NSA Historical Figures

African Americans in Cryptologic History

The experience of African Americans at NSA and its predecessor organization mirrors the African American experience in the United States and the Federal Government in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The first African American hired by the Army Security Agency, and who later made the transition to the Armed Forces Security Agency, worked first in a segregated office. Senior supervisors were white and many of the duties were menial ones not wanted by whites.

In the 1950s, African Americans began to move into the mainstream workforce. The segregated office was abolished and more African Americans received supervisory positions.

Many African Americans advanced to NSA's senior ranks. Many of those who began their careers in the segregated work environment finished at the top of their profession.

For many years it was believed that African Americans had first been hired to work in cryptology only after World War II. Recent research has revealed, however, that the first large-scale hiring program for African Americans began in 1944. By the end of the war, a segregated office of thirty African Americans was engaged in researching messages encrypted in unknown systems, analyzing them, and producing translations.

Read more about our Invisible Cryptologists.

Women in American Cryptology

 

Although the number of women involved in cryptology has always been lower than the number of men, they have not been completely absent from the field either. Women have always been involved in America's cryptologic history. Some have reached the higher ranks of management and a few have been considered the expert in their field.

Cryptologic pioneers, such as Elizebeth Friedman and Agnes Driscoll, are well known to those who study cryptology. Were it not for their early involvement, the women of today may not have been able to reach their current numbers or status. But not every woman, or their organizations, has made it into the history books. Thousands of lesser-known women cryptologists have also played a role in creating the legacy women enjoy today. Their achievements, and in some cases their escapades, furthered the progress of women in cryptology. Women's involvement was sometimes sporadic, but significant.

The Women in Cryptologic History exhibit at the National Cryptologic Museum highlights the contributions of twenty-four women who have helped create cryptologic history. The display begins with a member of the Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution who used her laundry as a secret code. Women spies from the Civil War also used codes and ciphers to aid those fighting for the causes they believed in. But it wasn't until the twentieth century that women began to work full-time in cryptology. During WWI several women considered to be cryptologic pioneers began their careers, as did some women few people today would know. During WWII thousands of women joined the military or worked as civilians for the military as cryptanalysts, intercept operators, technicians, machinists and every other position available in cryptology. Many of those women chose to stay in the field after the war, providing breakthroughs and contributions throughout the Cold War. Eventually, women rose to the highest ranks of management and today continue to support, develop, and build the cryptologic legacy of tomorrow.

Learn more about how women supported cryptologic efforts in World War II.

Cryptologic Hall of Honor

 

The Cryptologic Hall of Honor was created in 1999 to pay special tribute to the pioneers and heroes who rendered distinguished service to American cryptology.

The standards are high for induction into this great hall. The individuals honored were innovators over their entire careers or made major contributions to the structure and processes of American cryptology. The men and women who have been inducted to the Cryptologic Hall of Honor are all greats in the once silent world of cryptology.

In the early days of America's cryptologic effort, many of the "giants" did both Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance. They made important contributions to both offensive and defensive cryptology. As such, they were among the first inducted into the Cryptologic Hall of Honor.

Cryptologic Hall of Honor Nomination Process

The Cryptologic Hall of Honor is an important part of the NSA/CSS heritage program and pays tribute to those who made extraordinarily important contributions to America’s national security through cryptology, or who had a lifetime of high achievement in the cryptologic field. The nomination process is undertaken by a Panel supported by the Center for Cryptologic History (CCH) and adheres to professional historical standards for research, analysis, and objectivity.

The call for nominations for the Cryptologic Hall of Honor is issued annually, usually in February. However, they may be submitted at any time; the formal call is merely a reminder that the deadline for the current cycle is approaching. Nominations received after the deadline (usually in March) will be considered for the following year. Note: It is imperative that nominations adhere to the prescribed format and word count restrictions. Failure to do so requires reformatting and editing by CCH staff and may result in delayed consideration of a nominee and/or improper consideration of career accomplishments.

  • The criterion for selection is high achievement using cryptology to preserve the security of the United States and the American people.
  • This achievement could be in one major event or over a career.
  • “Cryptology,” for the purposes of these nominations, is defined as any direct or enabling function that supports NSA mission success.
  • Nominations may be for individuals or groups.
  • While a majority of nominations have been U.S. government employees or members of the armed forces, any individual may be nominated and selected, including foreign partners, contractors or persons from academia, e.g.
  • Nominees need not be deceased to be submitted, however, they must have departed full-time cryptologic service at least 10 years prior to their nomination.
  • Nominations, once formally submitted, will remain active for ten years. If new information becomes available after that time, nominations can be re-submitted to the Sub-Panel.

The Panel Executive Secretary will compile the final selections into a staffing package and forward to the Director NSA for final approval. Upon the Director NSA’s approval, Strategic Communications will schedule a ceremony to induct the new Cryptologic Hall of Honor members in the Canine Suites (usually in October or November).

Cryptologic Hall of Honor Nomination Form


 

Cryptologic Hall of Honor Inductees


Please select the year of the inductee on the left
Portrait of LTG Ralph J. Canine, USA
LTG Ralph J. Canine, USA
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Solomon Kullback
Dr. Solomon Kullback
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Abraham Sinkov
Dr. Abraham Sinkov
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Frank B. Rowlett
Frank B. Rowlett
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of CAPT Laurance Safford, USN
CAPT Laurance Safford, USN
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Herbert O. Yardley
Herbert O. Yardley
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Elizebeth Smith Friedman
Elizebeth S. Friedman
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of William F. Friedman
William F. Friedman
1999 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Agnes Meyer Driscoll
Agnes Meyer Driscoll
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort, USN
CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort, USN
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Louis W. Tordella
Dr. Louis W. Tordella
2000 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Maj Gen John E. Morrison, Jr., USAF
Maj Gen John E. Morrison, Jr., USAF
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Sydney Jaffe
Dr. Sydney Jaffe
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Mahlon E. Doyle
Mahlon E. Doyle
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Howard C. Barlow
Howard C. Barlow
2001 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Julia Ward
Dr. Julia Ward
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Charles C. Tevis
Charles C. Tevis
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Mitford M. Mathews
Mitford M. Mathews
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Richard A. Leibler
Dr. Richard A. Leibler
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Norman Wild
Norman Wild
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of CAPT Thomas H. Dyer, USN
CAPT Thomas H. Dyer, USN
2002 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Howard E. Rosenblum
Howard E. Rosenblum
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Juanita Moody
Juanita Moody
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Lowell K. Frazer
Dr. Lowell K. Frazer
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Lambros D. Callimahos
Lambros D. Callimahos
2003 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Brigadier John Tiltman
Brigadier John Tiltman
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Meredith Gardner
Meredith Gardner
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of James R. Chiles
James R. Chiles
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dorothy Blum
Dorothy T. Blum
2004 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Rear Admiral Joseph N. Wenger, USN
Rear Admiral Joseph N. Wenger, USN
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Arthur Salemme
Arthur Salemme
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Francis Raven
Francis Raven
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. William Blankinship
Dr. William Blankinship
2005 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Thomas E. Tremain
Thomas E. Tremain
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of James Pryde
James W. Pryde
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Cecil J. Phillips
Cecil J. Phillips
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Edward A. Everett
Edward A. Everett
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Brigadier General Bernard Ardisana, USAF
Brigadier General Bernard Ardisana, USAF
2006 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Milton Zaslow
Milton Zaslow
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Samuel S. Snyder
Samuel S. Snyder
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dr. Robert J. Hermann
Dr. Robert J. Hermann
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of RADM Donald M. Showers, USN (Ret)
Jacob Gurin
2007 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of RADM Donald M. Showers, USN (Ret)
RADM Donald M. Showers, USN (Ret)
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Oliver R. Kirby
Oliver R. Kirby
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of General Alfred M. Gray, USMC
General Alfred M. Gray, USMC
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Charles L. Gandy
Charles L. Gandy
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Benson K. Buffham
Benson K. Buffham
2008 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Minnie McNeal Kenny
Minnie McNeal Kenny
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Arthur J. Levenson
Arthur J. Levenson
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Maj Gen Doyle E. Larson, USAF
Maj Gen Doyle E. Larson, USAF
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Richard A. Day, Jr.
Richard A. Day, Jr.
2009 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Leo Rosen
Leo Rosen
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein
Genevieve Grotjan Feinstein
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of David Boak
David Boak
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Joseph Amato
Joseph Amato
2010 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Laura Holmes
Laura Holmes
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Colonel Parker Hitt
Colonel Parker Hitt
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Joseph Desch
Joseph Desch
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of William Coffee
William Coffee
2011 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Juliana Mickwitz
Juliana Mickwitz
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Ronald Hunt
Ronald Hunt
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Robert Drake
Robert Drake
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Ann Caracristi
Ann Caracristi
2012 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Native American Code Talkers
Native American Code Talkers
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Washington Wong
Washington Wong
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Richard Proto
Richard Proto
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Vera Ruth Filby
Vera Ruth Filby
2013 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Alan Turing
Alan Turing
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Marian Rejewski
Marian Rejewski
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Captain Howard Ehret
Captain Howard Ehret
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Walter Deeley
Walter Deeley
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Frank Austin
Frank Austin
2014 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Virginia Jenkins Riley
Virginia Jenkins Riley
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Robert J. "Mac" McNelis
Robert J. "Mac" McNelis
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of William O. Marks
William O. Marks
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Charles R. (Dick) Lord
Charles R. (Dick) Lord
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Ralph W. Adams, Jr.
Ralph W. Adams, Jr.
2015 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Command Sergeant Major Odell Williams, USA
Command Sergeant Major Odell Williams, USA
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Captain Leonard T. Jones, USCG
Captain Leonard T. Jones, USCG
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Gerald Hale
Gerald Hale
2016 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Floyd L. Weakley
Floyd L. Weakley
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of ADM Bobby R. Inman, USN
ADM Bobby R. Inman, USN
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Col Frank E. Herrelko, USAF
Col Frank E. Herrelko, USAF
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Dennis M. Chiari
Dennis M. Chiari
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Portrait of Mary H. "Polly" Budenbach
Mary H. "Polly" Budenbach
2017 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Richard L. “Dick” Bernard
Richard L. “Dick” Bernard
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Seymour R. Cray
Seymour R. Cray
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Whitney E. Reed
Whitney E. Reed
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Michael J. Jacobs
Michael J. Jacobs
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Hilda Faust Mathieu
Hilda Faust Mathieu
2018 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Edward M. Drake, Director of Canada's first permanent cryptologic agency.
Edward M. Drake
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Chief Radioman Harry Kidder, USN – In the 1920s, he recognized the importance of intelligence about Japan and conducted intercept as a voluntary extra duty.
Chief Harry Kidder, USN
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Courtesy of the Lasswell Family
Col Alva Bryan Lasswell, USMC
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Lt. Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF – Director, NSA / Chief, CSS from 1996 to 1999
Lt. Gen. Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF
2019 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Lester K. Myers
Lester K. Myers
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. Whitfield Diffie
Dr. Whitfield Diffie
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Barbara A. McNamara
Barbara A. McNamara
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Dr. David Kahn
Dr. David Kahn
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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George R. Cotter
George R. Cotter
2020 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Jack Mortick
Jack C. Mortick
2021 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Joseph E. Gilligan
Joseph E. Gilligan, Jr.
2021 Hall of Honor Inductee
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Government Communications Headquarters UK GCHQ logo
Clifford Cocks, James Ellis, and Malcolm Williamson
2021 Hall of Honor Inductees
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