[ISN] Serving in Silence: NSA's Fallen Comrades

From: William Knowles (wkat_private)
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 18:53:30 PDT

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    By Vernon Loeb
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, May 28, 2001; Page A21 
    Sixteen days before the Korean War ended in July 1953, Army Pvt. Jay
    Stoner died from a shrapnel wound after crawling onto a battlefield
    amid heavy shelling to fix a communications line.
    For Stoner, a cryptologic technician with the 304th Communications
    Group, fixing the line meant saving lives. It connected front-line
    intercept stations near Chinese positions at Kumsong to American field
    commanders who needed tactical intelligence on when and where the
    enemy was advancing.
    Stoner's act of heroism made him the first employee of the National
    Security Agency to die in the line of duty. His name comes first on a
    polished granite memorial wall at NSA headquarters inscribed with the
    words, "They Served In Silence."
    Until now, the secretive agency has remained silent about how they
    died. But that changed at a Memorial Day service last week, when
    Stoner became the first NSA casualty whose story was told publicly by
    the agency.
    "Memorial Day holds a special meaning for the cryptologic community,"
    said Maj. Gen. Tiiu Kera, head of NSA's uniformed component, who
    presented plaques and keepsakes to Stoner's family in a ceremony at
    Fort Meade.
    The CIA's Wall of Honor remains the best known memorial to fallen
    intelligence personnel, containing 77 stars -- one for each agency
    employee killed in the line of duty. The NSA's memorial wall, by
    contrast, contains 152 names, a testament to the dangers of gathering
    electronic intelligence from reconnaissance aircraft, spy ships and
    battlefield listening posts.
    The biggest single tragedy reflected on the wall was Israel's 1967
    attack on the USS Liberty, a naval intelligence ship gathering
    intercepts on the Arab-Israeli war: Thirty-four American sailors died.
    Although Israel has said that its attacking planes and ships did not
    know the Liberty was American, James Bamford writes in a new book on
    the NSA, "Body of Secrets," that a Navy spy plane flying overhead at
    the time of the attack intercepted Israeli pilots talking about how
    the ship was flying an American flag.
    All but one of the NSA's fallen are named on the wall -- and all but
    two are military personnel. One of the civilians, Allen M. Blue, died
    aboard the Liberty. The other is the wall's only anonymous hero,
    "identity withheld" chiseled in the granite.
    Fifteen names down from Stoner is the name of Spec. 4 James T. Davis,
    a cryptologic technician from Livingston, Tenn. He was the first
    American killed in Vietnam when a truck in which he was riding was
    ambushed Dec. 21, 1961.
    Almost a decade earlier, Stoner went off to Korea with a "passion" for
    communications, according to the NSA's official narrative. He had, by
    then, showed an aptitude for NSA work -- "tapping into the family
    phone line and running a block-long telephone line to a neighbor's
    house down the street."
    He later used his skills on the battlefield, served in silence and
    died for his country.
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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