DENVER — Born in St. Louis, Nancy Tipton was attending university when she heard the news about Pearl Harbor.
“It did not sink in right away, I think we went to a movie after that,” she said.
The United States was at war. In 1944, Tipton was recruited by the U.S. Army into the Signal Corps.
“I had to pass a test and I had to have two references,” she said.
The Army had special plans for Tipton. She remained a civilian, was given paper and pencil, and told her she was a cryptographer.
Her first order?
“They said you cannot open your mouth and tell anybody what you were doing,” she said.
She didn’t. Up until five years ago, what Tipton did for the Army was considered classified, top secret.
“We were supposed to say we were stenographers or secretaries or something like that,” she said.
Tipton was never told why she was doing what she did.
“I just slid numbers and letters and tried to get a match,” she said.
She did it well, and so did the women she worked with. She is in the current New York Times best-selling book, “Code Girls: The Story of American Women Code Breakers of World War II.”
Tipton reads one chapter’s headline, “Pencil Pushing Mamas SINK the Shipping of Japan.”
The fact is what Tipton did was help break the Japanese military code, ensuring an Allied victory.