Fort Devens Museum

Army Security Agency Training Center and School

Submitted by Walter Chisholm

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From DEVENS DISPATCH May 5, 1964


The United States Army Security Agency Training Center and School is a Class II activity, assigned to the Chief, US Army Security Agency, and attached to the US Army Garrison, Fort Devens.

It is responsible for providing military education and appropriate technical training to selected officers, enlisted, and civilian personnel of the various services of the US Army Security Agency.

When the Army Security Agency was organized in 1945, the Chief of the Army and attached to the US Army Garrison, Fort Devens.

It is responsible for providing military education and appropriate technical training to selected officers, enlisted, and civilian personnel of the various services in fields peculiar to the activities of the US Army Security Agency.

When the Army Security Agency was organized in 1945, the Chief of the Army Security Agency assumed control of the Vint Hill Farms branch of the Signal School and in 1946 it was officially designated the US Army Security Training Center and School.

The police action in Korea made it apparent that the existing facilities could not meet the increasing demands for Agency trained personnel, and in November 1950, Fort Devens was picked as the new home of the USASATC&S.

The move was completed by April 15, 1951, and without interruption of its training mission. The current commandant is Col. Phillip B. Davidson, Jr.

VAN FOUR TENTS AS ASA DISPLAY The Army Security Agency exhibit of the Armed Forces Fay Midway here Saturday will feature equipment, materials, and methods used by ASA in their daily work.

The exhibit will consist of four tents and one van. These tents will feature all parts of ASA operations and procedures.

Tent number one will hold training aids, ranging from infrared "black lights" in overhead projectors, which are used to project transparent images to a lighted room.

Tent number two will contain two telephones connected to a switchboard, and radio set operating in "clear" (uncoded) text, Visitors to the tent will be permitted to converse over both the telephones and the radio. A tape will also be operating on the radio system, and both recorded and spontaneous communications will be monitored by a Teletype system.

Tent number three will feature inoperative displays of tent equipment used to keep ASA's equipment in hairline operating condition. Visitors will be able to take part in a "See your voice" demonstration.

Visitors to the fourth tent will see an amateur radio station in operation, and will have the opportunity to broadcast personal Mother's Day messages.

The van which will be used will be one of the Agency's expandable vans, which has the ability to grow to size to hold varying amounts of equipment in the field. It will contain some of the highly sophisticated data-processing equipment now in use by the Army Security Agency. Visitors to the van will be given pre-punched and printed IBM data cars, containing the message, "Welcome to Armed Forced Day Exhibit, 1964, Fort Devens, Mass." And will be encouraged to operate key-driven IBM punch machines.

Davis Library, Fort Devens Massachusetts

Davis Library was named in honor of Sp 4 James Thomas Davis, 3rd Radio Research Unit who had been very active in library programs conducted at Fort Devens while he was stationed there as a member of the US Army Security Agency. He was the first American soldier to be killed in action in Vietnam on 22 December 1961. He served from September 20 to December22 as a Radio research Advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On that day, while engaged as an advisor to the Army signal Research Tech, he was required to deploy a new location and was en route when communist rebels ambushed his team. The truck in which the team was riding hit a road mine, throwing all of the personnel to the ground. Spec. Davis managed to bring his own weapon into play and fired several rounds before receiving fatal wounds from the enemy small arms fire. He was awarded the Army Commendation medal for his dedication to duty and he was later recommended for the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals.

His family, Mr. and Mrs. James C. Davis of Livingston, Tennessee, and top officials dedicated the Library to Davis memory on February 15, 1975. The one-story library is constructed of red brick and has shelving space for 40,000 volumes; a separate listening room for study and a separate parking lot for the library's patrons. After the base closed, several neighboring communities used it temporarily while their buildings were being renovated. At the present time, it is vacant.

(Adapted from Fort Devens Dispatch May 1, 1985)

About me...

Most enlistees who joined the Army when I did, did so for a period of three years and that was my intention, too. However, after taking the ordinary battery of tests given to new recruits, I and two others in my group were called aside and taken to a room to talk to another recruiter. He told us that our high scores on those tests qualified us to join an elite group of soldiers in the "Army Security Agency". Of course we had never heard of the ASA and when we asked questions he seemed quite evasive saying only that it was so secret that he couldn't tell us much about it, but he used the words "Top Secret" several times. Sounded very "cloak and dagger". He made a point that "you don't have much time to decide. If you accept, I have to get you on a plane to Fort Jackson SC where you will undergo basic training and then go on to your ASA schooling." We were at the induction station in Louisville KY and I had expected to go to basic just down the road at Fort Knox KY. At the time, I had never flown on a commercial airliner and the prospect of doing so, probably helped to sway my decision. Anyway, that and the way he didn't explain it, made it sound so intriguing that all three of us took the bait. Then he said "One more thing...because the ASA schooling is considerably more extensive than most other MOS's...many take from 6 to 12 months...the required period of enlistment is four years instead of the usual three". We all three thought about it for a moment, but it didn't deter us. We signed the paper and took the oath of enlistment.

After basic at Fort Jackson, I arrived at Fort Devens in March of 1964. Upon arrival there everyone was first assigned to Charlie Company. Before anyone could start training, a complete background investigation had to be performed by the FBI. That sometimes took a few weeks. C-company was a holding company where you spent most of your time pulling KP, Police Call, or other such menial tasks while you waited for your security clearance to arrive. I was transferred to A-company during training.

Classes were conducted in Revere Hall, which we called "The Bird Cage". My class was 26 weeks long and I graduated in October of 1964 as a Terminal Intercept Equipment Repairman...MOS 286.2 (later changed to 33C20). My first assignment was at Arlington Hall Station, with temporary duty on a Naval Station in Virginia. Subsequent assignments were at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade MD, Vint Hill Farms Station at Warrenton VA and the 175th Radio Research Company ('66-'67) in Saigon, Vietnam. I was discharged in Jan 1968.


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