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News | Dec. 13, 2019

DIA remembers a Cold War hero

By Chris Van Dam, DIA Public Affairs

The Defense Intelligence Agency added another name to the Patriots Memorial wall – Nicholas George Shadrin. While it was not a name from recent history, it is one of great significance to the Agency.

Greg Elder, DIA chief historian, opened the ceremony with a tribute to Shadrin’s life as a young Soviet naval officer, explaining how Shadrin and his wife defected in 1959 while he was on duty in Poland. Elder then commemorated his service to the U.S. at the Office of Naval Intelligence, DIA and as a double agent working with the FBI, which led to his death at the hands of the KGB in Vienna in 1975.

“One thing about Nicholas that shined from the outset was his desire to always do more,” Elder stated. “He was not content to live quietly and draw a check. He sought out opportunities to provide the United States an advantage.”

Following Elder’s remarks, DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. highlighted the inherent danger Shadrin willingly entered to give the U.S. strategic advantage over the Soviet Union.

“Your husband was part of a rare and daring generation of public servants that worked in the shadows to preserve peace,” Ashley said to Shadrin’s widow Dr. Blanka Shadrin. “A generation defined by incredible sacrifice few outside this building could comprehend.” 

Ashley also honored Shadrin’s work as a naval expert, interpreter and analyst. 

“Nicholas made a ripple when he left Poland to seek asylum in the U.S.,” said Ashley. “This ripple grew into a current at ONI and DIA that swept aside the walls of oppression built by the USSR.”

Ashley concluded his remarks by referencing Elder’s earlier statement, challenging those in attendance to “not live quietly … but to have the courage to stand for what is right,” and that the Agency needs to do more to tell Shadrin’s story and highlight his contributions to the nation’s history.

Blanka Shadrin, who traveled from her McLean, Virginia residence, explained that she had been waiting for the day her husband would be recognized for his service to the country. She was thankful that DIA stepped up to do so.

Following the ceremony, those in attendance were able to speak to Shadrin about her husband’s service and her work getting it recognized. Among those who paid their respects were current and former DIA leaders as well as agents from the FBI.

More information about Nicholas Shadrin, his service and contributions, as well as information about other DIA patriots, can be found here.