While on a Pan American Airlines flight during a government business trip, W. Gordon Fink (ElecEngr’58), who had gotten to know the crew members pretty well, asked them, “So, who is on board that has you all excited?”
The answer was Ian Fleming, an English author and ex-Navy commander best remembered for creating James Bond.
Coincidentally, Gordon, who was on his way to the Mideast on a classified operation, had a weekend layover in Istanbul where the Bond cast was filming From Russia With Love. After chatting up Fleming aboard the flight, Gordon was invited to the cast party.
And that’s just one of many interesting stories he has of his time working for the National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration and Central Intelligence Agency.
Gordon attended CU on a Naval ROTC scholarship and commissioned, graduated and married within a 24-hour period in June 1958. He joined the National Security Agency as a naval officer and then as a civilian, getting his foot in the Bondesque world volunteering on cold cases in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, which eventually paved the way for him to join the NSA. He later served as assistant administrator of intelligence for the DEA from 1976 to 1982 and worked for the CIA from 1982 to 1986.
“Having been born in Nebraska and moving to Colorado at an early age, working for the federal government offered lots of changes and challenges,” Gordon says. It’s exciting and it really gives you a different perspective and understanding of how our government works, including the time and challenge it takes to make changes.”
Keeping personal and work lives separate was not hard, but traveling was tough, Gordon says. He traveled to over 120 countries, spending a fair amount of time away from his family. But he notes his situation was not any worse than anyone in military service.
Gordon retired from government service and serves as an independent consultant specializing in public safety and transportation. He still travels quite a bit but spends much of his time in Annapolis with his family, boating and taking advantage of the culture and arts the East Coast offers, he says.
As for From Russia With Love, Gordon says he still owns the movie and watches it from time to time. He says it’s a good movie with an interesting story line and elaborate stunts, but that it doesn’t do justice to agents’ day-to-day work.