In 1941, following the British Royal Navy, the U.S. adopted the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet in an attempt to standardize communications in each branch of its armed forces. Otherwise known as a “spelling alphabet,” the system replaces key letters and numbers with words that can be recognized regardless of noise, radio static, pronunciation difference, etc. Future poet Emmett Williams enrolled in the U.S. Army in 1943, and would have learned the newly-implemented system, known informally as “Able Baker,” after its first two letters, A = able and B = baker.
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