RADM Bob Weeks was born November 2, 1909, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He earned an appointment to the Naval Academy in 1928 and graduated in 1932 along with such classmates as John M. Lietwiler, Alfred G. Ward, Bruce McCandless, and Lloyd M. Mustin. Subsequent promotions included LTJG, 1935; LT, 1939; LCDR, June 1942; CDR, November 1942; CAPT, 1951, and RADM, 1960. He transferred to the retired list in 1971.
From 1933 through 1934 he served on board the heavy cruisers Chester and Portland. In 1935 he qualified as a submariner and then served in submarines until 1938, first in the S-43 and then in the S-25. In 1938, Weeks was briefly attached to the staff of the commander in chief, U.S. Fleet.
LTJG Weeks was then selected for cryptographic training at Main Navy with OP-20-G. By the late 1930s such training had evolved into a two-year course. He started in June 1939, along with LTJG Herbert Coleman and John Lietwiler.
One day in early 1941, fellow OP-20-G officer LCDR Alwin Kramer, who coincidentally was Weeks’ next-door neighbor, brought him into his house to see Kramer’s latest “haul” from an ONI “black-bag job” against the Japanese consulate in New York City. Kramer had personally developed the resulting spy-camera photos of documents in his basement darkroom. However, they had to quickly hide the photos after they heard knock on the door. The unexpected visitor was the Japanese naval attaché in Washington that Kramer knew.
In January 1941, LT Weeks joined LTJG Prescott Currier (also of OP-20-G) and U.S. Army officers Capt Abraham Sinkov and LT Leo Rosen (of the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service) on a ten week mission to Great Britain. They delivered American communication intelligence material to the British, including two copies of the PURPLE machine and two RED machines. In return, the British provided them with a small amount of information about their exploitation of the German ENIGMA – as well as considerable information concerning other nations’ systems. The Americans were also provided with some state-of-the-art British direction-finding equipment. Even with the miniscule disclosure of ENIGMA information, for the United States this was one of the most significant signals intelligence events of the prewar period.
While in England, Weeks and Currier traveled around the country to see various intercept stations and other places of interest. One day their car was stopped in a small village by a zealous local constable who was suspicious of foreigners. He announced that he was going to detain them and take them to the station, whereupon their British War Officer driver jumped out of the car in a fury and shouted at the top of his voice, “Ye canna do this! They are Americans and they are on a secret mission!”
Before they left England, at the insistence of their hosts, Weeks had to write and sign a handwritten commitment to preserve the secrecy of the information gathered, informing “by word of mouth only the head of our section, CDR Safford.” The army officers executed a similar document.
Not long after returning from this mission, Weeks was detached from OP-20-G. He was assigned to the newly activated CinClant communication security unit, which was located onboard the Atlantic Fleet flagship, the heavy cruiser Augusta – which he reported to in Newport, Rhode Island. At that time the commander in chief Atlantic was ADM Ernest J. King.
In October 1941, Weeks’ name was included on a list drawn up by Safford, identifying a small group of only eighteen officers that he considered “qualified and acceptable” for communications intelligence and cryptanalysis.
During World War II, Weeks held several naval communications security positions in Washington, one of which included carrying coded information on board President Roosevelt’s yacht on the Potomac River. In August 1941, Weeks traveled with Roosevelts to Newfoundland for the president’s historic meeting with British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill where they produced the pivotal policy statement known as the Atlantic Charter.
In 1947 and 1948, Weeks severed as the commanding officer of the destroyer James C. Owens when she supported the UN’s Palestine/Israel Mediation Force. He then commanded the oiler Sabine during 1953 and 1954.
Weeks then attended the Naval War College, graduating in June 1955, along with Captain Stephen Jurika and Rudolph Fabian.
Then, as the commodore of Destroyer Squadron Ten (during 1958 and 1959, onboard the USS Forrest Herman), he commanded an Atlantic task force which transited the Suez Canal to join Pacific forces protecting Formosa (Taiwan) from communist China.
After selection for rear admiral in 1960, Weeks became the commander of Cruiser/Destroyer Flotilla Ten, serving in 1961 and 1962. He then became Deputy for Communications and Electronics, European Command, based in Paris from 1963 to 1965. Rear Admiral Weeks served as the director of Naval Communications from 1965 to 1968, and then finished his career as vice director of the Defense Communications Agency, retiring in 1971.
In retirement Admiral Weeks tutored English and a second language to children in the Arlington school system. He had long been interested in languages; early in his career he had obtain a qualification as an interpreter of French.
In the early 1980s, Weeks put in considerable effort helping RADM Edwin Layton (and his coauthors) work on Layton’s reminisces, “And I Was There”: Pearl Harbor and Midway – Breaking the Secrets.
Weeks married Reina Sigrid Alvord of Long Meadow, Massachusetts, in 1934. Born in 1912, Mrs. Weeks, predeceased him in 1994.
On June 11, 2003, Admiral Weeks died of pneumonia, at the Arleigh Burke Pavilion in McLean, Virginia. He was ninety-three years old. He is buried at Arlington Nation Cemetery. His decorations and awards include a Legion of Merit.
Source: U.S. Navy Codebreakers, Linguists, and Intelligence Officers against Japan, 1910-1941.
Leave a Reply