In the final months of World War II, army geodesist Floyd W. Hough led a special unit of two dozen men and women into Germany to search for Axis maps of the Pacific and related optical and photogrammetric equipment. According to Life Magazine in the 1950s, Hough’s “cloak and dagger” team “swooped down on German universities and institutes, scooped up all the maps and geodetic survey information in sight, converted them quickly to the U.S. military map system and handed their findings to the artillerymen. The gunners’ aim improved immediately.”
In the spring of 1945, Hough and his team captured ninety tons of geodetic materials hidden in a secret warehouse in Saalfeld, including military maps and geodetic data that the Germans had captured from the Red Army. During the Cold War, the captured photographs, documents, and maps provided the basis for US intelligence concerning Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
Following the war, Hough headed up the Geodetic Division of the Army Map Service – a heritage organization of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Hough was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Exceptional Civilian Service Award, the U.S. Army’s highest civilian employee award.