Vocabulary and Small Arms Training

The civilian code-talkers proceeded directly from orientation to the intensive seminar room. Waiting there was Professor Harold Bloom, who had been brought to drill the code-talkers in Akkadian vocabulary. The vocabulary session, like the other activities at the training center, was recorded in full.

Ed Fluegel: [Whispering] That's Harold Bloom.

Bruce Springsteen: [Whispering] Yeah.

Professor Harold Bloom was looking down as the civilian code-talkers came in, shuffling through notes.

Harold Bloom: Hi. You know that we're to go over some Akkadian vocabulary here. And we've got some materials for you, um, besides what's been handed out already, earlier. Ahm, and I should introduce myself, I guess. I'm sorry if this is a bit rough here. I do like teaching but I'm not really down here very often, you know. I guess this is really ... this is about the third time. Anyway, I'm Harold Bloom.

EF: Wow. You really are.

GD: Hi.

BS: Hi.

Professor Bloom looked closely at the class.

HB: Ah, excuse me, but you're ... you're Bruce Springsteen, aren't you?

Bruce Springsteen was observed on video to grin at this point.

BS: Yeah ... you read my name tag, huh?

HB: Come on. Really?

BS: [Laughter.] Yeah.

HB: No shit?

Agent Virgule: Ah ... Professor Bloom. Mister Springsteen is, as it is indicated on his name tag, that is him, he is here ... like the others ... to serve as a civilian code-talker. It's really best if you don't, ah, recognize him, particularly. Please, Professor Bloom, let's continue with the vocabulary drill as we have on the schedule.

HB: Ah, all right. Heh ... that's pretty funny ... So! Let's take a look at the words we're going to translate.

At this point the group began a protracted study session, examining a list of English words related to the operation and memorizing their Akkadian equivalents. The complete transcript of the discussion is not included in this report, as the study materials provide a reasonably complete overview of the code-talkers' session with Professor Bloom.

HB: So, all of you are pretty well acquainted with the terms we're going to use. Not too much in the way of coinages here, but it will be important to remember the special meanings we're giving these words, to adapt the vocabulary to modern, um, military needs. So, are there any questions?

Ed Fluegel looked across the room to the agent.

HB: No? Then I guess you're ready for whatever comes next. I'll see you again this evening for a bit of a review and a practice code-talking session, and then I guess you'll move on. And I'll head back to the university ... ahm, I've got this talk about the perils of electronic writing and other business to deal with, you know.

Agent Virgule stood and moved to the door as the civilian code-talkers picked up their papers and placed them in the provided folders.

AV: OK, we'll move out to the range ... um, to lunch, lunch is next, and then to the firing range.

The code-talkers all stood up and began to move toward the exit. Fluegel stopped to speak to Bloom.

EF: [Quietly.] Professor Bloom, one thing I don't ... you work for the CIA?

HB: No, no. I don't, it's just, you know how it is, some of the federal grant money I get does have some conditions attached, and the funding is ... I can't really go into it but, you understand.

AV: Ahem, if you'd please come along to the door, everyone.

At this time, 12:19, the code-talkers were taken to a visitor room in the main cafeteria. The lunchtime conversation among the code-talkers took place almost entirely in muffled Akkadian. What has been deciphered of this indicated that it is not relevant. The following English excerpts were recorded, however:

EF: Better eat up, Gordon. You'll need your energy, you know. We're gonna go squeeze off a few rounds after this.

BS: Yeah, off to shoot some guns next.

[Gordon Doe spoke in a monotone chant.]

Gordon Doe: So they put a rifle in my hand ... and sent me off to a foreign land.

BS: You're a riot, Gordon.

At 13:23 the code-talkers were taken to the firing range for weapons training. For obvious reasons instruction in the firing range is not monitored by microphones sensitive enough to record conversation. Interviews with two instructors and the agent accompanying the code-talkers revealed the progression of events described below.

The three civilian code-talkers were shown, by three instructors, 9mm Berettas. They were instructed how to load the magazine into the weapon, remove the magazine, engage and disengage the safety, and determine whether there was a bullet in the chamber. They were informed about the semiautomatic action of the pistol and regarding the danger of muzzle flash. Using targets in the shape of a person's head-on silhouette, situated 5 and then 10 meters away, they practiced discharging the pistol under the supervision of the instructors.

Springsteen and Fluegel were not expert, but were acceptably able to hit the stationary target with more than 80% accuracy from 5 meters and more than 50% accuracy from 10 meters. Oddly, Doe, despite previous small arms safety training from CIA, was unable to hit the target at all from 5 meters. At 10 meters he struck it with every round he fired. He did indicate an understanding of the pistol safety measures needed, and he, along with the others, was judged as passing the pistol safety course.

Then, a course of training analogous to the pistol course was provided, using the M-16 automatic rifle. Fluegel had difficulty controlling aim while firing the weapon on full automatic and sustained a minor strain, but all were adjudged to have learned small arms safety appropriately. Fluegel afterward appeared visibly impressed by his first experience with firearms, to the extent that the instructor later noted concern that Fluegel appeared unduly euphoric.

The instructors reported only one unusual comment from Ed Fluegel. He said, after being told once more that the training course was for safety only, "It's like Chekov said ... if you see one hanging on the wall in the first act, it has to go off before the play's over."

The instructor replied, "Are you talking about the Russian guy in Star Trek?"

After the small arms course, the code-talkers were taken by the agent back to the seminar classroom, where Professor Bloom was waiting to begin their evening review and practice code-talking exercise. Also waiting in the room, observing the study session as part of a tour of the intensive training facility, was Deputy CIA Director John Alexander Gordon and his administrative assistant, Anne Winchester.