Weeks after the start of the Korean War, the future country music superstar enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After proving adept at radio communications, Cash was assigned to a unit in Landsberg, West Germany, where he served as a high-speed Morse Code intercept operator. There he monitored transmissions from the Soviet Army, which was playing a covert role in Korea, and Cash claimed in his autobiography that he was the first American to intercept reports of the 1953 death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During his downtime from his highly classified work, Cash began to write songs, including “Folsom Prison Blues,” and practiced with a newly purchased guitar in a makeshift band of airmen dubbed “The Landsberg Barbarians.” After his promotion to staff sergeant and honorable discharge in 1954, Cash settled in Memphis and launched his musical career after signing with Sun Records in 1955.
We honor you, Johnny Cash.