Friday, June 5, 2009


Dear Declassified Secrets:

I am married to the widow of a deceased E-6 cryptologist whose plane exploded enroute from Cubi Point, PI to the Tan Son Nhut facility just outside Saigon, Vietnam. My question why his mission would still be classified? I contacted NSA to get information because I am trying to get his name and the other 9 in the crash on the Vietnam Memorial Wall here in Washington, D.C.

The lady I spoke with said she couldn't give me more information because I was not next-of-kin. What I really don't have is something saying the mission the cryptologists were on was an operational mission in support of the fleet or an operation somewhere in the world. Since he was flying on a C2A from Cubi Point, PI to Tan Son Nhut it appears on the surface he was just on a ordinary "logistics support mission" (something like a mail run) but I know cryptologists don't just fly around (6 of them) to deliver mail. I believe he was enroute to Tan Son Nhut to pick up a different aircraft for further transfer to the USS Enterprise which had just been turned around and headed back towards the Indian Ocean. I believe the 6 cryptologists were going to pick up another plane and fly to the Enterprise where they would then begin their cryptologic mission. I need something official that will say that, because the C2A is not a plane the cryptologists would be conducting operational mission tasks from. That's why they needed to get to Tan Son Nhut to pick up a plane that could fly them to the Enterprise where they could begin their mission once aboard.

One of his two surviving daughters will have to use the FOIA to see what they can find out. Lastly, the lady at NSA told me that the mission that CTR1 Walter Ray Woods Jr. was on has not yet been declassified. His name does appear on the NSA Memorial Wall along with 5 other cryptologists who died that day. This tragic accident occurred on December 12, 1971. You would think it would have been declassified by now. I know what the mission was and where he was going. However, I do not have proof of my knowledge.

Is there any way you could assist by pointing me in the direction of someone who could provide help? I have already written to our congressmen and senators from the state of Maryland and that proved fruitless. I have been supplying information to a man down in Tennessee who puts the packages together to forward up to the Washington area where it is reviewed and if accepted the man in Tennessee is given the word to make the arrangements for his name to be put on the wall, where a ceremony is held every Memorial Day. I really need all the help I can get to crack this one. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. His daughters are grown now with children of their own.

By all means, do anything you need to find people to help us.


Dick Willis
Stanley Associates, Inc
Senior Analyst
1100 New Jersey Ave. SE Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 314-4244 Office
(202) 488-1951 Fax
(301) 448-0491 Cell

COMMENT FROM DECLASSIFIED SECRETS: Mr. Dick Willis mentions The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors E-6 cryptologist Walter Ray Woods Jr. and the five other cryptologists who were killed on that ill-fated flight bound for the Tan Son Nhut facility just outside Saigon, Vietnam. I found the name of Willis and the other cryptologists who died with Woods on that tragic flight on December 12, 1971. They are listed below:

CT03 James M. Coon, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTISN John M. Deremigio, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTO1 Donald E. Dickerson, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTOSN Stephen H. Elliott, USN 12 Dec 1971
CTRI Walter R. Woods, Jr., USN 12 Dec 1971
CTM2 Gregory K. Zeller, USN 12 Dec 1971

In total, there are 153 names on the black granite memorial, which stands 8 feet tall and rests inside the NSA complex. The words, “THEY SERVED IN SILENCE” are etched into the polished stone at the cap of a triangle (Photo above). I attended a seminar inside the CIA HQ not long ago. Just like the memorial inside the NSA HQ, I paused to look at the CIA memorial (Photo below), which has stars for each man and woman who died while in service of country.
To me, both memorials possess a shared voiceless hush of secrecy: men and women who breathed their last breath in the line of duty…little mention of their names……guarded discussions of their undertakings…no public fanfare or shiny medals to wear on ticker tape parades upon arriving under false identities…operating under a cloak of darkness, even after they give their lives in the line of duty.

Any members of the AFIO who are familiar with the mission the six cryptologists undertook when the plane they were on exploded may want to contact Mr. Dick Willis, the writer of the above letter. Perhaps, their assignment should still remain classified- I do not know. However, the NSA still keeps the operation they were on classified. So, any one who knew CTRI Walter R. Woods, Jr., USN or his five cryptologist friends flying with him may want to contact Mr. Willis (and Woods’ widow) and simply share with them your memories of CTRI Walter R. Woods, Jr., USN ...declassified ones, of course!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S.

Related links:

C2A unsuccessful landing on aircraft carrier:

C2A aircraft landing successfully on USS Nimitz:

Note: Aboard ship, Cryptologic Technicians control the flow of messages and information. Their work depends on their special branch: CTAs or Administration Cryptologic Technicians (As of 01 OCT 07 CTA merged with the YN rating) perform administrative and clerical duties that control access to classified material. CTIs or Interpretive Cryptologic Technicians handle radiotelephone communications and foreign language translation. CTMs or Maintenance Cryptologic Technicians maintain electronic and electromechanical equipment. CTNs or Networking Cryptologic Technicians handle computer communication. CTRs or Collection Cryptologic Technicians handle all Morse code communications and operate radio direction-finding equipment. Finally, CTTs or Technical Cryptologic Technicians handle all communications by means other than Morse code and electronic countermeasures. (1)

(1) U.S. Navy Enlisted Ratings". University of California Berkeley, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. U.S. Navy.

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