A total of 176 – 150 Navy and 26 Marine – enlisted radio operators were specially trained at a unique school located on the roof of the old Navy Department Building between 1928 – 1941.
Known as the On-The-Roof Gang (OTRG), they were trained to intercept and analyze foreign radio communications. This group of dedicated and skilled operators formed the vanguard of the U.S. Naval Communications Intelligence efforts and laid the cornerstone of Naval Cryptology.
The history and accomplishments of the On-the-Roof-Gang and its members are honored at two locations.
Naval Security Station
On 17 June 1983, a memorial was dedicated to the OTRG at the headquarters of the Naval Security Group Command*, 3801 Nebraska Avenue NW, Washington, DC. In a surprise ceremony at the post-Dedication party held at the Washington Navy Yard on 19 June 1983, Pearly Phillips was recognized as the prime mover in reconstructing and bringing the original “Roofers” together by being awarded the Naval Security Group Meritorious Service Award.
Naval Technical Training Center Corry Station
A memorial plaque honoring the On-the-Roof-Gang was placed at the Cryptologic Command Display aboard Naval Technical Training Center Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida. Captain David Gill, Commanding Officer, dedicated the plaque with members of the US NCVA and five surviving OTRG veterans:
- Charles Quinn
- Jesse Randle
- Glen Evans
- James Pearson
- Albert Pelletier
- Of the original 176 operators, there are now a total of 2 known survivors.
- The first class at school for enlisted Navy and Marine Corps radio intercept operators (the On-the-Roof-Gang) was held on October 1, 1928.
- The OTRG Association was dissolved in September 1992 and the administration of OTRG affairs is now being handled by the U.S. NCVA.
*This memorial is now located on the quarterdeck of the Command Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.