News | July 27, 2016

The Washington Wong Building: A Legacy to Be Rememberd

In recognition of Mr. Washington Wong and his legacy to the National Security Agency (NSA), the NSA-Hawaii (NSAH) facility, also referred to as "the Tunnel," was dedicated as the Washington Wong Building on July 13, 2016. NSA Deputy Director, Mr. Richard Ledgett, and NSAH Commander, CAPT Cliff Bean, USN, presided over the ceremony.

Mr. Wong was a career NSA civilian language analyst and a national treasure.

 Washington Wong plaque Washington Wong plaque

Mr. Wong, who was born in Hawaii to parents of Chinese and Japanese descent, grew up speaking both Chinese and Japanese fluently. During the Korean War, Mr. Wong was drafted and served in the United States Army. Due to his excellent language skills, he was recruited specifically to work for the Army Security Agency's intelligence branch, NSA's predecessor. After the war, Mr. Wong joined NSA and served as a language expert specializing in the collection of information against China.

"We (NSAH senior leadership) found Mr. Wong's story and legacy to be the best fit for the building dedication," said CAPT Bean. "He was a true multiplier and made everyone around him better. He epitomized what it means to be an NSA language analyst and more than that, what it means to mentor the next generation."

Friends and coworkers fondly remember Mr. Wong, who preferred to be called "Wash," as a national treasure. Wash was a man of great ability in language, but was best known for his mentorship of linguists. Wash's training was in such high demand that many recall the sign-up sheet on his desk where co-workers who required help with translations of difficult language passages could ask for his assistance. He made time for every individual on the sign-up sheet. No matter the question, he treated everyone with kindness and respect. One coworker, a former mentee, recalled that Wash "… not only taught me the tradecraft to be an effective voice language analyst, but also how to be a decent human being."

Wash was a giving person. He was always ready to lend a helping hand and to offer calming guidance. He was always full of humor and stories, a gentleman who loved his family, his country and his work. It is appropriate that the NSAH facility, a hub for training, be named after such an inspirational example.

In his remarks, Mr. Ledgett noted that Washington Wong will not be forgotten. "His personal and professional legacy will have a lasting effect on NSA and its mission."

May his legacy indeed live on.

For more information about Washington Wong, please visit the Hall of Honor website to read his full bio.