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World War II Vets Honored For Top-Secret Work

George Washington Memorial Parkway

National Park News

After over 60 years of silence, World War II veterans were finally reunited and given the opportunity to speak about their work at “P.O. Box 1142,” a secret military intelligence facility that operated at what is now known as Fort Hunt Park. On October 5th and 6th, the park hosted a reunion, symposium, and the first formal recognition to honor the veterans.

During a ceremony at Fort Hunt Park, veterans and rangers dedicated a new flagpole and historical marker and, at precisely 11:42 a.m., together raised the first flag at Fort Hunt since the Second World War. As part of the ceremony, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy officially recognized their veterans. After a picnic lunch, the veterans were given an opportunity to share their memories of service at P.O. Box 1142.  

On the second day, participants attended a symposium at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Seven speakers presented a wide range of research and discussions relative to the history of Fort Hunt and the military intelligence activities conducted at the site during World War II.  Several veterans participated in a moderated panel discussion sharing their experiences and perspectives on their secret work at
P.O. Box 1142. 

Two military intelligence programs operated at P.O. Box 1142 from 1942 to 1946. The Army’s Military Intelligence Services (MIS) coordinated the MIS-X program,
which communicated with American soldiers held captive by the enemy Axis forces
and attempted to coordinate their escape. The larger MIS-Y program worked with the
U.S. Navy’s OP-16-Z program to carry out the interrogation of nearly 4,000 enemy prisoners of war and scientists and resulted in the discovery of many of Germany’s
secret programs. The work of the military intelligence programs at Fort Hunt not only contributed to Allied victory during World War II, but also led to advances in military intelligence and scientific technology that directly influenced the Cold War and Space Race.

Today, the Fort Hunt oral history project seeks to document the stories of P.O. Box 1142 and the American intelligence staff who operated the secret programs. What began as a simple conversation with a lone veteran has expanded into a major research project that has not only successfully recovered hundreds of pages of declassified records from the National Archives and Records Administration, but has made contact with 37 surviving veterans. To date, the George Washington Memorial Parkway staff has completed formal oral history interviews with 20 of these veterans. While some aspects of Fort Hunt’s history have been told in the past, the story of these interrogators is one of compelling human interest, honor, and triumph during World War II.


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