Title: InSIDer's View of History: Meeting President Reagan

Release Date: 2016-12-07

Document Date: 2004-06-10

Description: Among several stories NSA employees shared about meeting President Reagan, one anecdote suggests he had a "near-photographic memory" about foreign affairs briefings.

Document: DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS
TOP SECRET // SI / TK // REL TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL

(U) InSIDer's View of History : Meeting President Reagan
FROM: SIGINT Communications
Unknown
Run Date: 06/10/2004
FROM: SIGINT Communications
Unknown
(U//FOUO) Here are some stories from NSA'ers describing their
encounters with President Reagan. Thanks to all who sent in their
anecdotes!
From:

Org: Requirements Analysis Center (S16)
(U//FOUO) As luck would have it, I did meet the Reagans in Berlin
when they hosted a "Birthday Party for Berlin" in the late 80's. As
President Reagan was speaking, a folding chair fell over (loudly) in
the balcony. Mrs. Reagan turned white for a second, but the
President in his typical humorous way, simply looked up and said
"You missed me." The entire group let out an anxious sigh followed
quickly by laughter.
From:

Org: CIA Liaison Support Group (F51)
(U//FOUO) Like many on the White House staff, my most direct
contact with President Reagan was during a grip-and-grin photo
opportunity for those of us assigned to the White House Situation
Room where I was a watch officer from January 1986 to March
1988. What struck me most was that he was shorter than I
expected - not the larger than life figure that you expect from
television - but he still had that warmth that everyone talked
about. The other weird thing about it was that the rest of the
National Security Council were filed out of the conference room and
sort of followed the President going through the receiving line.
(U) My only other direct contact with him was on West Executive
Avenue, which is between the West Wing and the Old Executive
Office Building. As usual, the Secret Service was clearing a path for
Reagan when he was walking between the buildings, so I was told
to stand off the to the side. The President was 20 feet from me and
sends a wave and smile in my direction. I, of course, think, "Whom
was he waving at?" I look and realize I'm the only around.
Somewhat embarrassed, I quickly turn back and gave him a big
wave in return.
(S//SI) My most notable indirect contact with him was his use of
an update on terrorist bombing of a US Air Force bus by the Greek
"November 17" terrorist group. I, along with another NSAer, wrote
a one-paragraph update on the bombing, which went to President
Reagan. About 15 minutes later, we were watching CNN do a photo
op in the Oval Office. Almost immediately, a member of the press
asked about the bombing in Greece. To my amazement, the
President responded just about word for word with the note we had

SERIES:
(U) InSIDer's View of
History '04
1. InSIDer's View of
History ... A Lesson
in Personal
Accountability
2. InSIDer's View of
History : How a Four
Star General Once
Waited for a Lowly
Captain to Finish
Eating Lunch
3. InSIDer's View of
History : In SHAPE,
In France
4. InSIDer's View of
History : 'Soviet
Rocket' Strikes
Chicksands
5. InSIDer's View of
History: Onboard Air
Force Two Bound for
Moscow
6. InSIDer's View of
History : Testifying
Before Congress...
Who Turned Out the
Lights?
7. InSIDer's View of
History : Resourceful
NCOs at Goodfellow
8. InSIDer's View of
History : Desert One
- The Iranian
Hostage Rescue
Mission
9. InSIDer's View of
History : SIGINT
Appearing in the
Press
10. InSIDer's View of
History : Meeting
President Reagan
11. InSIDer's View of
History : 'Local
Support' as Stress
Management

sent up a few minutes before. That's when I knew that he had a
near-photographic memory.
(U//FOUO) The biggest question in the minds of many was how
engaged the President was. While I can't speak to the larger
issues, I can say that I've been a "fly on the wall" during a National
Security Council meeting and was quite stunned to hear the
President as an active and forceful participant in the meeting. Just
another small way he changed my perception of a man that had
been shaped by a press that really didn't know him.

12. In SID er's View of
History : Quite a
Welcome!
13. In SID er's View of
History : The
Adventure Continues
-- Evacuation from
Belgrade

From:
(U) I did get the honor to meet President Reagan when he
dedicated the Ops-2 buildings. I remember that I was not planning
to attend his visit to the agency, because I thought the crowd
would be too large and that the parking would be impossible. But
when the time and date arrived, I told myself that I would try to
see him, if the parking was not impossible. I drove to the main
four buildings and was fortunate enough to find a distant parking
spot. I walked to the back of the crowd who were waiting for the
President's helicopter and him. I waited for a several minutes and
thought that I would not be able to see him because of the
distance between the podium and me. All of a sudden, a lady from
protocol waved the small group I was standing with to the last row
of seating in the VIP section. That row was nearly empty and they
wanted to fill it. I sat 50 feet or so from President Reagan when he
addressed the Agency workforce.
(U) I remember him telling a story about how he was going to get
to NSA. He said he was told to go to 12th and K street and that he
would be picked up by an unmarked van and taken to NSA. He told
us how much he valued our contributions to national security and
the global prominence of United States. He told us that most of
America and the world did not know of the significant of your work,
but he knew and he wanted us to continue our labors in silence.
(U) I have great respect for him, because he had a vision, a
national strategy, and the ability to communicate them. I am
saddened for my, the country's, and the world's loss, but I am also
enthusiastic and optimistic about our future. I have learned much
from him and other great leaders over the years. I know that great
leaders have a vision of the future, a strategy on how to get there,
the ability to communicate them to everyone, and can laugh every
once in a while at themselves. On Friday, I will reflect back on his
vision of America, the situation we were in at the time, and the
rapid growth the agency experienced in the 80's. I will also keep
alive his vision of how great America is and will be in the future.

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid_comms)."

DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS

TOP SECRET // SI / TK // REL TO USA AUS CAN GBR NZL
DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108

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