After six decades, the communities of Rosman and Balsam Grove are finally learning the truth about the large, mysterious satellite dishes that operate in their neighborhood behind a gated chain-link fence. Craig Gralley’s new book, “PARI: An Untold History of Spacemen and Spies,” reveals the secret past of PARI—a facility buried deep in the mountains of western North Carolina, whose very existence was denied for decades by the U.S. government. Gralley charts the Rosman site’s proud history and through personal stories and declassified government documents tells how its employees helped to win the space race, the Cold War, and are now embarked on a critically important new mission: science education. All author profits are being donated to further PARI’s science education programs.
Craig Gralley, a former CIA senior executive, served as an analyst, manager and chief speechwriter for three agency directors. He’s now a freelance writer and author of “Hall of Mirrors—Virginia Hall: America’s Greatest Spy of WWII,” a Kirkus Reviews “Best Book.” Craig’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, World War II Magazine, Elan and The Sun among others. He graduated with honors from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and holds master’s degrees from Georgetown University (government) and Johns Hopkins University (writing). For more information about Craig and his work, visit: www.craiggralley.com
“The Day the Russians Came to PARI”
During Rosman’s DoD years, the site was off-limits to Soviet, then Russian diplomats and military officials. But after PARI took over in 1998, the facility was opened up once again for domestic and foreign visitors. A former PARI employee offered the following story:
One day in 2003, I got a call from a professor from Brevard College. Some Russian scientists were coming through town on a tour arranged by the Library of Congress, and he asked, “Would you mind if they came to visit PARI?” I said, “Sure, bring them in.”
There were about thirty Russians and two interpreters. We showed them around, gave them an overview of our STEM education program and played our PARI video. When we finished, I asked if they had any questions.
One man stood up and began speaking Russian. Now, I don’t speak Russian, but it was clear that the longer he went on, the more agitated he became. After he stopped, the interpreter put her head down and shook it from side to side. In a low voice she said, “I’m sorry to say this but this man claims what you’re saying is all a big lie and that you are still spying on Russia from this location.”
“Well,” I said, “there’s nothing I can say to convince him otherwise, so I won’t even try.”
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