Cryptologist veterans to converge for mini reunion in Nashua
NASHUA – The bi-
annual Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association New England Chapter’s Fall mini reunion will be right here in Nashua at the Raddison Hotel. The chapter’s first meeting was in the city back in 1998.
Veterans will get together and reconnect, share stories and listen to a presentation from a guest speaker over the course of the weekend of Sept. 15-17.
“When we were all doing this for a career in the Navy, we couldn’t talk much about it, so it’s good to talk to people who experienced the same environment and talk more freely,” NCVA-NE Secretary and Treasurer Art Gowie of Bangor, Maine, said.
He said he looks forward to seeing everyone and talking with them.
“It’s probably much more interesting for spouses, because we couldn’t even tell them about what we did,” Gowie said.
The Navy began making efforts to secure communications, while exploiting those of U.S. adversaries in the beginning of the 20th century. In the time between both world wars, some Navy and Marine Corps service members trained themselves in cryptologic procedures. As part of their job duties, cryptologists would collect, analyze and exploit foreign-language communications.
So, NCVA-NE chapter members will gather and reflect on their time decoding while serving the country.
“This gives us a chance to get together with old shipmates,” Gowie said.
For the mini reunions that occur in the spring and fall, 45-60 people attend. The number of attendees grows for the group’s annual national reunions, which occur in the spring.
“The next national reunion will be held in Denver, Colo., and the following one a year later will be held in Portland, Maine,” Gowie said.
Gowie said, depending on where it is and the size of its national reunions, those are five- to six-day event.
He said the New England chapter has around 200 members and nationwide, there’s around 3,200 members.
“Typically, the national reunion draws 475 to 650 people,” Gowie said. “It’s a four-year planning process to put on a national event.”
Local reunions will have a member from their group giving a presentation.
“For local ones, we support a local group who needs support, usually a veterans groups, by supplying food and so on,” Gowie said.
“We’ve been doing the mini reunions since 1998. NCVA has held a national annual reunion in a different state since probably the ’70s,” said Ed Carey, NCVA-NE fall mini reunion event host. “Back in 1998, the first NCVA-NE mini reunion was held in Nashua. Three or four years after originating the chapter, (we) got up to 400 members or so. Twenty years later, we have 50-60 members as people age.”
Most of the members are in their 70s and 80s, Carey said.
“Most of us are senior citizens, but we get together and we have a business meeting Friday. The next morning, we decide which charity we’ll support and when the next meeting will be. Saturday, we have a guest speaker, followed by cocktails and dinner. Then we leave Sunday morning,” Carey said.
This year’s guest speaker is a NCVA member from New York.
“We get together and talk about things that happened, tell stories and the stories get bigger, braver and bolder each year,” Carey said.