PROUD VETERAN OF THE U.S. ARMY
MY SERVICE UNITS
- (Probably going to have to redo
this page as there are a lot of embedded features which make
it awkward to update.)
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Basic
Training. A prior service soldier died of a heart attack on
our first force march. He seemed "old" to me but was
probably in his early 30s.
- Ft. Devens, Ayer, MA, Advanced
Individual Training as an 05H20, U.S.
Army Security Agency. I was
first in my class, setting a record in completing the
training which resulted in some pretty high expectations at
my first duty station.
- Torii Station, Okinawa (ASA). My
uncle, my mother's brother, landed near the future location
of this station during WWII. The old bunkers were still on
the shoreline below the antenna field for this station when
I served here. While at Torii Station, I volunteered for two
deployments with an ASA Special Operations Detachment (SOD).
- Ramasan Station, 7th RRFS, (ASA),
Bahn Non Soong, Thailand.
- Officially RRFS = "Radio Research
Field Station", AKA "Rock and Roll Freak Show".
Volunteered for the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in addition
to other duties. Several Army Rangers were attached to
this unit and we worked with them daily.
- In memory of my good friend SP4
Keith Zollinhofer who died of a variety of complications
from Agent Orange exposure on 4 February 2003. I served
with him for most of my time in the ASA at two duty
stations, lastly at Ramasan Station.
- Plan to do some history of my
ASA/NSA service in Asia and SE Asia, but will put that in
a separate page linked to this one.
- B Troop, 2/10th Air Cavalry (Buffalo
Soldiers!!), a Scout Helicopter Squadron attached to
the 7th Infantry Division. Promoted to Sergeant, E5, there.
Garry Owen! My DD215 says SP5 and I spotted the error when
processing out, but it would have required a few
minutes to get the clerk to correct it and I did not want to
wait. The 10th was being reconstituted and was short
staffed, so I actually had my own platoon as a mere Sgt for
a few months. My uncle, James Walton "Bud" Hostetter, served
in the 7th during WWII and was with the 7th on Okinawa,
landing not far from what was later the ASA base.
- Illinois, 5035th USAR School,
Active Reserves. I was almost instantly promoted to SSG, E6,
there and it was suggested by S2 to down grade my clearance
from Top Secret to Secret but I never did and guess all my
paperwork still says Top Secret/Crypto. This was an officer
training unit and I wore many hats during my year there.
There was still an active ASA reserve unit in Seattle where
I relocated to after leaving the 5035th and I planned to
transfer to it and did meet with them, but did not complete
the transfer. Their mission was in Central America at that
- Highest rank attained: Staff
Sergeant. I was boarded for Warrant Officer at the 5035th.
- Were you exposed to Agent
Orange? Be sure to read the Pact
ASA on Wikipedia here.
Take this presentation of information with a grain of salt,
especially the 1945-1965 part. I joined the ASA well after 1965
at the age of 17 with an IQ of 143 and no college. Scoring in
the top 10% on the military aptitude tests was still a
requirement for membership in the ASA in 1972, which is
how I was recruited. The Army also tried to recruit me for
the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS)
for West Point, while I was in basic training at Fort Leonard
Wood, but I wanted to see the elephant not spend more time at
school.. I knew a lot of incredibly talented, highly intelligent
folks who served in the ASA during the period from 1965 to 1977.
It was also the period when the ASA became diverse, no longer
exclusively for white males. I, and everyone that I served with
in the ASA, had at minimum a Top Secret Crypto security
clearance. It is true, however, that a great many of these
soldiers were inspired to enlist by the draft. The ASA was
directly subordinate to the NSA during this period and a lot of
control over operations. The ASA of my time was treated
exceptionally well and were considered an "elite" unit". The
Wikipedia narrative is a good example of "you get what you pay
for" with a site like Wikipedia. Portions of the article were
biased and based on elitist ignorance, and a good dose of sour
grapes when I first looked at it, but I have not been monitoring
it, so that may have changed.. The NSA site, below, more
accurately relates the facts about the history of the ASA.
Links to the National Army Security
Agency Web site.
The NSA's Army Security Agency memorial page.
comments on life in the ASA/NSA
Being associated with the ASA/NSA was generally
stressful due to the sensitivity and confidential nature
of the mission. For instance, I received several
commendations from the NSA but I have no idea what most of
them were for as that was classified! Guessing there is a
folder in some file cabinet in an NSA basement with my
name on it with stuff like that in it. We were not allowed
to talk about what we did outside of closely controlled
environments and were debriefed for 30 years when we were
discharged from the service, which means we could discuss
nothing about our work during that time. That is part of
the reason that information about what we did is
fragmentary and efforts were started in the early 2000s by
ex-ASAers to attempt to document the operational history
of our organization, especially in SE Asia.
We could not be put under anesthesia without another
soldier with a similar level clearance standing next to
our unconscious body to make certain we did not
inadvertently reveal any classified information. There
were several travel restrictions, countries we were not
allowed to visit even after discharge from service. We
were trained to closely monitor attempts to contact us or
form relationships with those outside of our small
intelligence community. Twice, members of my team were
abducted (both men survived and were recovered) and there
was a bounty on our lives in more than one war zone. I
later ran into one of those men on the factory floor of
Caterpillar Building X in East Peoria, IL! On a few
occasions, I was "issued" amphetamines in protracted
It was obvious that we each had one or more handlers
inside the NSA as our performance was closely monitored.
At least, that was my experience, based on how actively my
work was scrutinized and commented on.
It was not unusual for ASAers to "break" under the strain
in this environment and there were a few well known
indicators of such a progression that made their team
members start watching folks exhibiting these "symptoms"
out of the corner of their eyes as this infrequently led
to a violent episode.
So, it was an environment which lent itself to a certain
level of mistrust and paranoia. After I ETSed from the
Army, I was recruited by the CIA but only read the
application they sent up to page nine of twenty five,
before I tossed it. I assume that attempt was because of
my security clearance and past association with the NSA?
Vetting someone for a Top Secret+ security clearance
is a lengthy, expensive process. At any rate, it was not a
way life that I wanted to continue to live.
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