Information Net for May 21

BSA to Offer Morse Code Interpreter Strip

Read by: PAUL KJ4WQN

For many years, Boy Scouts and Scouters have been able to earn an interpreter strip to wear on their uniforms. This strip — worn on the uniform above the right pocket — denotes proficiency in a foreign language or sign language. Each language has its own strip (with the name of the language embroidered in that language), and some Scouts and Scouters wear more than one strip. Now those hams involved with the Boy Scouts can show their proficiency in Morse code with a Morse code interpreter strip (with M-O-R-S-E spelled out in Morse code).

According to BSA Director of Communication Services Jim Wilson, K5ND, the idea for a Morse code interpreter strip came about during meetings preparing for the 2012 Jamboree on the Air (JOTA).


“One of the ideas presented was a variation on an interpreter strip for Morse code,” Wilson told the ARRL. “We played around with it a bit and then approached the BSA Awards Committee with the idea. They liked it, so we decided to explore the idea a bit more. We looked at the existing requirements for interpreter strips to see how they could be adapted for code. The BSA approved the strip in April, but we decided to wait until the strips were available before we announced it.” Wilson also serves as the BSA’s National JOTA Organizer and is President and Trustee of K2BSA, the BSA Headquarters Amateur Radio station in Texas.


The requirements to earn the Morse code interpreter strip are in line with the requirements of interpreter strips for other languages: Carry on a five-minute conversation in Morse code at a speed of at least five words per minute, and Copy correctly a two-minute message sent in Morse code at a minimum of five words per minute. Copying means writing the message down as it is received, and Send a 25 word written document in Morse code at a minimum of five words per minute.

“Together, Amateur Radio and Boy Scouting is a wonderful thing,” Wilson told the ARRL. “The new Morse code interpreter strip is a nice recognition of the special skill of Morse code and its use in emergency communications.

Read by: ADAM W8IFG

From my perspective, the strip gives us more buzz on things happening in Amateur Radio. In the past couple of decades, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of Radio merit badges that have been awarded. In 1991-2000, we awarded 20,000 Radio merit badges. But in 2001-2010, we awarded 54,000! The interest in this badge has grown by leaps and bounds, indicating not only a keen interest in the art and science of radio, but in technology, too.”Beginning with the 2013 National Jamboree, Wilson said that they will be teaching the Radio merit badge in four hours: “We will be teaching the badge every hour, on the hour. Scouts will spend 90 minutes in a classroom environment, 30 minutes on the air and then back to the classroom for another 90 minutes.


In four hours, they will have their badge.” K2BSA has operated at every National Jamboree since 1977 and will be at the 2013 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

“The sole purpose of any interpreter strip is to serve as an immediate, visual cue to others that the wearer is able to perform as an interpreter when needed, not to award the ability to converse in another language,” Wilson explained. “This is also why it is placed on the uniform is near the nameplate. When you wear the strip, whether it say Español, Français, Italiano, Signing or Morse, a Scout or Scouter is showing to the world that he or she has that proficiency to be tapped as an interpreter when needed.

Selected USMC Slogans

Excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, ©2001 Marion F. Sturkey


  • First to Fight: The media in the United States began using this term to describe U.S. Marines during World War I. And, for once the media was right. Marines have served in the vanguard of every American war since the founding of the Corps in 1775. They have carried out over 300 assaults on foreign shores, from the arctic to the tropics. Historically, U.S. Marines are indeed the first to fight.
  • Once a Marine, Always a Marine: This truism is now the official motto of the Marine Corps League. The origin of the statement is credited to a gung-ho Marine Corps master sergeant, Paul Woyshner. During a barroom argument he shouted, “Once a Marine, always a Marine!” MSgt. Woyshner was right. Once the title “U.S. Marine” has been earned, it is retained. There are no ex-Marines or former-Marines. There are (1) active duty Marines, (2) retired Marines, (3) reserve Marines, and (4) Marine veterans. Nonetheless, once one has earned the title, he remains a Marine for life.
  • Gung-Ho: The Chinese used this term to describe Marines in China around 1900. In the Chinese language, gung-ho means working together. That’s what the “American Marines” were always doing, “working together,” the Chinese explained. The term stuck to Marines like glue. Today it conveys willingness to tackle any task, or total commitment to the Corps.

Read by: RICK N9GRW

  • Good night, Chesty, wherever you are: This is an often-used tribute of supreme respect to the late and legendary LtGen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC. Chesty! Without a doubt he was the most outspoken Marine, the most famous Marine, the Marine who really loved to fight, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps. Chesty enlisted as a Private. Through incredible fortitude and tenacity he became a living legend. He shouted battle orders in a bellow and stalked battlefields as though impervious to enemy fire. Chesty rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. He displayed an abiding love for the Magnificent Grunts, especially the junior enlisted men who did the majority of the sacrificing and dying, and utter contempt for all staff pogues of whatever rank. During his four wars, he became the only Marine to be awarded the Navy Cross five times. The Marines’ Marine! “Goodnight, Chesty, wherever you are.”
  • A Few Good Men: On 20 March 1779 in Boston, Capt. William Jones, USMC, advertised for “a few good men” to enlist in the Corps for naval duty. The term seemed ideally suited for Marines, mainly because of the implication that “a few” good men would be enough. This term has survived for over 200 years and has been synonymous with U.S. Marines ever since.

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