Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro:
Director of Naval Intelligence
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro was the longest serving director of the United States Naval Intelligence, 1978-1982.
Shapiro was born on January 13, 1926, in Nashua, NH, where his parents were pharmacists. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, in 1949. He attended George Washington University and received a Master’s degree in International Affairs in the mid-1960s. He also graduated from the Naval War College and the U.S. Army’s Institute for Advanced Soviet and Eastern Studies.
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he began his career as a Surface Warfare Officer. Shapiro served in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. During the Korean War, he served at sea and was on the staff of the Commander Naval Forces Far East which was stationed in Japan.
Shapiro became an Intelligence Specialist Officer in 1956. He was attached to the Office of Naval Intelligence, at the Naval Security Group Headquarters. He was an Assistant Naval Attache in Moscow, 1963-1965, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, 1967-1969, Commanding Officer of NIPSSA, 1969-1972.
He was the senior intelligence officer for both the U.S. Atlantic Command and the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, 1972-1976. This dual assignment elevated him to the rank of Rear Admiral, in 1976. On August 15, 1978, Shapiro became the fifty-first Director of Naval Intelligence.
Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro received many decorations:
● The Navy Distinguished Service Medal
● National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal
● Legion of Merit
● Navy Commendation Medal
● With Sword, a Commander in the Brazilian Naval Order of Merit
● With Sword, an Officer in the French National Order of Merit
● Inducted in the U.S. Attach Hall of Fame, 1988
Admiral Shapiro was a Russian linguist and he was recognized as an authority on the former Soviet Union. He has extensively lectured and written on this subject.
In his private life after retirement, he was vice president for advanced planning of BDM International, a military research company. He formed a national security consulting company, which did work for national science laboratories.
Admiral Shapiro often expressed regret for his early handling of Jonathon Pollard, a Navy civilian, who, in 1985, pleaded guilty to espionage charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He felt that he should have fired him in the early stages of his espionage.
He was married to Eleanor Hymen for 57 years and they had three children. He died on November 14, 2006.
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