LeRoy Krsiean

LeRoy Krsiean

  • Fact: U.S. Army 1962-1965
  • Fact: Central Intelligence Agency 1969-1999
  • Fact: To go here...

Written by Sue Tone

In 1962, LeRoy Krsiean graduated high school and sought escape from his rural farming roots in Minnesota by enlisting in the U.S. Army at age 17. He trained as a Morse code intercept operator and spent two years stationed in Japan. After his discharge, he earned a bachelor’s degree in geography, minoring in history and German language, then began a 30-year career with the CIA.

Krsiean’s first ten years as a communication officer took him to Athens, Cairo, Saigon and Moscow during the Cold War. He and his wife were stationed in Vietnam in 1974-1975 as the North Vietnamese moved south in the final days of the war. His wife flew out two weeks before Saigon fell. Krsiean found room on the last fixed-wing aircraft to leave the city. It was filled over capacity with people sitting on laps and toboggan-style in the aisle. He had only his FLAK jacket with him and sat on it because people on the ground were shooting at the airplanes. Tanks from both sides fired at each other at the end of the runway. The plane managed to take off and fly to Hong Kong.

Krsiean said it took some time to shake the feeling of being threatened all the time, particularly with motorcycle traffic. In Saigon, people on motorcycles would throw hand grenades at anyone looking Western.

In 1978, he entered the field of imagery analysis for the next 20 years, and retired in 1999.

“I miss the agency and the weapons inspection, and being diplomatic with people who used to be your enemy,” Krsiean said. “With the CIA, you can be as good as you want to be. I did rather well.”

LeRoy Krsiean, photographed by Bruce Roscoe