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NRO Honors Two Pioneers of National Reconnaissance

By Staff National Reconnaissance Office

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The National Reconnaissance Office honored Edward C. Mahen, Jr. and Carol A. Staubach as Pioneers of National Reconnaissance during a special heritage event at NRO Westfields on Jan. 15.

The Director of NRO, Dr. Christopher Scolese, delivered special remarks celebrating the 94th and 95th pioneers in joining an elite cadre of individuals who have defined the NRO since its beginning.

“The security of our Nation and Allies continues to benefit from the enduring contributions and revolutionary breakthroughs of our Pioneers, including today’s honorees,” said Scolese.

The award recognizes and honors individuals who have had significant and lasting influence on national reconnaissance, accomplishing relevant, innovative, pivotal, unique, and time-tested pioneering breakthroughs that have changed the direction and scope of the discipline and its practice.

"They are the real heroes of the field," said Scolese. “Their contributions extend beyond national reconnaissance and go well beyond where they’ve made their contributions.”

Mahen was recognized for the development of a revolutionary new reconnaissance satellite and supporting infrastructure that dramatically extended the capabilities of the NRO satellite constellation. He thanked the support of his teams and the organization. His contributions significantly enhanced and strengthened national security over the past decade.

Staubach was honored posthumously for modernizing the NRO’s SIGINT ground architecture. She overcame social, fiscal, international, and technical challenges, and her blueprint remains the NRO’s common integrated enterprise ground architecture.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire joined the NRO director in presenting commemorative plaques and coins to Mahen and Tom Staubach, accepting on behalf of his wife.

“What makes a pioneer is the ingenuity and the drive of the people,” said Tom Staubach. ”Thank you for confirming all those things we’ve known about Carol for all these years.”

The Pioneer Recognition Ceremony, held annually, formally inducts honorees into Pioneer Hall at NRO headquarters where commemorative medallions serve as enduring tributes to the pioneer’s trailblazing contributions to national reconnaissance.