CIA Commemorates 78th Star at Memorial Ceremony
McLean, VA - At its annual Memorial Ceremony this morning, the CIA formally commemorated the 78th star on its Memorial Wall, honoring former Agency officer Tucker Gougelmann, who died in Vietnam in the summer of 1976 after 11 months of torture.
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) John E. McLaughlin, who presided at the ceremony because Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet is currently in the Mideast, said the 78 stars on the Memorial Wall "are to us more than symbols, more than history. They are a priceless part of who we are. They are the colleagues and leaders who define us — in dedication and in sacrifice. It is in this new century their mission we seek to accomplish. And it is their commitment of which we seek to be worthy."
Speaking to the families of CIA officers who have died in the line of duty, as well as the several hundred employees who also attended the ceremony, McLaughlin said, "Those who seek the essence of our Agency — its ethic, its spirit, its drive — need only come to this wall. For each day, in this building and throughout the world, the men and women of the CIA strive to keep faith with those whose extraordinary commitment we honor here."
McLaughlin lauded Gougelmann, a paramilitary officer who retired from the Agency in 1972 after a 23-year career that included service in Europe, Afghanistan, Korea, and Vietnam. Gougelmann had returned to Saigon in the spring of 1975 — right after North Vietnam launched a major offensive — to try to secure exit visas for loved ones. After missing the final flight out of Saigon, he was captured and disappeared into a dank prison cell, where he was tortured because of his past affiliation with CIA.
Noting that Gougelmann joined CIA in 1949, McLaughlin said he was "part of the remarkable generation that first set the tone of daring and determination that — more than a half century later — still moves and motivates the men and women of the CIA."
"Through multiple tours of risk and fire, Tucker was everything his country, his Agency, and his colleagues could ever ask of a senior officer," McLaughlin said.
Describing Gougelmann as "a formidable foe of the communist guerrillas in the South and of their masters in the North," the DDCI added: "Time and again, he and those he led acquired the battlefield intelligence that saved American and South Vietnamese lives.
The decision to honor Gougelmann with a Memorial Star and place his name in the CIA's Book of Honor was made after Agency officials recently broadened the criteria for inclusion on the Memorial Wall. It was determined that although Gougelmann did not die in the line of duty while employed by CIA, his past affiliation with the Agency led to his death.