U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association

About The Author: Raymond P. Schmidt, CAPT, USNR (Ret.)

Raymond P. Schmidt conducted research and taught cryptanalysis for three years at the National Security Agency during his first tour of Navy active duty as a commissioned officer. In 1961 he graduated from the Lambros D. Callimahos Intensive Study Program in General Cryptanalysis. Ordered to Key West, Florida in October 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was the Naval Security Group Activity Communications Officer during and after the critical months of that crisis. He went on to serve as Senior Operations Watch Officer for the Activity.

Raymond P. Schmidt, CAPT, USNR (Ret.)In June 1968, Raymond P. Schmidt began a 14-year tour as the first civilian historian for U.S. Naval Cryptology, successor in that function to a U.S. Navy OP-20-G team of active duty professional historians during World War II. In addition to conducting interviews and writing and editing numerous articles for Navy and NSA publications, he:

  • Prepared the first Naval Security Group regulations requiring classified and compartmented annual history reports and for filing and disposing records.
  • Managed the Navy and Marine Corps SCI Central Records Facility.
  • Carried out the numerous duties of archivist and records manager for the Naval Security Group and curator of Naval cryptologic artifacts.
  • Created and directed the first Naval Cryptologic Museum.
  • Hosted several World War II veterans and helped them record their service to the Navy in cryptology.
  • Organized and headed the Naval Security Group Command Records Declassification Program.

Captain Schmidt also assisted in the compilation of Naval Cryptologic History from its origins to World War II by Captain Jack S. Holtwick, coordinated the design and research of a Center for Naval Analyses study of Navy Cryptologic Direct Support in Vietnam, and contributed to and co-authored several joint NSA-Service Cryptologic Agency compartmented histories of communications security and cryptology in the Southeast Asia Conflict, several of which have since been declassified and posted online.

Following 16 months as the Office of Naval Intelligence Congressional Security Review Officer, in December 1983 he was recalled to active duty to serve as the first National Security Agency/Central Security Service Reserve Forces Advisor. The same year the U.S. Naval Institute published The Naval Officer’s Guide that included a chapter he wrote on the Naval Reserve. In 1985, the late RADM Edwin T. Layton acknowledged his contributions to the preparation and critical reading of his memoir, “And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets”.

Captain Schmidt organized and moderated a distinguished international panel at the U.S. Naval Academy in September 1985 on the Pearl Harbor attack consisting of RADM Robert H. Weeks, RADM Donald “Mac” Showers, CAPT Roger Pineau, and Professor Keiji Myoshi of Tokuyama University of Japan, who each presented papers. This history panel motivated an assistant to the Secretary of the Navy to urge Secretary John Lehman to ask President Ronald Reagan to approve in 1986 the posthumous award of the Distinguished Service Medal to the late CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort, head of the Radio Intelligence unit HYPO at Pearl Harbor.

Returning to civilian status in July 1988, he headed Navy Information Security Policy and then directed the Department of the Navy Records Declassification Program until retirement in January 2000. During that time, the Navy Department selected him as its member on the Department of Defense National Disclosure Policy Committee Teams for Thailand and Japan in 1989 and Germany in 1991; he led the DoD NDPC Team to Albania in 1995. After retirement, he reviewed Naval records at the National Archives for several years as part of the Nazi War Crimes Interagency Working Group.

RADM Donald “Mac” Showers tapped him to present his paper on COMINT at Pearl Harbor for the 1991 annual Nimitz Foundation World War II conference in Austin, TX, and the Foundation selected him as the symposium moderator the following year on the recommendation of Walter Cronkite.

From 1992 through 1996, he edited the National Classification Management Society professional journal, Viewpoints. Since 2003, he has assisted in scanning the papers of the late VADM Russell Willson.

Willson was Assistant Director of Naval Communications and inventor of the World War I Navy Cipher Box, and a crucial advisor to the State Department at the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks Conference and the 1945 San Francisco U.N. Conference on International Organization.

He has written numerous articles concerning VADM Willson’s vital contributions to U.S. Naval cryptology to ensure that his legacy is preserved, acknowledged, and properly honored.

Over the years since full retirement in 2003, he has published numerous book reviews and articles in Navy and NSA professional periodicals, plus two articles in Prologue, quarterly journal of the National Archives.

Elliot Carlson, author of “Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway”, credited him, as the former historian of the Naval Security Group, with providing advice and assistance in the research and writing of this seminal work.

Captain Schmidt also continues a project to organize the papers of the late RADM Joseph N. Wenger and ensure they are preserved electronically.

Wenger was head of OP-20-G in World War II, selected as the first Navy Cryptologic Flag Officer, the first Deputy Director of Armed Forces Security Agency, and the first Vice Director of NSA.

He continues conducting pro bono research and writing from Tennessee and coordinating with officers of the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association to preserve and promote U.S. Naval Cryptologic History.

In September 1993, CAPT Schmidt retired from the Navy Reserve after 40 years. He enlisted as a Seaman Recruit in 1955 and advanced to Fire Control Technician Third Class in 1958. He earned his Naval Reserve commission in 1959 while serving as the Regimental Commander for three classes of the Newport, Rhode Island Officer Candidate School. Over the next 22 years he earned five promotions, capping his career with selection for Captain (O6) in September 1991. His decorations include the:

  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Navy Meritorious Service Medal
  • Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Award
  • Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal with three Hourglass Devices

Among other awards, he received, and proudly wears, the Vietnam Service Pin.

CAPT Schmidt began work in 1960 on his Master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Maryland for after-hours students; he had completed all courses and was drafting a thesis on President Woodrow Wilson’s decision for war in April 1917 when his program was terminated by an overnight Navy transfer to Key West, Florida during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

By 1982, he had also completed courses after hours for a PhD in Law and Policy Students at The American University School of Government and Politics in Washington, D.C. His thesis analyzed the Social Security crisis during a period of turmoil that threatened the long-term viability of the venerable New Deal Program. A promotion in August 1982 and transfer to the Office of Naval Intelligence as Senior Congressional Security Policy Review Officer brought greater responsibilities and required moving to work at the Pentagon, forcing termination of this program.

Captain Schmidt has also completed numerous Navy schools, as well as graduating from several courses offered by the Naval War College and the National Defense University. He earned Bachelors and Master’s in History at the Universities of Nebraska (1958) and Wisconsin (1966), respectively.