Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spycraft and Strange Spy Gadgets, The Elderly Man Next Door

The old man who lives next door keeps strange hours and does not welcome visitors. The neighbor's boy was allowed in one time, but only because it was storming outside and the child was locked out of his house. No one else was at home to help the boy that day.

But other than one small child, no one else has ever set foot inside the old man's home.

Rumors swirl around him like falling leaves in the autumn. One tale bearer claims the hermit is all alone in the world. His family was killed in some tragic accident. Other gossipers weave gruesome tales of a serial killer who escaped from prison or was never brought to justice in the first place. Wild tales are concocted at dinner parties and spread around the table like jams and jellies.

Just the month before, the elderly gentleman bought a poodle at the mall and brought it home with him. Now he spends more time outside, walking his dog into the woods that border one side of his property.

Shortly after the dog moved in, and the old man began taking frequent walks, a strange car began prowling the streets at night.

The boy who spent an afternoon at the old man's house watches from his third-floor bedroom with fascination. The car comes late at night, headlights off, and parks in the dark. A bulky shape emerges, enters the woods and disappears from sight. Eventually, the mysterious visitor reemerges -- carrying a small package -- settles back into his car and slowly drives away into the night.

The boy keeps his observations to himself. He likes the old man with the houseful of computers, TV screens, and radio equipment. And he can keep a secret.

You have probably guessed by now that the old man is a spy, and the boy has witnessed something he was never meant to see.

Around 1970, as the conflict in Vietnam escalated, United States military intelligence (and no, that is not an oxymoron) developed a homing device camouflaged as dog or monkey droppings. It was actually a homing device officially known as a T-1151 radio transmitter, and unofficially it was known as a Doo radio transmitter.

This inconspicuous little spy gadget could send or receive radio messages, usually by Morse code. It was positioned throughout the jungles of Vietnam, relentlessly transmitting a radio signal that led aircraft to enemy ground sites for strikes or reconnaissance missions.

Because the device looked like -- well -- poop, it was usually left undisturbed. Therefore it could be planted well in advance of any mission.

It is still in use today, as our elderly neighbor could verify. If he were talking.

If you'd like to spend more time in the company of spies, let me recommend my novel, Sleeping With Skeletons. You can find out more information on that at my website. You might also like some of the additional posts that I've written below. Thanks!

Here's the link for my site:

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