Jan 14, 2010

PO Box 1142 - Who Knew?

There was an interesting article in my National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) magazine, about a facility known only as P.O. Box 1142.  Very interesting.

P.O. Box 1142 was a secret American military intelligence facility that operated during World War II. The Army and Navy had two special wings whose core duty was to interview the Prisoners of War (POWs), known as MIS-Y (Military Intrellegence Service-Y) and Op-16-Z (Operation-16-Z). They were known by their codename, the mailing address "P.O. Box 1142."  Notable prisoners housed at the facility included rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, spymaster Reinhard Gehlen, and Heinz Schlicke, inventor of infrared detection.

P.O. Box 1142 was based out of Fort Hunt, Virginia, formerly part of George Washington's farmlands. German scientists, submariners and soldiers were questioned.  P.O. Box 1142 obtained valuable intelligence from German POWs and also communicated with Allied POWs overseas. The camp was in violation of the Geneva Conventions because the Red Cross was not notified of the transfer or location of the prisoners, but according to the surviving wardens torture was not used.  However, at least one of those interrogated, U-boat captain Werner Henke, committed suicide. The work done at Fort Hunt contributed to the Allied victory of World War II. It also led to advances in scientific technology and military intelligence that directly influenced the Cold War. 

When the facility was disbanded, the participants were swown to secrecy, and many went to their graves without talking about it.  Over the years, various parts of the information became declassified, but no one told the Veterans.  In 2006, a Fort Hunt park ranger, during one of his tours, explained the history, and a participant explained that his neighbor had been stationed there.  This ranger took the initiative to ensure that this veteran, and others, were notified of the de-classification and to interview them to collect relevant information and history.  In October 2007, a group of the former intelligence workers gathered for the first time since the war's conclusion, and a flagpole and plaque recognizing their contributions were dedicated on the original grounds.  The Park Service is hoping to build a Visitor Center to immortalize this important part of our WWII history.

For the full NPCA Article, click here.


  1. Wow... I don't live too far from Ft. Hunt. This sounds like an excuse for a day trip, to go see it.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I'll have to pass this on to Paul. He's a huge WWII nut. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. I will read the full article soon. Interesting stuff!

  4. Very interesting! I had never heard of it and would like to learn more.

  5. im doing a project on this and so far so good lol very interesting


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