Several individual efforts to honor those seventeen lost airmen have paid off with the 694th IG'sauthorization to create a memorial adjacent to the NSA, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. The memorial will consist of a C-130 aircraft bearing tail #60528 -- on display in an air park setting and a memorial display in the co-located National Cryptologic Museum. The C-130 exterior is being refinished in 60528's original C-130A-II fit and form so that it will look identical to 60528 on the date that it was shot down. A supporting display in the Museum will contain related artifacts.
A memorial dedication with full military honors and in the presence of family members of the lost crew will occur on September 2, 1997 -- the 39th anniversary of the shoot down. The 694th IG and NSA have responsibility for creating the memorial, inviting guests and conducting the dedication. As a volunteer, I am assisting the memorial committee wherever assistance is needed.
So, what do we know about the shoot down? Of all Cold War air incidents involving the Soviets, the shoot down of 60528 is one of the most controversial. Four Soviet MiG pilots took turns firing on the unarmed transport. Unlike other incidents where American aircraft were lost over water, 60528 crashed on Soviet soil. Not wanting to reveal the nature of 60528's mission, the U.S. Government did not confront the Soviets until September 6 when the Soviets denied all knowledge of the incident. They stated on September 12 that they had found a destroyed airplane, and based on discovered remains, "it may be assumed that six crewmen perished." In response to a U.S. demand for information about eleven missing crew members, the Soviets stated on 19 September that "no other information on crew members is at the disposal of the Soviet side." A status quo ensued and the Soviets provided no additional information on the eleven missing airmen for over 30 years. Finally in 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin began releasing "available" information on the shoot down.
The main source of new data is a joint American/Russian commission on MIA/POW issues formed in 1992. Through that commission the Russians have released from Soviet Air Defense Command (PVO) archives several declassified reports on the 60528 shoot down. In a detailed investigative report dated Sept. 4, 1958 from Armenia to the Kremlin, the Soviet commanding general in Armenia told the Soviet leadership how MiGs intercepted and shot down the C-130. The Soviet report identified the crashed aircraft as a C-130, tail number 60528. A plate on the aircraft indicated that it was assigned to the 7406th Support Squadron.
The field report described the air engagement and named the four participating MiG pilots. The report also included MiG gun-camera activated photos showing 60528 in the MiGs' gunsights, with smoke streaming from its engines immediately before the crash. A forensic report verified the number of human remains (six) and noted that other remains may have been present but that intensity of the ensuing fire prevented identification of additional remains. No one was seen parachuting from the C-130. The report concludes that wreckage photos suggest that no one on board could have survived. I recently interviewed an Armenian witness who reached the same conclusion. In all probability all seventeen airmen aboard the C-130 died immediately upon impact. In 1993, local villagers created an Armenian memorial at the crash site honoring the seventeen Americans who perished in the crash.
The Soviets recovered a set of TDY orders for the 7406th flight crew, a .45 caliber pistol, some ID cards, ID tags and money (German, Dutch, Turkish and American currencies). In 1993, a U.S. Army graves excavation team recovered at the crash site an ID "dog" tag that belonged to A2C Archie Bourg, an USAFSS airborne maintenance technician aboard 60528 when it crashed.
The Soviets returned the bodies of six U. S. airmen in September 1958. Four of the bodies were identified and turned over to their families for burial according to the wishes of their next of kin. The bodies of the two unidentified airmen were buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors in February 1959. Having exhumed the two unidentified bodies to perform DNA testing, the Air Force recently determined that one of the bodies was A2C Bourg. On 2 April 1997 in the presence of his family, A2C Archie Bourg was re-interred at Arlington Cemetery following a solemn, emotional funeral. I attended the ceremonies and met with Archie's family.
Research on the shoot down continues. I'll see you at the memorial dedication at Fort Meade, Maryland on September 2, 1997.
REDUCED RATE MOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS: For those needing motel accommodations, I've arranged reduced-rate rooms at the Holiday Inn, Laurel, MD, or attendees can make their own arrangements. Persons interested in staying at the Holiday Inn in Laurel (only three miles from Fort Meade) can contact the motel directly at 1 800 477-7410. To receive the reduced room-rate, make your reservation NLT Aug 1, 1997 and inform the reservations clerk that you are with the C-130 Memorial group.
SOCIAL GATHERING: Det 1, 6911th RGM/6916th SS (USAFSS recon crew) and 7406th SS (USAFE flight crew) alumni are holding a joint "social" on Sunday, August 31, 1997 to renew old acquaintances. The point of contact is Larry Tart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Larry Tart served with USAFSS for 21 years -- retiring in 1977. He flew recon missions aboard C-130 and RC-135 aircraft between 1967 - 1976. To contact him, please call (814) 238-7067 or send email to: LarryTart@aol.com.
While a number of you have contributed to the Memorialization effort, we have only begun to raise the dollars needed. We stand at about 2% of the estimated cost of helping the crew's families get to Ft. Meade on September 2nd and being able to fund those items that can't be covered by other sources. PLEASE take a minute to read this and then drop a check in the mail to the:
Donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE and 100% of your donation will support the National Vigilance Park memorial--there are no hidden costs or user fees associated with the Intelligence Reconnaissance Fund under which tax exempt status is maintained.
Thanks for your help,
President, FTV Association