CIPHER MACHINES AND CRYPTOLOGY
Sgt Amanda Pinson
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Army Sergeant Amanda Pinson worked as a cryptologist in Iraq. She died on March 16, 2006, at the age of 21, when insurgents detonated a mortar round in her compound in Tikrit, Iraq. Amanda enlisted in the Army after graduating from Hancock Place High School, Mississippi. At school she won several scholarships and excelled in academics and athletics. She planned to attend college after her military service and become an FBI or CIA agent. After enlisting, Amanda received training in electronic intelligence at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, after which she was assigned to the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment, 501st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In 2006, her unit was deployed on the frontlines in Iraq. Amanda was part of a highly skilled group who fought their battles not only on the sands of the desert, but also in the electronic ether. As a cryptologist, her role was to provide and protect essential communications, as many cryptologists did in past wars and conflicts.

Signals intelligence and communications security personnel not only works from within their garrison.They must also perform on the front lines in time of war. Amanda's tragic story reminds us to respect all those who serve in silence and risk their life while doing things we don't see, hear or know of. Their work is considered secret and vital to their nation's security, not allowing them to disclose their achievements. They also play an important role in peace time by protecting and gathering information that keeps military powers balanced, as we saw in the Cold War. Amanda is the first female soldier to be honored by the National Security Agency. On May 30, 2006, Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, paid special tribute to Amanda during the Agency’s annual Memorial Day Observance and unveiled Amanda Pinson's name, inscribed on the NSA Memorial Wall.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

Laurence Binyon

Additional links

 Amanda's Honoring by NSA  NSA Memorial Wall  Story of a Cryptologic Hero (pdf)  Mande's Facebook Memorial Page Amanda on Youtube

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