July 12, 2017 —
The cryptologic mission can be a dangerous one. Around the globe, men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces place themselves in harm's way to gather adversaries' communications and to secure their own information. Sometimes, they pay the ultimate sacrifice. The National Cryptologic Museum's two newest exhibits, "Service & Sacrifice" and "Real Time Regional Gateway," include stories of some of the ultimate sacrifices made on the land, in the sea, and in the air by cryptologists in uniform, while also presenting actions the National Security Agency (NSA) has taken to protect the lives of front-line troops.
Service & Sacrifice
Stories in "Service & Sacrifice" include the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in the Mediterranean Sea, the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo in the Sea of Japan, and the shoot-down of the U.S. Air Force C-130 reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet Armenia. Each of these heart-wrenching stories give witness to the dangers cryptologists face to keep one step ahead of the enemy.
Highlighted in each section of the Land, Sea, and Air displays, are stories of men and women who gave their lives serving in silence for our nation and her allies. For example, on December 22, 1961, Army Spec. James "Tom" Davis of the 3rd Radio Research Unit received orders to lead a Vietnamese team 12 miles from base in an attempt to locate a Viet Cong guerilla force. Ten miles outside the base, the truck carrying the team hit a land mine and was forced off the road. They immediately came under attack, and Davis and nine members of the team were lost to enemy fire. He was the first American cryptologist to die in the Vietnam War.
In another example, Army Sgt. Amanda Pinson, assigned to the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. Trained in electronic intelligence, her work involved the collection and analysis of the enemy's signals. By listening to "noise in the static" an analyst like Sgt. Pinson could determine vital information about the enemy's capabilities. But this work frequently means having to be in harm's way. Sgt. Pinson was killed at the age of 21 in a mortar attack on March 16, 2006.
On the sea, sons and daughters of our nation have given their lives while performing their cryptologic duties in the Navy and Coast Guard. Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Daugherty, a Cryptologic Technician assigned to Navy Special Warfare (NSW) Group Two, was stationed outside Baghdad, Iraq, in 2006. Petty Officer Daugherty worked side-by-side with the SEAL team providing critical intelligence support by locating insurgent cell phone signals and scanning for enemy frequencies.
On July 6, 2007, Petty Officer Daugherty and the SEAL team were on a mission near Baghdad in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While supporting this mission, their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and Daugherty and two members of the SEAL team were killed. But, the work they had accomplished earlier played a critical role in thwarting a group of insurgents who were trying to kill U.S. and Coalition forces.
The cryptologic mission in the air has too frequently proved perilous - and fatal. In 1953, the U.S. Air Force's 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron was based in Yokota, Japan. Crews flew operational missions over the Sea of Japan in search of information on the Soviet threat. Cryptologists assigned to the newly formed Air Force Security Service (AFSS) complemented the basic crew of these reconnaissance flights monitoring Soviet voice communications.
In July 1953, Staff Sgt. Donald G. Hill and Airman 2nd Class Earl W. Radlein of the 1st Radio Squadron Mobile were preparing to embark on a reconnaissance mission with the 91st. Both men, called "back enders" by other crewmembers, served as the cryptologic component. Forty miles off the coast of the Soviet port city of Vladivostok, despite being in international airspace, the plane came under attack by Soviet MiG fighter jets. Within minutes, the aircraft sustained heavy damage, causing the aircraft to crash violently into the Sea of Japan. Although 16 of the 17 crewmembers successfully exited the plane, only the co-pilot survived the attack. Hill and Radlein became the first members of the AFSS to lose their lives performing their cryptologic mission.
The "Service & Sacrifice" exhibit serves as a small testimony to depict the people who serve our nation in silent service and some significant events in which they have been involved. Photos and artifacts from the U.S.S. Liberty, U.S.S. Pueblo, and shoot-down of the U.S. Air Force C-130 help visitors connect with the events included and the people involved.
Real Time Regional Gateway
The "Real Time Regional Gateway" (RT-RG) display portrays the U.S. response to the increased threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq in the first few years of the war in Iraq and later extended to Afghanistan and other conflict zones around the world. To deal with this critical threat, the National Security Agency created this program that was deployed in 2007 to provide real-time intelligence to the war fighter and defeat Al-Qaeda's bomb making capabilities.
The display explains the basics to how RT-RG works. RT-RG takes traditional streams of signals intelligence and combines it with information gathered from other sources, such as raids, satellite images, and on-the-ground reports related to enemy movements and operations. This reduces the lengthy time required to provide this information to the war fighter from days and weeks to only hours or even minutes. In essence, RT-RG introduced a new approach to how signals intelligence is provided to the tactical war fighter.
The RTRG display includes photos of the effects of IEDs in Iraq to give visitors an idea of the threat our ground forces face and the importance of a program like RT-RG, which is credited with helping take more than 4,000 insurgents off the battlefield - a good story for visitors to see how NSA supports the war fighter and our allies.