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Press Release | May 26, 2015

NSA/CSS Adds Two Heroes to Its Cryptologic Memorial Wall


May 26, Fort Meade, MD -Today, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service, paid special tribute to fallen soldiers Spc. Christopher A. Landis and Spc. John A. Pelham at a memorial ceremony held at the agency. These service members gave their lives, "serving in silence," in the line of duty. The service was attended by family, friends, and distinguished guests.

Spc. Landis, from the city of Independence in northern Kentucky, was assigned to the U.S. Army, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). In late 2013, he deployed with his group to Afghanistan, where he consistently worked to collect and analyze enemy communications. On Feb. 10, 2014, Spc. Landis was operating on the harsh battlefields of Kapisa Province when his unit came under heavy fire. During the attack, Spc. Landis was hit and severely injured by a rocket propelled grenade. He survived the assault, but ultimately succumbed to his wounds later that day at Bagram Airbase.

Spc. Pelham, born into a military family, was assigned to the U.S. Army, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). In pursuit of fulfilling the U.S. Special Forces motto "Free the Oppressed," Spc. Pelham and his unit were deployed to Afghanistan, where he worked as a signals intelligence analyst. On Feb. 12, 2014, while on patrol in Kapisa Province, Spc. Pelham's squad came under fire from gunmen wearing Afghan Security Force uniforms. During the firefight, all four assailants were killed, however, Spc. Pelham and a fellow soldier fell to enemy fire.

The ceremony included a traditional wreath laying and the unveiling of both names on the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall. The wall, dedicated in 1996, now lists the names of 176 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and civilian cryptologists who have made the ultimate sacrifice, serving in silence, in the performance of their duties since 1950.

Additional information on the Memorial Wall and a special historical monograph highlighting Landis' and Pelham's lives, service, and sacrifice can be viewed on the NSA/CSS website at /about/cryptologic-heritage/cryptologic-memorial/.

NOTE: Media outlets interested in receiving photographs from the ceremony or additional information should contact the NSA Public and Media Affairs Office via phone at 301-688-6524 or via email at