Air Force pilot Captain Carlyle “Smitty” Harris was shot down over Vietnam on April 4, 1965 and taken to the infamous Hoa Lo prison–nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton.” For the next eight years, Smitty and hundreds of other American POWs–including John McCain and George “Bud” Day–suffered torture, solitary confinement, and unimaginable abuse.
It was there that Smitty covertly taught many other POWs the Tap Code–an old, long-unused method of communication from World War II. Using the code, they could softly tap messages of encouragement to lonely neighbors and pass along resistance policies from their leaders. The code quickly became a lifeline during their internment. It helped the prisoners boost morale, stay unified, communicate the chain of command, and prevail over a brutal enemy.
Meanwhile, back home in the United States, Harris’s wife, Louise, raised their three children alone, unsure of her husband’s fate for seven long years. One of the first POW wives of the Vietnam War, she became a role model for other military wives by advocating for herself and her children in her husband’s absence.
Told through both Smitty’s and Louise’s voices, Tap Code shares the riveting true story of:
- Ingenuity under pressure
- Strength and dignity in the face of a frightening enemy
- The hope, faith, and resolve necessary to endure even the darkest circumstances