There have been 191arrests from the 1950’s to 1990’s of individuals that have committed espionage.Though not the longest running spy, one ordinary sailor that was able to committhe worst espionage in U.S. history. John Walker and his recruited members stealthily stole thousands ofdocuments and sold them to the Soviet Union for almost 2 decades. This espionage event will take the U.
S. yearsto recover. John Walker had a traumatic childhood growing up.
John’sfather a film marketer became an alcoholic and lost his job. This led to familybankruptcy and the family moved to Scranton, PA to be closer to family. At the age of 18, John was arrested forburglary, his plea bargain was jail time or to enlist in the military.
This was the start to John’s military career. John enlisted as a radioman and served on board adestroyer escort before joining the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal(CV-59). John was an exemplary sailor inhis commands through the years which lead to a quick advancement to WarrantOfficer within 10 years. Warrant Officer Walker became qualified on maintenanceof cryptographic equipment and was responsible for radio shop of a nuclearmissile submarine. (Prados, 2010). John’s experience and proficient skills led toconstant ship deployments which led to many stressors to his wife and 4children. The constant deployments were difficult on his wife andchildren.
The emotional strain was difficult on his wife; she stopped caringfor the household and began drinking. John thought it was a good idea to start making investments. He boughtland to make a car park but then later built a bar which became a financial burden. Feeling the hardship from poor financialdecisions John started moon lighting driving a cab. Moving rental cars amongcities in the evening to make up for money lost.
(Prados, 2014). Soon John realized this was not enough tobalance his financial hardships. Johnstarted to look for other ways to make money.
John had political disaffection after President Kennedywas assassinated. He believed the assassination was committed to prevent toningdown the cold war. John started to seethat the Soviets were not as aggressive as perceived. John had the idea to equal the playinggrounds and decided to sell US information to the Soviets.
While he was assigned as a watch officer atAtlantic Fleet Submarine Force headquarters in Norfolk, in 1964, Chief WarrantOfficer (CWO) Walker decided to make a photocopy of classified information. Heplaced the copied information into his pocket and took it to the Soviet Embassyin Washington, DC. This is was thebeginning to espionage and lasted 18 years for CWO Walker. CWO Walker only met face-face with KGB agents few timesthroughout his spy career. CWO Walker would have preset drop sites that hewould leave classified information for the KGB to pick up. The first of theinformation that was given were old key lists.
KGB never asked or pressed for current information. Over the next couple of years Walker was ableto supply a huge array of secret Navy and U.S. documents to America’s Cold Waradversary to include operational orders, war plans, technical manuals, andintelligence digests. (Prados, 2014). Around 1974, home life took a turn for the worse.
Walkerwas always sleeping at the BOQ instead of home. His wife suspected that he was having an affair which later was true andthey filed for divorce in 1975. This was also the year the Walker retired fromthe Navy and became a private investigator. Walker believed now that he was retired he would have more freedom ofmovement to get the KGB their information. Prior to his retirement, Walker connected with his old friend SCPO Whitworthwhom just re-enlisted and had access to top secret information. Walker was ableto recruit his friend into stealing US navy information to be sold to KGB.Whitworth was the first to be recruited into his spry ring.
In 1983, Walker wasable to recruit his son Michael whom was an enlisted Yeoman on the NMITZ. Michael photocopied over 1,500 documents toinclude material on weapon systems, nuclear weapons control, commandprocedures, hostile identification and stealth methods, and contingency targetlists. He also included such ordinary items as copies of the Nimitz ship’snewspaper. (Prados, 2014).
Walker did try to recruit his daughter but sherefused. Walker’s last recruit was hisoldest brother Arthur L. Walker, who owed John money. Arthur was a retired Navylieutenant commander working for a defense contractor. Arthur was able toprocure repair records on certain warships plus damage-control manuals foranother. (Prados, 2014).
The year 1984 the operation was cracked by John Walker’sex-wife Barbra. Barbra reported what she suspected to the FBI in Boston. Whenshe made her statement, it was noted that she was drunk at the time and it wasnot taken very serious. The report wasfiled away. A month later the inactive files were combed through and Barbra’sreport was reviewed again and brought to the attention of FBI Joseph R.
Wolfinger, special agent in charge at Norfolk where he gained approval to makean active open case. May 20, 1985 JohnWalker was arrested and 127 classified documents were confiscated.