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DIA Historians

The Historians is a video series focused on important people and events throughout DIA’s history. DIA historians Greg Elder, Paul Isakson, Lisa Temple and Orlando Pacheco give a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that help make DIA the agency it is today.

In episode one, Deck of Cards, historian Greg Elder takes you back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the creation of the playing cards to help troops identify the most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In episode two, True American Hero, historian Paul Isakson tells the story of Brig. Gen. Jon Reynolds, and DIA's involvement in his rescue from the Hanoi Hilton prison in Vietnam.

In episode three, DIA Historian Orlando Pacheco details the life and legacy of former DIA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson, a U.S. Army officer who is cited as the first to use the term "counterinsurgency."

In episode four, historian Greg Elder explores how DIA helped put a man on the moon. Also hear from some DIA officers as they describe their memories of the moon landing 50 years later.

In episode five, DIA Chief Historian Greg Elder examines DIA's exploitation of the Soviet Union's MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor.

In episode six, historian Lisa Temple tells the story of Operation Babylift, the name given to the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. DIA played a vital role in the execution of the operation. 

Greg Elder is DIA's Chief Historian and the content manager for the DIA Museum. He has held many positions at DIA and at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Elder an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and a consultant for the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale."




As a historian and collections manager, Paul Isakson cares for DIA’s physical collection of historical artifacts, conducts oral interviews to preserve little-known stories, and shares defense intelligence history through tours. Isakson was recognized as the Navy’s first Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and in 2010 deployed to Iraq as the DIA transition manager.


Lisa’s passion for history began with a walk through the Civil War battlefields of Maryland and Virginia. A former Army Reservist, she believes in historic preservation through education, connections, and by highlighting lessons learned from the past to make a better tomorrow.


Beginning his career at DIA with the Academy for Defense Intelligence, Orlando Pacheco served as a Master Instructor examining lessons learned from historic intelligence failures from Pearl Harbor to 9/11.  As a historian for the agency, his research on DIA’s critical involvement in the Cuban Missile was a major contribution to the DIA Museum. Pacheco is a retired U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer whose assignments included Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England and Iraq.