Honorary Life Member 001 Marshall Soghoian
Mr. Soghoian was born to Armenian refugees from Turkey and was raised in Hopewell, Va., and Richmond. His mother told The Post in 1973 that as a boy, he rebuilt radios, television sets and electronic circuits. After graduating from the University of Richmond, he started Research Instruments Corp. of Richmond and supplied sound systems to schools and installed closed-circuit television on the USS Forrestal. He told associates that he helped build the Armed Forces radio network in Europe after World War II. His family said he also built exotic radio communications for the Harris and Loral corporations and won numerous commendations for his work from the Pentagon. His most recent company, Page One Science Inc. of Alexandria, built the no-noise high-speed drills used by Navy Seals, his family said. He was recently involved in trying to solve the problem of improvised explosive devices for the military in Iraq. He was an electrical engineer whose work for the Zambian government landed him in the headlines in 1973 and 1974. Mr. Soghoian, who ran his own electronics firm, began working for Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda in 1969 after volunteering as an electronics expert with the United Citizens for Nixon-Agnew in the 1968 presidential campaign.
Introduced to Kaunda by a Washington public relations man who ran the Nixon committee, Mr. Soghoian obtained a contract to debug the Zambian presidential offices. He also told a colleague that his job was to set up a system for the Lusaka-based government to communicate with its overseas officials, complete with scrambling devices. He also was to provide a way to record, or bug, domestic government offices in Zambia, according to numerous articles in The Washington Post at the time. Purchasing the necessary electronics equipment, storing it in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Hyattsville and shipping it overseas in chartered planes meant that Mr. Soghoian handled large amounts of cash. He bragged to acquaintances that he had a $20 million budget for the work, and court affidavits said he annually bought $1 million worth of electronics for the South African nation. He was arrested by the FBI in 1973 and briefly jailed on charges of acting as an illegal foreign agent for Zambia. After the Commerce Department verified that he had the proper export permits for the equipment, Mr. Soghoian was indicted on charges of conspiracy and possession of oral communication interception devices. After a seven-month investigation, Mr. Soghoian pleaded guilty in 1974 to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to possess an illegal listening device. No other charges were brought against him.
He was a longtime Arlington County resident and he died of cancer at Powhatan Nursing Home at age 79.