Ralph Canine

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Ralph J. Canine
Ralph Canine, official military portrait.jpg
Ralph Canine
Born(1895-11-09)November 9, 1895
Flora, Indiana
DiedMarch 8, 1969(1969-03-08) (aged 73)
Washington, D.C.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1917–1957
RankUS-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant general
UnitThird United States Army
Commands held1st Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Other workNational Security Agency Director

Ralph Julian Canine (November 9, 1895 – March 8, 1969)[1] was the first director of the United States' National Security Agency (NSA).


Canine was born in 1895 in Flora, Indiana, one of two children of the local superintendent of schools. When he left home he was intent on being a doctor, and had completed pre-med studies at Northwestern University when he entered World War I as an Army second lieutenant. He served in various combat posts in France, and elected to stay in the Army after the armistice was signed in 1918. The interwar period (1919–1941) was his education, when he traveled from one Army post to another, filling just about any job that was vacant. When World War II broke out, Canine was well fitted for responsibility. He became the chief of staff for the XII Corps, which served in George Patton's Third Army during its historic race across France in 1944. After the war he was rewarded with command of the First Infantry Division, one of the most prestigious of Army jobs.

At right, Canine becoming the first Director of the National Security Agency (1953)

In 1951 Canine became director of the Armed Forces Security Agency, which was America's first tentative step toward cryptologic unification. He was there long enough (one year) to see what the organization lacked. When President Truman created the NSA in 1952, Canine continued as its first director. He died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism in March 1969.


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Government offices
Preceded by
position created
Director of the National Security Agency
Succeeded by
John A. Samford