This is for my parents.
My aunt Sheilah Hurley says that her dad, my grandfather Bill Hurley, called himself "the world's oldest living second lieutenant" (even though he was actually promoted to first lieutenant after the war ended). I initially started to write this paper about his World War II service at her request, as part of a larger Hurley family history research project she'd been working on for several years. However, once I got started, I found it very absorbing and I've been working away -- slowly -- for a couple of years. Thes following pages contain what I've learned.
Bill Hurley was my grandfather, and I was named for him. He served in the Second World War, but I never heard any stories about it from him: he passed away when I was young, and he'd been sworn to secrecy about his Army service when he was discharged. In fact, his own children didn't know much about what he'd done for the two years he spent in the south Pacific after being commissioned an officer, so carefully did he honor that vow of silence.
In 1944 and 1945, Grandpa Hurley was an Intelligence Evaluation Officer in the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in the vast group of islands now called Indonesia, and worked at reading through intercepted Japanese Army and Navy radio messages and trying to decide how useful they were. Secret information obtained this way was called ULTRA (a name that isn't an acronym); MAGIC was another code name that refers specifically to decoded Japanese diplomatic radio messages. Both of these were vital to American victory in the war, and most documents relating to them have remained classified until only recently. In fact, many files concerning Grandpa Hurley's service, including the unit history of the 7th Army Air Force Radio Squadron, Mobile (J), or 7th AAF RSM, are off-limits to civilians, so the story of those years still has a lot of holes.
This paper is built on several sources: some of Grandpa Hurley's letters home to his family, his official Army personnel files, a stack of black-and-white photos, and some of the books and articles just now being written as government documents relating to MAGIC and ULTRA intelligence are declassified. In addition, there are some maps of the south Pacific, as well as a few brief background pieces about Army intelligence training, MAGIC/ULTRA intelligence, and the special difficulty of trying to intercept and use Japanese Morse Code messages.
I have several of the very few items left from Grandpa Hurley's Army service. When Grandma Hurley moved out of their old house at 1492 Summit Ave. in St. Paul, she gave me his dog tags, as well as a wallet card and lapel pin that he had received at discharge: