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11/24/2017 4:44:23 PM
11/22/2017 10:05:29 PM
Posted: 10/4/2004 9:17:40 PM EST
AF leaders honor Cold War era flyers

By Ms. Stacey Knott
55th Wing Public Affairs

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (ACCNS) -- It's been more than 43 years since their ordeal ended, but two 55th Wing Airmen were finally recognized for their heroism Sept. 13 in Washington, D.C.

Retired Colonels John McKone and Bruce Olmstead were awarded the Silver Star by Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. James Roche, and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. John Jumper, during the annual Air Force Association conference opening ceremony.

"I couldn't imagine a better venue," Secretary Roche said during the ceremony attended by hundreds of current and retired Airmen, Air Force civilians and defense contractors. "The men and women here today understand the awesome effects of air and space power; you also understand the omnipresent danger, even during peacetime."

Secretary Roche went on to say the security of the United States often depended on those who endured unspeakable hardship in silence and whose sacrifice occurred without public knowledge.

He called Colonels McKone and Olmstead quiet exemplars.

"Without speaking a word of their ordeal," Dr. Roche said, "they have lived our core values: integrity...service before self...excellence in all we do."

It was July 1, 1960. Two months prior, Air Force pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union during a reconnaissance mission. The Soviets labeled him a spy and were using the incident for every ounce of propaganda possible.

Then-Captains McKone and Olmstead were members of the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. During a routine mission north of Murmansk, Russia, a Soviet MiG fighter shot down their RB-47 over international waters in the Artic Ocean.

Three crewmates, Maj. Eugene Posa and Captains Oscar Goforth and Dean Phillips died in the shoot-down. Another crewmate, Maj. Willard Palm, succumbed to the icy artic waters after ejecting from the aircraft.

Colonels McKone and Olmstead also ejected, and after six grueling hours in one-person dingys were picked up by a Russian fishing boat, and sent to Moscow. The Russians imprisoned them in solitary confinement at the infamous Lubyanka KGB prison and accused them of espionage.

The colonels managed to resist all Soviet efforts to obtain confessions through interrogations, trickery and threats of death. After 208 days, they were unexpectedly released to the American Embassy Jan. 25, 1961 on the condition the U.S. government wouldn't use the occasion for any
propaganda purposes of its own. This prevented the award of any decorations to the crew at the time.

"Today there is no more Soviet Union due in large part to the sacrifice of Airmen like Colonels McKone and Olmstead, Majors Palm and Posa, and Captains Phillips and Goforth," Dr. Roche said during the ceremony. "We no longer need to be circumspect in recognizing the tremendous valor
exhibited by these two men and their crewmates."

"I'm extremely honored and feel rather humbled to receive such an award," Colonel McKone said after the ceremony. "It's just wonderful to be recognized by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and I just feel very humbled."

During their imprisonment, both men dealt with hunger, lack of sleep, constant interrogations and, in the case of Colonel Olmstead, constant physical pain from a broken back suffered while ejecting. Both men said unequivocally that if they had it all to do again, they would absolutely
do it.

"I felt very strongly about the mission then, and I do today," Colonel McKone said. "I think it's extremely important and vital to our country's national defense."

Colonel Olmstead said he thought there weren't many commanders today who would go to war without the 55th Wing.

"This was a tremendous honor," Colonel Olmstead said. "Actually though, it was more about the 55th Wing than it was about me or Colonel McKone.

They've been in business a long time and are in business even as we speak here today. I'm proud of all those people and I'll wear this medal proudly in their honor."

http://www2.acc.af.mil/accnews/Sept04/0143.html

More info can be found here:
www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/coldwar/cw6.htm


RB-47H
Link Posted: 10/4/2004 10:39:43 PM EST
Unsung heroes, all.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 3:08:16 AM EST

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
Unsung heroes, all.



And a beautiful airplane. Influential design, too. Large jet, swept wings, engines podded beneath the wings. The forerunner to 90% of the large jetliners out there.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 3:52:59 AM EST
Commie bastards.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 6:20:05 AM EST

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
Unsung heroes, all.



And a beautiful airplane. Influential design, too. Large jet, swept wings, engines podded beneath the wings. The forerunner to 90% of the large jetliners out there.



Yep, one of the unheralded designs of all time.

Wonder why it took +15 years to award the medals, that's how long the SU has been dead.

Merlin
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 8:58:36 AM EST
bump
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 9:47:18 AM EST
Thanks for the article KA3B.

It's great these men are finally getting the recognition they deserve.


I've always loved the B-47. Had a model as a kid. Damn sexy airplane.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 10:16:39 AM EST

Originally Posted By Merlin:

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
Unsung heroes, all.



And a beautiful airplane. Influential design, too. Large jet, swept wings, engines podded beneath the wings. The forerunner to 90% of the large jetliners out there.



Yep, one of the unheralded designs of all time.

Wonder why it took +15 years to award the medals, that's how long the SU has been dead.

Merlin



Probably been so long that noone remembered it.


Originally Posted By raven:
Commie bastards.



+1
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 1:47:56 PM EST
There is a lot of shit that happened "over the years" that is still classified.
Heck, even a very small player in the grand scheme of things might still have a few secrets stowed away....



Originally Posted By Merlin:
Wonder why it took +15 years to award the medals, that's how long the SU has been dead.
Merlin

Link Posted: 10/6/2004 3:02:32 AM EST

That's a hell of a story.

Link Posted: 10/6/2004 3:35:47 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2004 3:37:18 AM EST by vito113]

Originally Posted By KA3B:
There is a lot of shit that happened "over the years" that is still classified.
Heck, even a very small player in the grand scheme of things might still have a few secrets stowed away....

]



This is very true… the 'Cold War' got very 'hot' at times and a lot of US/British aircraft were lost or damaged… IIRC well over 50. Many of the crews shot down over soviet territory may have survived but have never been returned.

A number of missions flown by USAF RB-45 recon planes over soviet airspace in the 50's were manned by RAF crews as it was deemed less likely to cause a major confrontation if RAF aircrews were captured. The RAF subsequenty used modified high altitude versions of the Canberra bomber that could reach 65,000+ feet throughout the 50's and 60's in Soviet overflights. This design was bought by the USAF and produced in America as the RB-57.



www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/baugher_us/b045-05.html

Andy
Link Posted: 10/6/2004 3:43:57 AM EST

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By KA3B:
There is a lot of shit that happened "over the years" that is still classified.
Heck, even a very small player in the grand scheme of things might still have a few secrets stowed away....

]



This is very true… the 'Cold War' got very 'hot' at times and a lot of US/British aircraft were lost or damaged… IIRC well over 50. Many of the crews shot down over soviet territory may have survived but have never been returned.

A number of missions flown by USAF RB-45 recon planes over soviet airspace in the 50's were manned by RAF crews as it was deemed less likely to cause a major confrontation if RAF aircrews were captured. The RAF subsequenty used modified high altitude versions of the Canberra bomber that could reach 65,000+ feet throughout the 50's and 60's in Soviet overflights. This design was bought by the USAF and produced in America as the RB-57.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v133/macandy/RB57.jpg

www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/baugher_us/b045-05.html

Andy



Jeez, look at the wing area on that thing. Looks like they doubled the square footage over the bomber version.
Link Posted: 10/6/2004 4:10:15 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2004 4:10:58 AM EST by vito113]

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By KA3B:



Jeez, look at the wing area on that thing. Looks like they doubled the square footage over the bomber version.



Pretty much! here is a picture of a NASA RB-57 parked by a C-130!



Andy
Link Posted: 10/6/2004 10:37:52 AM EST

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By KA3B:



Jeez, look at the wing area on that thing. Looks like they doubled the square footage over the bomber version.



Pretty much! here is a picture of a NASA RB-57 parked by a C-130!

img.photobucket.com/albums/v133/macandy/nasaairplane.jpg

Andy



What a wild looking airplane! Thanks for the pics! They still fly those things or did they replace it with U2 variants? Two engines and two crew, looks a bit safer.
Link Posted: 10/6/2004 12:39:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2004 12:42:34 PM EST by vito113]

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jeepster:

Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By KA3B:



Jeez, look at the wing area on that thing. Looks like they doubled the square footage over the bomber version.



Pretty much! here is a picture of a NASA RB-57 parked by a C-130!

img.photobucket.com/albums/v133/macandy/nasaairplane.jpg

Andy



What a wild looking airplane! Thanks for the pics! They still fly those things or did they replace it with U2 variants? Two engines and two crew, looks a bit safer.



They operated alongside the U-2 in the 50's & 60's, possibly into the 70's IIRC… a number were lost over 'hostile' territory.

I believe the Airforce no longer flies them, but NASA still flies two… you can find all about them and download an excellent brochure on the planes at this link…

jsc-aircraft-ops.jsc.nasa.gov/wb57/brochure.html

ANdy
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