that out, and when? When was that made public, at least that the US recognized it, independent of any private citizens–who may saw it immediately? Did any? Was it broadcast by the US networks? Did the Communists become aware of it and subject Denton to further abuse as a direct response?

According to what I saw on TV, the V-C did not catch on. He was immediately tortured again right after the broadcast. If they knew, he would’ve been killed. America’s intelligence agencies caught the message but did not reveal it to the public for fear of reprisal against him.

Learning about it from TV last week (never trust anything you see on TV) they said that it wasn’t widely known in the US until long after he was released. Presumably because they knew that if they talked about it publicly it wouldn’t bode well for Denton.

I doubt the Vietcong knew anything about it until long after the war. If they had known about it I doubt Denton would have lived to tell about it later.

I don’t see why it was such a surprise that they were torturing US POWs. What did they think was happening to them?

It wasn’t a surprise. It did let us know he hadn’t cracked yet.

Someone that isolated would have no idea how much if anything was known to the outside. For all he knew the only information was from the propaganda broadcasts.

Did they need to special-order a coffin big enough to contain his brass balls?

Here is the video.

I’m amazed that he got away with it. His exaggerated eye blinking is very obvious. I can’t imagine how it was missed. Even if they didn’t know Morse code, he was obviously signalling something.

I’m thankful that Denton got away with it. It was a brave choice.

A similar event, this time in Korea. The captors were fooled for a time, then they did find out, and beaten if not tortured.

First they: North Vietnamese
Second they: the American public?
Them: the POWs

If I’m parsing that right, then how would the American public know about its POWs being tortured? They should have assumed it because the North Vietnamese were evil? All of our enemies have been evil, at least from our perspective, but not all of them have tortured our POWs.

A nitpick to the OP: Admiral Denton, was shot down, captured, and kept prisoner in North Vietnam. He presumably never came in contact with the Viet Cong, a mostly guerrilla force made of local people fighting Americans and the South Vietnamese Army within South Vietnam.

Yes, thank you. I was wondering about that when I wrote it.

When did US servicemen ever refer to North Vietnam–when they said they were up against “regulars?” Or, because of the theater, only US Air Force dealt directly with them?

All I have in my ear is VC or Charlie (the C for Cong). I was 4F and, in any event, missed the draft by one year. Clearly I don’t know shit about the war, and that makes me feel bad.

Nor do I, F4 when Ford ended the draft in my senior year of high school.
My Father who died two years earlier assured my Mother, based on his service in New Guinea in WWII, that he would take me away and hide me in a cave.

US troops fought the NVA a bunch…first major battle was Ia Drang in 1965. That was the battle that the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers” was about. But the Viet Cong got nicknamed Charlie. The NVA was just the NVA.

Aww – right or wrong (myself, I have no problem with it), I think that was a hella cool thing to say.

He was a cool guy.
He had malaria fourteen times. He scooped brains out of aircraft with his hands so that he could repair radio equipment. I believe this was during the Battle of the Bismark Sea, but he died when I was sixteen, and I didn’t know anything about WWII at that time, save that he and some of his friends won it. :slight_smile:

All of our Asian enemies have. It’s part of the war culture in that part of the world. The Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese all did it as part of your punishment for being weak enough to be caught.

Russian officers captured in the 1905 war were put up in hotels, and supplied with silk kimonos and female companionship. German captives in WWI were given equipment to brew beer and run sports programs. This was when the Japanese aspired to be a Western-style society (above and beyond we Americans and our atrocities during the Philippine Insurrection at the same time).

It was only in the next war, after the military took over the government, that it was found expedient to enflame anti-Western resentment that the abuses of POW’s began.

Of course, during the Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese did massacre Chinese civilians, and continued to do so after 1937.

It’s problematic to say that Asian war culture is nastier: perhaps they reached the same level of social development as Europe, lagging a few centuries behind, and so, for example, the Taiping Rebellion was China’s version of the Thirty Years’ War.