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William Lewis Uanna
William Lewis Uanna
Born (1909-05-13)May 13, 1909
Died December 22, 1961(1961-12-22) (aged 52)
Place of birth Medford, Massachusetts
Place of death Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Place of Burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1941–1947
Rank gold maple leaf Major
Commands held 1st Technical Service Detachment

World War II:

Other work Central Intelligence Agency agent
Special assistant to the Secretary of Commerce
Chief of Division of Physical Security, Department of State

William Lewis "Bud" Uanna (May 13, 1909 – December 22, 1961) was a United States security expert. Uanna held many top security positions, including being a security officer on the Manhattan Project and Chief of the Division of Physical Security at the Department of State.

Uanna joined the Army in May 1941, and was commissioned in November 1942. Assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps, he served on the staff of I Service Command and the X Corps. In August 1943, he became an instructor at its school in Chicago, where he wrote a manual on physical security. He joined the Manhattan Project in late 1943, and in August 1944, was appointed Security Officer at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the Manhattan Project's largest sites. In February 1945, he assumed command of the 1st Technical Service Detachment, which was responsible for the security of 509th Composite Group, including its personnel, bases and equipment. After the he accompanied the Manhattan Project team sent to survey the damage done by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In 1947, he was chosen by the newly created Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to head its program to provide security clearances to its personnel, for which he named and developed the criteria for the Q clearance. He was an administrative officer at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1949 to 1951, and was the special assistant to the Secretary of Commerce. He was responsible for physical security at the State Department from 1953 until his death in Addis Ababa in 1961.

Early life[]

William Lewis Uanna was born in Medford, Massachusetts on May 13, 1909, the son of Italian immigrants Anthony Uanna and his wife Theresa née Ferullo,[1] he attended Medford High School. He entered Tufts College, where he was a halfback on the college football team,[2] and an intercollegiate wrestling champion.[3] He earned a degree in engineering, but soon returned to Tufts to get an M.A. in education, and became a teacher. He worked at this job for six months, teaching physics and mathematics in high school.[4]

Uanna entered Suffolk University, from which he received a law degree, and passed the bar exam, but then took a job as a with a surveying crew. He worked on a series of construction projects for the city of Medford and the state of Massachusetts, and was employed as a civilian by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the construction of Grenier Army Air Field in New Hampshire and Fort Devens in Massachusetts where he would later serve as an Army Counter Intelligence agent during World War II.[4]

Counter Intelligence Corps[]

Enlisting in the Army on May 28, 1941,[5] Uanna was assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps. His enlistment was supposed to be for one year, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 kept him in the war for the duration and beyond. In 1942 he attended the Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, and, on graduation in November 1942, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. He was assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) as Director of Operations of the I Service Command, responsible for 300 agents.[6]

In February 1943, Uanna was posted to the X Corps, then based at Sherman, Texas, as commander of its CIC detachment. As such, he was responsible for 112 officers and 35 agents, responsible for conducting investigations and evaluating individuals. At this time X Corps consisted of the 42nd, 84th, 86th, 88th and 104th Infantry Divisions. In August 1943, he became an instructor at the CIC school in Chicago, where he taught subjects such as fingerprinting and telephone tapping. At this time he wrote a manual on physical security used by CIC Agents. Some 1000 copies were printed and issued for distribution by the Provost Marshal General.[6]

Joining the Manhattan Project in late 1943, Uanna was initially assigned to the New England area, where he looked after security at 150 organizations, including key contractors Stone & Webster, General Electric, Westinghouse and American Cyanamid, and universities such as Harvard, Brown, Yale and MIT. In August 1944, he was appointed Security Officer for the large town and industrial installation built by the US Government at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to enrich uranium for an atomic bomb. As such, he oversaw the physical security of the site, and was responsible the security clearance of over 50,000 personnel. He supervised the activities of the town's police, and provided security for the transport of fissile materials from Oak Ridge to the weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico.[6]

In February 1945, Uanna assumed command of the 1st Technical Service Detachment, which was attached to the 509th Composite Group. He became responsible for the security clearance of its personnel, and oversaw the movement of the 509th from its training base in Wendover Army Air Field, Utah to Tinian Island in the Western Pacific. There, he was in charge of the physical security of its installations, and supervised the unloading and installation of its stores and equipment. He also looked after security at other bases that might be used by the 509th in an emergency. After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in and the subsequent surrender of Japan in August 1945, he accompanied the Manhattan Project team sent to survey the damage, spending four weeks in Nagasaki.[6]

Later life[]

Uanna returned to the United States in October 1945, and was discharged from the Army in April 1946. He returned to Boston, where he practiced law and engineering, but was recalled to active duty in October 1946 to conduct an investigation into reports that servicemen had tried to sell pictures of the atomic bomb to The Baltimore Sun. These turned out to be pictures of the dummy bombs used for drop tests.[4][6] In 1947, he was chosen by the newly created Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to head its program to provide security clearances to its personnel, a requirement of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.[6] At this time he named and developed the criteria for the AEC's Q clearance.[7] He then became second in command of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project's construction program, responsible for over $100 million of works.[4]

From 1949 to 1951, Uanna was an administrative officer at the newly created Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),[4] where wrote the briefing manual for the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC).[7] The OPC was the covert action branch of the intelligence community and at this time was overseen jointly by the State Department and the Department of Defense, rather than by the Director of Central Intelligence.[8]

From 1951 to 1953, during the Korean War, he was the special assistant to the Secretary of Commerce as Chief of the Facilities Protection Board, and was a staff member of the Industrial Evaluations Board. These Boards were overseen by the Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security (ICIS) and the National Security Resources Board (NSRB).[4][9] In 1953 he accepted a 90-day temporary assignment at the Department of State as assistant to Otto Otepka. Otepka was in charge of State's Evaluations Division. It was Uanna's expertise in countering subversion that landed him this position at the height of Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations of Communists and Communist sympathizers in the Army and State Department. Using procedures he developed at the AEC he wrote the Evaluators Handbook that would be used by State Department investigators to review the loyalty and "suitability" of State Department employees in accordance with Executive Order 10450 and Executive Order 10501.[9][10]

In 1953 the State Department's physical security was split between foreign and domestic branches. He reorganized these into one group and renamed it the Division of Physical Security. He was named as its new Chief. He then published a Protection of Dignitaries Manual and established the Marine Security Guard Training School. As Chief of the Division he was responsible for the security of all State's personnel and facilities in the United States and abroad including the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and later Christian Herter and all visiting foreign dignitaries. He was the State Department liaison with the U.S. Department of Defense. He was a participant in 1955 in Operation Alert, a civil defense drill in which U.S. Government officials were taken from Washington, D.C. to a relocation facility in rural Virginia. The aim was continuity of government in the event of a nuclear attack.[4][9][11] He handled security for the visits to the United States of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 1957, and of Nikita Khrushchev in 1959.[4]

Uanna died of a heart attack on the grounds of the American Embassy in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on December 22, 1961,[12] and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[13] His wife Bonnie née Leonard is deceased, he is survived by his son Steven Lee.[12] They never accepted that his death was from natural causes.[9]

In the media[]

Actor James Whitmore portrayed Unanna in the film Above and Beyond, Stephen Macht in Enola Gay: The Men, the Mission, the Atomic Bomb, and Minor Mustain in Hiroshima.[9]

External links[]


  1. "Uanna - Public Member Trees". Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  2. "Tufts Quarterback is Due back Today". October 18, 1932. p. 38. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  3. "NCAA 1931". NCAA. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Security is his Job - William Lewis Uanna". July 26, 1958. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  5. "William L Uanna". World War II U.S. Army Enlistments U.S. Army Enlistment Record. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Short Biographical Sketch of William Uanna". Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wellerstein, Alex (January 16, 2012). "Assassination as Non-Proliferation: Historical and Sociological Thoughts". Retrieved October 24. 2013. 
  8. Montague 1992, pp. 77-79.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Should We Be Alarmed by the Wide Use of Mercenaries?". History News Network. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  10. Hale, William Harlan (August 17, 1954). "Big Brother' in Foggy Bottom -". pp. 10–17. 
  11. Hove 2011, pp. 142-143.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "William Uanna, Security expert: Officer of US Embassy in Addis Ababa". December 23, 1961. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  13. Spencer 1998, p. 111.


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