The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) is dedicated to providing information services and communication for the president and his staff. Former Marine and WHCA veteran James Gosson shares his experience with SOFREP about this prestigious duty of guarding the government’s most sensitive communications equipment.
With WHCA, James Gosson was afforded the opportunity to travel both overseas and inside the United States in advance of the president. One of his best experiences was going to Vietnam. He talks about flying out on a C-5 Galaxy, refueling in mid-air, and landing for a day of rest in Guam. Before taking off for Vietnam, all the president’s communications equipment had to be offloaded and broken down to fit in two C-117 aircraft because the airstrip in Hanoi, Vietnam was too short to land the C-5.
“The worst part of the C-117 was sitting in the cargo hold where it was freezing cold. I sat paranoid and kept an eye on the cargo straps the whole time, worrying that they would snap,” James said.
Upon landing in Hanoi, all the equipment was unstrapped and loaded into 25 locally rented box trucks. The crew traveled on passports and used flip-out White House credentials to clear security. Soon after arriving at their hotel, the crew broke down the Pelican cases full of weapons and communications equipment and chalk-talked the next operational step. A blacked-out WHCA van was already staged to provide electrical generators and satellite communications due to the unreliable power infrastructure of Vietnam. Secret Service agents had an entire floor of the hotel locked down about five days prior to WHCA’s arrival. The president would arrive in approximately three weeks.
The Secret Service, along with James and three other Marines, would provide security to and from each of the president’s stops. All these logistics and manpower for a one-day presidential visit.
Upon completion of one successful year at the White House Communications Agency, military personnel earn the Presidential Service Badge. Along with this badge, James also received a photo with the president in the Oval Office of the White House. James Gosson served four years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a corporal.
Feature image courtesy of nypost.com