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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. 

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Lester K. Myers, 2020 Hall of Honor inductee
Lester K. Myers
By | Dec. 15, 2020
About Lester K. Myers, former NSA Senior Language Analyst, mentor, and 2020 Hall of Honor inductee.

Dr. Whitfield Diffie, 2020 Hall of Honor inductee
Dr. Whitfield Diffie
By | Dec. 15, 2020
About Dr. Whitfield Diffie, computer security pioneer and 2020 Hall of Honor inductee.

Barbara A. McNamara, 2020 Hall of Honor inductee
Barbara A. McNamara
By | Dec. 15, 2020
About Barbara A. McNamara, former NSA Executive Assistant to the Director, former NSA representative to the Department of Defense, former Deputy Director NSA, and 2020 Hall of Honor inductee.

Dr. David Kahn, 2020 Hall of Honor inductee
Dr. David Kahn
By | Dec. 15, 2020
About Dr. David Kahn, Journalist, Author, former NSA Scholar-in-Residence, and 2020 Hall of Honor inductee.

George R. Cotter 2020 Hall of Honor inductee
George R. Cotter
By | Dec. 15, 2020
About George R. Cotter, former NSA Chief of Staff, NSA Chief Scientist, and 2020 Hall of Honor inductee.

Mitford M. Mathews

2002 Hall of Honor Inductee

In May 1966, Mitford M. Mathews was awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Award, the highest honor that can be awarded a civilian employee by the Department of Defense. The award citation read, "Throughout his entire career Mr. Mathews … demonstrated a distinct professionalism and unique capability that had far-reaching effects." The citation succinctly summarizes the brilliant twenty-three-year cryptologic career of a man who served in many vital positions and was well known for his achievement and dedication.

"Mit" Mathews was born on 16 March 1922 in Alabama. He received a bachelor's degree with honors in mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1943. Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army, where he was assigned to the Research and Development (R&D) Division from 1944 to 1946. His far-reaching engineering and scientific contributions won him the Legion of Merit.

Upon his release from the military, Mathews joined the U.S. Army Security Agency as a civilian engineer, making the transition to Armed Forces Security Agency and National Security Agency. He held a series of management positions in the R&D organizations, including chief of Communications Security (COMSEC) R&D. From 1962 until his death in 1971, Mr. Mathews was assistant director for research and development.

According to his peers, Mathews turned NSA's R&D group into a premier technological organization with his management acumen and technical leadership skills. He was an active participant in all phases of research and engineering at the Agency and made major contributions within the cryptologic community in both signals intelligence and communications security. He was a "hands-on executive" whose technical advice on topics related to communications and computer science was sought by his subordinates, peers, and superiors within the intelligence community, as well as in academia and private industry. Mathews led the transition from World War II era rotor-based equipment to high-tech electronic devices and ciphony equipment. His efforts transformed the fundamental processing of radar signals from analog to digital. Extremely gifted at translating technical jargon to standard English, he was frequently sent to testify before congressional committees on both cryptanalysis and information assurance.

In 1967, Mathews received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award, NSA's highest civilian award. He passed away suddenly on 19 January 1971.