Image: Sergeant SamWhy I wanted to join the military…

I was born in a city near the Great Rocky Mountains. I soared through school by excelling in physical fitness, math, science, and foreign language (especially Spanish, because it is my first language); however, as a young spirit I wanted more out of life. I enlisted in the military as soon as I received my high school diploma and the years that followed were full of adventure. It was through the military that I grew strong and learned about duty, honor, and integrity.

My military background…

By joining the military, I was able to travel around the world. I started out by attending basic training - also called “boot camp”- where I made many new friends from all over the U.S. After graduation, some of my friends went to cryptologic intelligence jobs like me. Some studied intelligence analysis, while others studied signals analysis. I was selected to go to foreign language school and learn Chinese. After language school I went to learn about intelligence analysis and signals collection. This is where I learned the skills that I would use at NSA/CSS.

My first several assignments took me to Hawaii, Korea, and Japan. In the years I was there, I learned a lot about Asian customs and how they are different from ours. I loved the exotic foods and the friendly people I met. My next assignment took me to Ft. Meade, Maryland, home of NSA/CSS. I volunteered for an internship program and studied many different aspects of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), including codes and ciphers. I was assigned to Germany and had several temporary assignments to Saudi Arabia and Qatar where I picked up some Arabic and learned some of the customs. With my strong math, foreign language and analytical skills, I am really good at making and breaking codes. I’m back at NSA/CSS now and teach cryptologic analysis and math at NSA’s National Cryptologic School.

How I met the CryptoKids…

One of my duties at NSA/CSS is to visit local schools and teach Cryptology classes to interested students. During one particular visit, I was teaching a class of math students about the relationship between math and cryptography when I saw Crypto Cat pass a note to Decipher Dog. After taking the note from her, I was surprised to find that it contained an encrypted message. It was a very difficult pattern to break even with my extensive training from NSA/CSS and I was proud of them for coming up with something so clever. After I talked with them about their code making and breaking skills (and about not passing notes in class), I asked if they would be interested in entering a cryptography competition. They did rather well for their first attempt and decided to establish a crypto club with some of their friends. They called themselves the CRYPTOKIDS and asked if I would be their advisor. I proudly accepted and together we learn new and exciting ways to make and break codes.