William Hadley enjoyed an impressive 27 year career with the U.S. Naval Security Group. Throughout his career he carefully documented details of his adventures, accomplishments and support to missions. Due to the length of his story, however, this five part series will only focus from March 1958 to June 1966.
By William Hadley
Assignment to Naval Security Group – November 1947 – August 1948
I have always wondered what happened to those shipmates who were the very first inductees into the Naval Security Group directly from boot camp. I received orders in October 1947 to report to CNO/DNC OP-20-G right out of boot camp; those orders started me on a very interesting 27-year period of my life. It seems everyone at San Diego Recruit training command was in total shock that 25 boots were ordered to such a high command level organization.
I was initially an AETM (Aviation Electronic Technician Maintenance) student supposedly reporting to Memphis, Tennessee for school. Instead, our draft, as well as one from Great Lakes, had their orders changed to Washington, D.C. We arrived at Union Station and were bused to Quarters “I”, located next to the Lincoln Memorial. We were totally in the dark about what would happen to us but were instructed to report to the Navy Department, located on Constitution Avenue, at 0800 the next morning. Since it was just a short distance from Quarters “I” to Main Navy, we simply walked over.
I am quite sure most “boots” by the time they finished training had rarely seen an officer higher than a LT. Here I was, walking down the hallway at Main Navy seeing Captains, Commanders and Admirals. Instead of paying attention to where I was walking, looking at all this gold braid, I bumped into a Rear Admiral. That scared me so I quickly backed away and almost knocked down another Admiral. By this time, panic had set in and I started to bolt down the passageway and knocked Admiral Halsey to the floor, as all I could see was gold from the tip of his sleeve up to his elbow. I took off running, turned into one of the wings, and found a sign indicating a head. I quickly went in to an empty stall and remained for what seemed like hours. Finally, I came out and found the office where I was to report, worrying they were still looking for me.
The instructions I received at this office were very simple: I was to take the R-4 bus from Quarters “I” and get off at 17th & K N.W. Then I believe it was the N-2 bus to Ward Circle. Upon arriving at 3801 Nebraska Avenue, I was issued a temporary badge and told to wait for an escort. Finally, enough of our group arrived so they had us escorted into Building 1 and we began our career in the Naval Security Group.
I am sure everyone remembers the effort required to complete the PHS-298 form, asking about your grandparents etc. After signing our security oath we moved up to the third floor into a small room that could barely hold the 25 of us. We were given cryptograms and instructions on how we could decode them. During the next six or seven weeks we sat at our desks laboriously attempting to decipher these messages, each more complex in technique.
Destroying The BOMBEs
Upon completing this project, a number of us were assigned to a couple of chiefs; I forget their names now but one had a Carpenter’s rating and the other a Machinist. Our task was to dismantle all the BOMBEs in Building 4A. Each machine weighed more than the hydraulic elevator could accommodate and to resolve this was very critical. As we would push one onto the elevator, it became overloaded and began sinking slowly. As we neared the basement, the Chief would have us quickly push the unit off the elevator as we reached this floor. Once part of the machine was off the elevator, it would try to return to the designated floor. The Chief would then push the basement button and cancel the effort of returning to the second or third floor. This was the method used to move all the basic units down for subsequent shipment off site.
About every three or four weeks, we were scheduled to work at night loading a dump truck with metal parts removed from the Bombes. The chief would have a couple of us sitting on top of this pile of metal parts with a carbine while an officer with a .45 caliber pistol would ride in the cab. They would schedule our trip to arrive at the Naval Gun Factory after midnight when all the regular workers were gone. The driver dumped the load of metal in front of a huge electrical furnace with three sets of cables sticking out of it. The chief and an officer would supervise us shoveling these parts into the furnace, making sure we did not leave any on the ground. The operator then started the furnace, which involved a one second burst of electrical power to the three groups of cables sounding like a huge blast. There would be a two second pause and the sequence would be repeated. Every time power was applied, the cables would actually jump and then hang when power was removed. After an hour or so, the officer would be satisfied the metal parts could not be recognized and we would leave. This project took about six months of hard work to complete.
Wrong People Assigned these Posts
While stationed at headquarters, I witnessed a very unusual incident. President Truman and his entourage decided to visit our command unannounced. When they arrived and parked inside the outside fence, I was exiting Building 4 going to sickbay. With all the brass, I remained just outside the entrance to Building 4 waiting for them to enter Building 1. As they reached the gate to Building 1, the marine at the gate refused to let them enter because they did not have the appropriate badge. There was some delay and suddenly I saw the Sergeant of the Guard come running with a batch of badges at the same time the Captain came out of the building almost running. After everyone entered the building, I tried to exit this gate. The poor Marine was so upset he was shaking and could not put the key in the lock so I took the key and unlocked the gate while he told me what happened.
When the presidential party came up to the gate, the Marine saluted but informed the party he could not let them pass as they did not have the appropriate badge. One of the aides asked the Marine if he knew the Admiral and he replied, “Admiral Denfield” (CNO) and did he know the civilian, and he replied “President of the United States.” He then stated that his orders were quite firm in that NO ONE WITHOUT AN APPROPRIATE
BADGE CAN BE ADMITTED. About this time, the Sergeant with the badges and the Captain arrived.
The next day as I went through the main gate, there was the formerly PFC with new Sergeant stripes and on the gate to the Admin building, was a new PFC (formerly the Sergeant.) This raised a lot of interest on my part so at my first opportunity I talked with the Captain’s yeoman. It seems everyone was apologizing to the President for the mix up. His response was there was nothing wrong except they had the wrong people assigned these posts.
26 September 2021 at 10:31
This article certainly brings back a lot of memories, I reported into 3801 in January 1948. I remember the bus ride from Qtrs I and would often see President Truman on his morning walk going up 17th Street, followed by a single Secret Service agent.
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