Veteran: The work of the Army Security Agency was secret, but the service should be commemorated

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The National Army Security Agency Association is sponsoring an effort to have an Army Security Agency memorial placed in Arlington National Cemetery. (Courtesy of Cecil Carver)

The National Army Security Agency Association is sponsoring an effort to have an Army Security Agency memorial placed in Arlington National Cemetery.

The National Army Security Agency Association is sponsoring an effort to have an Army Security Agency memorial placed in Arlington National Cemetery. (Courtesy of Cecil Carver)

The National Army Security Agency Association is sponsoring an effort to have an Army Security Agency memorial placed in Arlington National Cemetery.

The National Army Security Agency Association is sponsoring an effort to have an Army Security Agency memorial placed in Arlington National Cemetery. (Courtesy of Cecil Carver)

The headquarters building of the Turkish American Logistics Group - Detachment 4 in Sinop, Turkey.

The headquarters building of the Turkish American Logistics Group – Detachment 4 in Sinop, Turkey. (The American army)

The Army Security Agency was established on September 15, 1945.

The Army Security Agency was established on September 15, 1945. (US Army)

Interior of Field Station Kagnew in Asmara, Eritrea, 1958

Interior of Kagnew Field Station in Asmara, Eritrea, 1958 (US Army)

ARLINGTON, Virginia – The work of intelligence services is by nature secret, but veterans of the Army Security Agency – who served in World War II during the Cold War – are hoping to find some recognition for their service to their country in the form of a monument.

Cecil Carver, a Vietnam War-era ASA veteran, said the idea started when he visited Arlington National Cemetery a few years ago and saw the memorial of the 101st Airborne Division.

“I went to see him and looked at him,” he said of the monument. “I read about the awards.”

The sacrifice of these soldiers is widely known, but the work of ASA veterans, Carver said, is almost invisible.

He wants to share the stories of his fellow veterans. His mission is to install a monument in Arlington, like the one he saw that day more than three years ago.

Carver has learned, however, it is not an easy process.

In April, a new stone monument was dedicated in Arlington. It pays tribute to the nearly 5,000 American helicopter pilots and crew members who died during the Vietnam War. And it almost took an act of Congress to get it approved.

Army officials agreed to the association’s first request for a memorial tree, which was dedicated on August 28, 2015. The tree was planted within eight feet of a sidewalk along Memorial Drive, a space considered unusable for burials.

The leaders of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association then asked to place a granite monument, at the association’s expense, on the same site. Their request was denied and the project was blocked.

The association went to Congress. Two years later, a bill passed unanimously in the House, but before going to the Senate for consideration, military and legislative officials came to an agreement.

“Without congressional approval, I don’t think this would have ever happened,” Bill “Moon” Mullen told Pocono Record in Pennsylvania.

“If we were just a tree with a marker at ground level, you wouldn’t even stop to notice it,” he told the newspaper. “These 5,000 deserve to be thanked for their sacrifice. It will remind people, perhaps for generations, that they were the ones who fought the “helicopter wars”.

Carver’s reasons for a monument are similar. He doesn’t want the veterans of the Army Security Agency to be forgotten.

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Cecil Carver celebrated his 19th birthday in Vietnam. He spent four years in the military working with the ASA. While on duty, he knew what he was working on, but not the agency’s larger role in the war.

Electromagnetic intelligence has been part of the US military’s “combat toolbox” since World War I, according to the military. In 1949, cryptological activities were centralized within the Security Agency of the Armed Forces. In 1952, the National Civil Security Agency, under the Ministry of Defense, replaced the Armed Forces Security Agency to extend its field of action from strictly military security to national security.

ASA persevered, with assets in fixed field stations around the world. While the agency lost most of its original mission and most of its civilian staff to the NSA, the military article explained, the agency was restructured to meet specific needs. of the Army. He developed smaller, mobile field units to support tactical commanders and became essential during the Korean War.

In the early 1960s, ASA personnel were among the first in South Vietnam, providing support to the US Military Assistance Group and helping to train the South Vietnamese Army, according to the National Security Agency. .

The agency’s presence has grown with the introduction of large US ground combat elements into South Vietnam, according to the NSA story. The ASA grew and became a major army command in 1964.

Later, the massive withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam led to a complete reorganization of the military’s intelligence services. The ASA was eventually disbanded and on January 1, 1977, it was redesigned by the US Army Intelligence and Security Command.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary since the US Army Security Agency lowered its flag,” Carver wrote to North Carolina officials last year. “Time is running out for the ASA to be recognized for the essential intelligence role it has played in supporting the United States military and our nation for over 30 years.”

After reading this monument on 101st Airborne in Arlington, Carver got to work, seeking out other veterans, raising funds and collecting letters of support from veterans, foreign embassies and members of Congress. .

For some, the letter he received on November 9, 2017 would have ended all hope.

“As stewards of Arlington National Cemetery, the military takes all requests for monuments very seriously,” read the letter from Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the Army’s National Military Cemeteries. “My staff, the Arlington National Cemetery Advisory Committee, and the Secretary of the Army have given your request a careful and deliberate review. On October 20, 2017, the Secretary of the Army disapproved of the request.

“I regret that the decision was not more favorable.”

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Carver still hopes to have an ASA monument installed in Arlington.

It is important that it be placed in a place where veterans will certainly see it, he said.

Honor flights, which previously aimed to take WWII veterans to Washington, now take Korean and Vietnamese veterans there. As an example, Carver said that Arlington was the only place he wanted to visit when he came to the city, so a monument elsewhere, like the National Museum of the United States Army under construction in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, would not properly honor its fellow veterans, as it could go largely unnoticed.

Carver has a climb.

At the end of 2017, Arlington National Cemetery had received 11 requests for monuments, initiated by a patron. But none of those requests was a full proposal as defined in US law, according to Kerry Meeker. Only one monument request was made to the Secretary of the Army in 2017, the cemetery spokeswoman said, and it was refused.

In 25 years, five major commemorative works have been placed in Arlington. According to Meeker, three of them were through congressional action and two of those three – the Pentagon group’s funeral marker and the Space Shuttle Columbia – remain lost in the incidents for which they were reported. named.

“Placing significant commemorative works (larger than the size of a government gravestone) continues to be a challenge for Arlington National Cemetery,” she wrote in an email at Stars and Stripes. “The main mission of the cemetery is to rest those killed in action, perish in active service, honorably demobilized veterans of our armed forces and eligible family members.”

By their nature and size, she continued, commemorative works occupy burial space for those who would otherwise be honored at the cemetery. She noted that monuments are only placed in sections of the cemetery designated by the secretary of the military, and only on land the secretary determines are not suitable for burial.

Areas not suitable for burial include areas where donated trees have been placed. But as of March 1, 2015, Arlington no longer accepts tree donations, she said.

“There has to be a place for us at Arlington,” Carver said.

For more information on their continued efforts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASAatANC/about/

[email protected] Twitter: @laurenking



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