The Remarkable Life of "Tex" Biard, North Dallas High Grad and WWII Codebreaker

There is one rather remarkable item in this morning's Metro section: Among the paid-for obituaries is a notice that retired U.S. Navy Captain Forrest R. Biard died Tuesday at the age of 96. A Bonham native and North Dallas High School grad in 1930 (he is, in fact, a recipient of its Distinguished Alumni Award), Biard left the U.S. Naval Academy in 1934, graduating 11th in his class, and landed at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo -- where, according to his family, he studied "Japanese language, history, and culture from September 1939 to September 1941," at which point, says the obit, "then-Lt. Cdr. Biard secured p.assage out of Japan for ten expert Navy linguists weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor." He then sent to Station HYPO, the unit charged with breaking Japanese code. Biard, known as "Tex," was working in the basement of the Old Administration Building at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In a 2002 speech about his experiences as a codebreaker, Biard, then 90 and living in Highland Park, spoke at great length about why his unit "detected absolutely no warning of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor"; he also discussed his role in breaking the code that led to the Allies discovery of a pending attack on June 1942. Which is but one highlight among many, including his tenure working for Gen. Douglas MacArthur's intelligence center in Brisbane (mentioned in the book Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan) and his post-war decision to pursue his master's degree in physics at Ohio State, which landed him the job as operations officer for the first hydrogen bomb test in 1952. According to the obit, visitation takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home and Cemetery; he will then be buried, at later day, at the Arlington National Cemetery.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky