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Former GPS World advisor Terence J. McGurn passes away

August 31, 2020  - By
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Terry McGurn

Terry McGurn

Terence James (Terry) McGurn, former GPS World Editorial Advisory Board member and long-time CIA analyst, died on Aug. 28 at the age of 84, according to an obituary in the Fairfax (Virginia) County Times.

After a long career in the CIA and U.S. government, McGurn served as a member of the GPS Independent Assessment Team and its successor, the National Space-Based Position, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board. The board provides independent advice to the National Executive Committee on GPS-related policy, planning, program management, and funding profiles in relation to the current state of national and international satellite navigation services.

McGurn also served as a member of the Independent Review Team sponsored by NASA, which bridged civil and military communities’ GPS issues. He also served on various ad hoc teams that address the criticality of satellite navigation to the nation’s military and civil infrastructure.

He was a member of the GPS World Editorial Advisory Board and was an active member of the Institute of Navigation. He served the CIA and the broader U.S. government until days before he passed away.

McGurn was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on Aug. 24, 1935. He grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and he graduated from St. Peter’s Preparatory School in 1953. He moved up his draft and served as a radio operator in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and then was discharged as an SP-3 in 1956.

He earned a bachelor’s and masters’ in electrical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and was Asst. Professor of Physics at NJIT, 1960-69. He earned his doctorate in Electrical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in 1969.

Terry spent his career at Central Intelligence Agency. A senior analyst and leader, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service (originally Senior Intelligence Service) where he advised generations of policy leaders and operational leaders of the capabilities of the navigation and positioning of the U.S .and of adversaries and other nations.

At the CIA, he developed and implemented methodologies that improved the intelligence community’s ability to assess the performance of foreign weapon systems. He also initiated outreach programs to provide the agency’s unique resources to the departments of Defense, State and Transportation in support of U.S. military, political and economic objectives.

As an expert on the strategic and tactical weapons systems and navigation, guidance and control technologies deployed by potential adversaries, he was able to provide guidance to policy makers regarding the defense of the homeland and of military installations around the world. He briefed at the SECDEF and National Security Council level for decades.

He retired in 2000, the recipient of the CIA Career Intelligence Medal, and numerous Exceptional Accomplishment and Exceptional Performance Awards.

As a consultant, he continued to work with CIA and other agencies in the government, including the DOD, State, the newly established Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation, providing technology and analysis for their diverse missions including security issues related to satellite and terrestrial navigation worldwide.

A long-time resident of Reston, McGurn passed away peacefully at Reston Hospital. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Reminiscences, condolences and photographs will be posted on this website in the coming months. Memorial donations can be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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