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NSA names road in honor of former Executive Director Ralph W. Adams Jr.

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In recognition of the cryptologic giants who paved the way before us, the National Security Agency (NSA) is proud to honor one of those trailblazing pioneers by naming a road at NSA’s campus at Fort Meade after the late Ralph W. Adams Jr.

U.S. Cyber Command Commander and National Security Agency Director General Paul M. Nakasone announced last month that Mr. Adams, NSA’s first African American Executive Director (1995-96), would be recognized by having Road A named in his honor.

Gen. Nakasone, a large contingent of NSA officials, and Mr. Adams’ family including his widow, Helen were present at the unveiling ceremony of Adams Road on Wednesday, 26 August. Former Executive Director Harry Coker was also present.

“I’m happy to be here with all of you to honor the late Ralph W. Adams Jr. and his contributions not only to the National Security Agency – but our nation’s security,” Gen. Nakasone said during the ceremony.

Deputy Director, Workforce Support Activities John Taflan opened by explaining this endeavor has been two years in the making after former NSA Director Michael Rogers attended Mr. Adams’ memorial service and was impressed with Mr. Adams' contribution to the Agency.

“Seeing so many faces today is a true testament to how much Ralph was respected and admired at our Agency,” said Gen. Nakasone.

Gen. Nakasone also read a letter from former NSA Director Bill Studeman, who worked with Mr. Adams from 1988-92.

 “Ralph… stands out from amongst the many amazing seniors at NSA as a proud, honorable, and thoughtful man. He probably would think it an irony to have a road named after him, but… he would likely also take delight in the knowledge he will be transporting those tens of thousands of vital national security men and women to and from work every day.”

Mr. Adams joined NSA in 1965 as a civilian and advanced the Agency’s engagement with congressional overseers, set the course for Agency plans and policies, and directed overseas cryptologic liaison activities over 31 years in many leadership positions. He was notably a superb Vietnamese language analyst and mentor of linguists.

Recognized for his leadership abilities with the Exceptional Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, Mr. Adams finished his career as the second highest-ranking civilian at NSA, the Executive Director. He was also presented with the highest Intelligence Community award for distinguished and meritorious service – the National Intelligence Distinguished Service medal – upon his retirement in 1996.

Mr. Adams encouraged risk-taking as an important element to personal growth, self-development, and actualizing potential. A tireless advocate for diversity, he was one of the original program managers for the Stokes Educational Scholarships designed to facilitate the recruitment of individuals, particularly minority high school students.

“His efforts blazed a trail for others to follow,” said Gen. Nakasone.

He was inducted in the NSA Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 2015 and passed away two years later.

Two other roads on East Campus are named for NSA Cryptologic Hall of Honor inductees: Minnie Kenney Road and William Coffey Road.

NSA Chief of Staff Earnest Green closed by saying Mr. Adams “truly embodied the Agency’s ideals to defend our nation and secure the future.”

NSA is proud to pay tribute to his lasting impact by changing the name of Road A to Ralph W. Adams Jr. Road in his honor.