G-B-U: God Bless You


OCN promotes good practices and values that are apart of a strong Orthodox culture. Living the Faith is a major portion of what we aspire to promote, encourage, and do. Examples such as this article about God within the confines of a war camp are mere reminders of the gifts that Faith brings. 


Col. Carlyle Harris’ warplane screamed above the jungles of North Vietnam. He was locked on his target, a large bridge along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was an essential part of Vietnamese supply roads. Col. Harris hit the target, but right after he released the bomb a gunner hit the engine with an antiaircraft round. Col. Harris was forced to eject from his plane and that day was the first, of the 2,871 days, that he spent as a P.O.W. in North Vietnam.

The real horror in war is that people have a tendency to lose the reality of respect for each other as humans created in the image and likeness of God. We will never know what tortures and painful experiences Col. Harris and others truly suffered in their time behind the bars of the North Vietnamese war prisons, but the message that Col. Harris was able to communicate transfigured the earthly pain.

It is said that Col. Harris is credited with putting the tap-code into use for prisoners throughout the North Vietnam prison system. “We helped each other, when someone was taken out and badly badly mistreated for days and finally came back to his cell he would be physically, mentally, and emotionally almost a basket case after his door was closed and the turn key left, the first thing he would hear was….” Col. Harris knocked a sequence of taps on coffee table with the knuckles of his fist. “that’s G-B-U. God Bless You (The Code).” The tortured soldier would take strength from the message, as he knew the others understood. Col. Harris learned that the water pipes carried the tap sound from a World War II story that he just happened to hear at the end of his military combat training.

Here at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology we often make van runs to the train, hospitals, BTI classes at Boston University, etc. One particular day I was driving one of the visiting Father Professors to the Back Bay Amtrak Station. We rode a little more smoothly this time, as I had been there once and did not need to roll down my window every couple minutes to ask for directions. In our peaceful conversation, I conveyed this particular story of “The Code” to Father and he told me, “You know I heard somewhere that the opposite of love isn’t hate, in fact it is isolation.” If God’s love is His Kingdom then isolation must be very close to hell.

God’s presence can be found in many places and we truly feel Him at times when we need Him most. It was during the seemingly countless years within the North Vietnamese war camps that American P.O.W.s heard His voice. It was a faint tapping sound on the prison water pipes, “G-B-U.”

To view the entire video, entitled “The Code,” click here.



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About author

Dean Franck

Dean Franck is a first year student in the Master's of Divinity Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.