Roger That: Where did the legendary army call come from?

By THP Team


“Roger That! Willco”! One of the most famous army calls around the world, this command has now become synonymous with the word received. Since the day, the first flight took to the sky; communication with pilots was a major issue with the aviation industry. Initially, flares, placards, and hand signs were common while signaling pilots on what to do and where to land. As technology advanced and planes started rising higher and higher into the atmosphere, ground signals were no longer useful. This was the time the telegraph and the Morse code became popular. So how exactly did the world Roger take root in aviation communication around the world?

Hand signals were common in the earlier days

San Diego Air & Space Museum

One of the shortest signals in communications was the letter R. Rampant usage of the letter in major communications led to different words being coined around the letter. When the Morse code was replaced with Radio communication, the letter R was replaced with Roger. Roger was the phonetic word related to the sound of R. A big question here is why wasn’t the word received used instead?

Wright Bros. first flight, 1903 (Lynn Brooks)


Well as you know, not all pilots around the world spoke English and hence it was easier for the pilots to use the word Roger instead. In 1957 the phonetic letter for R was replaced with the word Romeo. But the frequent usage of Roger affixed its position in military communication around the world. Willco in the command is just short for Will Comply.

Morse code was popular in the days of the World War


So the next time you hear the word “Roger That!” you very well know where it came from.

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