This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The last week of our 8 week course toward becoming a Communications Center Specialist was devoted to learning Z Codes. This would be followed by a test, which was a weekly event.

Our orders for Taiwan, Korea, Germany and Vietnam had already been cut, so this was just playing out the string and awaiting graduation at the big movie theater.

Then it was off for a month's leave before reporting for duty. For us 16, the destination at the end of May was Fort Lewis, Washington. 

The theory behind Z Codes for teletype communications was simple enough. Not all messages received, resembled the original message sent from somewhere.

Power surges or outages, equipment malfunction, and acts of nature such as earth tremors could mess up a message before it was finally received and printed. 

There are hundreds of these Z codes and we are showing just a few. If you would like to see them all, click HERE.

If a message received and printed was flawed, then we had 3-letter codes, beginning with the letter Z which described the problem with the message received and suggested what the original sender might do to correct the situation.

Shown here are the codes which began with ZE. For most of us throughout the world, receiving a message that wasn't entirely legible meant one simple step.

We would reference the message in question and attach the code  ZES-2, which highly encouraged the original creator of the punched paper tape message to send it again. 

Most of the time this meant fishing the message from a bin and resending it the same day. Sometimes it required typing the whole thing over. 

One night my co-worker at the Taipei Terminal (RUAGST) on the midnight shift sent a message with the last paragraph left off. The next morning, after I had taken over the shift, in came a message with a Z Code foreign to me.

So the scramble began to find the Z code which explained that a corrected copy of the noted message was being sent. It was found, attached, and the retyped message was sent on its way.

It must have worked since nothing else came back. The front offic(ers) was/were happy.

Z codes, incidentally, are still in use, mainly in radio communications.

My thanks to our Canadian friends for compiling this distinctive collection shown here.

Just one more thing about Z Codes. Our signal school class was an unusual mixture of students. College grads, high school dropouts and everyone in between went through this eight week grind together.

Two guys were neck-and-neck through the first 7 weeks to determine the highest overall grade.

It came down to the Z Code test, with the higher of the two competitors named the top graduate and saluting Colonel Moran after walking to the middle of the stage at graduation.

The post band kept playing Watermelon Man as hundreds of us with various MOS designations filed in. Check out the song HERE.

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