The History of the U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association

The U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association (U.S. NCVA) began as a desire by some individuals who had served in the U.S. Navy Cryptologic organization during World War II to re-establish and maintain contact with those with whom they had served.

First Steps

usncva logoMuch of the early work of locating and contacting potential members by telephone and mail was done by Lynden Levitt, who then lived in Rapid City, South Dakota and Jack Pickrell, who lived in Denver, Colorado. During the period from the late 1960s until the late 1970s, this group held reunions at various locations around the country.

In 1978, at their ninth reunion in Denver, it was decided to create a more formal organization and the name U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association (U.S. NCVA), suggested by Raymond P. Schmidt (then Naval Security Group Historian), was adopted. At that time there were about 100 members of which 52, most bringing their wives, attended the Denver reunion. They also decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization.

At the 1979 reunion in Rapid City, South Dakota, Rear Admiral Eugene Ince was the guest speaker and declared that the Association could be immensely beneficial to the Navy and to the Naval Security Group Command. The following were elected as members of the board of directors; Raymond Boyer, Daniel Burke, Ralph Briggs, Albert Fishburn, Elmer Frantz, Grant Lawrence, Graydon Lewis, Raymond Parrott, and Richard Stevens. Jack Pickrell was designated as Executive Director, Jack Regan as President, and Lynden Levitt as Vice President.

First Officers

The officers and directors elected to serve for one year were: Jack Regan, Deadwood, South Dakota (chairman and host for the 1979 reunion):

  • Eugene Plume, Aurora, Colorado (president and host of the 1978 reunion)
  • William T. Beltz, Middletwon, Rhode Island (secretary-treasurer)
  • Directors Robert Caple, Elmer Frantz, Richard Stevens, Ralph Briggs, Raymond Parrott, Glenn Evans, and Ken Carmichael

Jack Pickrell was designated files custodian and national secretary.

From Up On The Roof

Some individuals in this early group had been given special training in the 1930s by the Navy and would subsequently become known as members of the “On-the-Roof-Gang” (OTRG). The OTRG name was derived from the location of their training: a steel-reinforced concrete blockhouse on the roof of the sixth wing of the old Main Navy Department building at Constitution Avenue and 17th Streets NW, Washington, DC. During the period 1928 – 1941, 150 US Navy and 26 US Marine Corps enlisted radio operators were trained, in classes usually comprised of six personnel and taught by a Chief Radioman, to intercept and analyze foreign radio communications.

Amateur Radio Operations

Many of the individuals of the early group (1960s – 1970s) were also Amateur Radio operators (HAMs) who were increasingly active on the air under the leadership of Elmer Frantz (W3FQS) and provided valuable and timely distribution of information. They adopted the name Fleet Radio Unit Pacific (FRUPAC) in honor of that most successful World War II communications intelligence organization.


Publication of a U.S. NCVA Newsletter began in November 1979. At the 1980 reunion in Eugene, Oregon, the U.S. NCVA Board of Directors voted to finance the continued publication of a quarterly newsletter. Graydon Lewis was designated as editor, Judy Warren production, and Tom Warren photo editor. The name CRYPTOLOG was suggested by the Naval Security Group Headquarters Staff, and and the first issue using that name was published in the Fall of 1982. Since 1980, the editors have published regular quarterly issues of CRYPTOLOG plus additional special issues from time to time.

Much of the success of the NCVA as an organization is due to the widespread appeal of the CRYPTOLOG. CRYPTOLOG also has provided an outlet for many members to provide stories which otherwise might never have been published. CRYPTOLOG articles are cleared for security with the Naval Security Group Command Headquarters and have frequently addressed some of the continuing and vexing issues of pre-war and World War II cryptologic operations.

 Members of the U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association who have signed up for user accounts with this Website can login and download copies of CRYPTOLOG (2008 – current).

Executive Directors

In May, 2022 at the reunion in Charleston, South Carolina, CTOCM Penny Tardona, a retired Naval Security Group Command Force Master Chief, was elected as the Executive Director. Previous Executive Directors are:

  • Jack Pickrell
  • Ray Boyer
  • Bud Simpson
  • Charlie Walters
  • Bob Anderson
  • William (Bill) Hickey