One of the things the US Intelligence Community does is to collect biographical data on individuals, both enemies and allies. It’s no big secret; all countries do it. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) where I worked had a big hand in this since we had offices around the world.
Bio data is important to understanding how people think, what they value, how they make decisions, and what makes them vulnerable. It also helps to know what buttons to push to effect action in your favor.
I’ll use this Insight as an occasion to share some info about me and my ancestry. We trace our roots to Ireland, with my great-great-grandfather, Michael Angley, the first to immigrate from Ireland to the United States in the 1850s.
After arriving in New York, he made his way to Connecticut where he worked on a farm. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union and fought in several important and historic battles: Gettysburg, Antietam, and Petersburg.
He served under Generals Grant (yes, that one), McClellan, and Meade. He was wounded twice, captured by the Confederates, and imprisoned in Richmond, VA until the end of the war. Once released, he made his way to northeastern Pennsylvania, first working in the coal mines and then as a town supervisor in a small town called Pringle.
He was in charge of the roads commission and, according to this account of his life in his obituary, he wasn’t shy about going out and getting his hands dirty by working with the road crews he supervised.
I like to think that aspect of his character transferred down to me. I have always been a roll-up-the-sleeves kind of supervisor and Commander. I enjoy the gumshoe work of law enforcement and it wasn’t uncommon for me to show up at crime scenes and begin processing evidence with the troops even as a senior officer.
He died at the ripe old age of 88, long before I was born. My dad used to tell me stories about him that were passed down by his dad. He said that when he worked for the coal mines, he was known to run with the Molly Maguires, a 19th century quasi-terror group that fought for coal miners rights, albeit oftentimes using violent means to achieve their ends. The Molly Maguires legacy I can do without, but I suppose I helped negate that by dedicating a portion of my life to counterterrorism and getting some bad guys off the streets.
I think I inherited the best from my great-great-grandfather: hard work, sense of service to country and community, leading by example, and strong family values.
Just a little insight into my background and one of the more colorful ancestors to whom I owe a great deal.
Most of all, I want to thank him for his service and his sacrifice and for being the hero I never really knew much about until now.