Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Chuck Cryptographer

=Chuck Hinman: Chuck Cryptographer. Chuck emphasizes the seriousness of his World War Two work and asks, who wants to die by being strung up by your fingernails?
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Waiting in the doctor's office

By Chuck Hinman

Chuck Cryptographer

Don't have much lined up for today so will add a few remarks, never previously revealed about my 'cryptographer' work in service. After finishing basic training in the Air Force in 1942 at Sheppard Field, Texas, I was assigned to training in California.

Chuck's friends and neighbors interviewed for security clearance

When I was chosen to go to 'Crypt' school, I was aware that I had to be cleared for Top Secret (the highest) security. I didn't know until years after the war, who all of my friends and neighbors had been questioned about me -- for my Top Secret clearance. They really checked you out - big time!

In addition our training and actual work was very secure. When we were doing our thing, there was an armed guard on duty outside the barricaded working area.

Training on the M-209 not to be breathed to anyone

The laugher is -- when I first went to crypt school in Fresno, California, I trained on a machine called (I believe) an M-209 -- it wasn't the 'ultimate' but just the training machine. It was kind of box shaped with a typewriter keyboard.

Cryptographers were constantly reminded of the terrible fate that would come to us if we breathed anything about our business to anyone, including wives! And I, and everyone else, took our work seriously!

M-209 seen in a pawn shop but seriousness maintained

But one time, I and some crypt buddies were walking the streets of Fresno and noticed an M-209 in the windows of a big pawn shop -- which shops were always the friend of service people!! We hooted about that but never let up on the seriousness of our mission. After all, who wants to die by being strung up by your fingernails?

My fingernails are kind of messed up from fungus infection received in the Marianas Islands but not from revealing any secrets as a cryptographer -- not even close!

Psst -- don't tell anyone what I have told you!


Written by Chuck Hinman. Date unknown but before May 2005.

Editorial Note: When I saw 'laugher,' I immediately thought 'laughter' misspelled but there is such a word and its meaning is appropriate to cryptographers: a contest or competition in which one team easily overwhelms another. Wish I could ask Chuck! -RHS

This story was posted on 2013-08-25 00:41:00
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.


Quick Links to Popular Features content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Use the following link:

Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270-250-2730 Fax: 270-751-0401

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.