When the Cold War was Hot

The Cold War wasn’t always cold and aircraft were lost to “enemy action”.

5 November 1957 A Republic of China Air Force B-26 Invader was shot down over the People’s Republic of China and the crew of three was captured. The crew was released eight months later.

24 December 1957 A US Air Force RB-57 was shot down over the Black Sea by Soviet fighters.

27 June 1958 A US Air Force C-118, reportedly on a regular supply flight from Wiesbaden West Germany to Karachi Pakistan, via Cyprus and Iran, crossed the Soviet border near Yerevan Armenia. Soviet MiG-17P Fresco pilots G.F. Svetlichnikov and B.F. Zakharov shot the aircraft down 30 km south of Yerevan. Five crew members parachuted to safety and four other survived the crash landing on a half-finished airstrip. The crew of Dale D. Brannon, Luther W. Lyles, Robert E. Crans, Bennie A. Shupe, James T. Kane, James N. Luther, James G. Holman, Earl H. Reamer and Peter N. Sabo were captured and later released by the Soviets on July 7, 1958. This aircraft was reported to be the personal aircraft of Allen Dulles, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The C-118 had carried senior CIA aides to Europe on an inspection trip, and it was in Turkey when it was diverted.

2 September 1958 A US Air Force C-130A Hercules (60-528) of the 7406 CSS, flying from Adana Turkey, was shot down near Sasnashen, Soviet Armenia, about 55 kilometers northwest of the Armenian capital of Yerevan by Soviet MiG-17 Fresco pilots Gavrilov, Ivanov, Kucheryaev and Viktor Lopatkov. The C-130 was a Sun Valley SIGINT aircraft. The remains of John E. Simpson, Rudy J. Swiestra, Edward J. Jeruss and Ricardo M. Vallareal were returned to the US on September 24, 1958. The remains of the other crew members, Paul E. Duncan, George P. Petrochilos, Arthur L. Mello, Leroy Price, Robert J. Oshinskie, Archie T. Bourg Jr., James E. Fergueson, Joel H. Fields, Harold T. Kamps, Gerald C. Maggiacomo, Clement O. Mankins, Gerald H. Medeiros and Robert H. Moore were recovered in 1998.

1 July 1960 A US Air Force ERB-47H Stratojet (53-4281) of the 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, flying over the Barents Sea was downed by Soviet pilot Vasili Poliakov, flying a MiG-15 Fagot. Co-pilot Bruce Olmstead and navigator John McKone survived and were taken captive. The pilot, Bill Palm and ELINT operators Eugene Posa, Oscar Goforth and Dean Phillips were killed. Olmstead and McKone were released from Soviet captivity on January 25th, 1961. Bill Palm’s remains were returned to the US on July 25, 1960. Eugene Posa’s remains were recovered by the Soviets, but never returned to the US.

10 March 1964 A US Air Force RB-66 Destroyer from the 10 TRW, based at Toul-Rosieres France, was shot down over East Germany by Soviet MiGs. The aircraft was shot down near Gardelegen, after straying out of one of the Berlin air corridors. The three crew members, David Holland, Melvin Kessler and Harold Welch parachuted to safety and were released several days later.

15 April 1969 While flying a patrol mission over the Sea of Japan, a US Navy EC-121M of VQ-1 (BuNo 135749) was attacked and shot down by two North Korean MiG-17 Fresco fighters 90 miles off the coast of Korea. All 31 crew members, James H. Overstreet, James L. Roach, John Dzema, John H. Potts, Dennis B. Gleason, Louis F. Balderman, Peter P. Perrottet, Richard H. Kincaid, John H. Singer, Dennis J. Horrigan, Robert F. Taylor, Frederick A. Randall, Robert J. Sykora, Stephen J. Tesmer, Norman E. Wilkerson, Hugh M. Lynch, Marshall H. McNamara, Gene K. Graham, Laverne A. Greiner, David M. Willis, Richard E. Smith, Gary R. Ducharme, Ballard F. Connors Jr., John A. Miller Jr., Stephen C. Chartier, Philip D. Sundby, Bernie J. Colgin, Richard Prindle, Timothy H. McNeil, Richard E. Sweeney and Joseph R. Ribar, were all killed in the attack. Two bodies and some wreckage was recovered by search vessels.

GARY POWERS

Rudolf Anderson Jr. (September 15, 1927 – October 27, 1962), was a pilot and commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and the first recipient of the Air Force Cross, the U.S. Air Force’s second-highest award for heroism. The only person killed by enemy fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Anderson died when his U-2 spy aircraft was shot down over Cuba.

Technical Sergeant John Chapman, USAF

Sixteen years after he sacrificed himself defending his team on a 10,000-foot peak known as Takur Ghar in Afghanistan, Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman has received the Medal of Honor. Valerie Nessel, the spouse of Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, received the posthumous award the Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 2018.

Chapman’s actions were recorded by a MQ-1 Predator.

CITATION TO
ACCOMPANY THE AWARD
OF
THE MEDAL OF HONOR
TO
TECHNICAL SERGEANT JOHN A. CHAPMAN

Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The Battle for Roberts Ridge

On May 4, 2002, the SEAL team’s task was to establish an outpost at the top of Takur Ghar, a mountain in southeast Afghanistan.

Due to delays, the helicopter carrying the team arrived to find al-Qaida forces waiting for them and took heavy fire.

During the assault, the Chinook took rocket-propelled grenade fire and Roberts was ejected. The helicopter crash-landed about four miles away.

Chapman soon began calling in airstrikes from AC-130 gunships circling overhead.

According to his Air Force Cross citation, Chapman “then directed the gunship to begin the search for the missing team member. He requested, coordinated, and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members.”

Chapman, who was in the helicopter that crash-landed, eventually returned on another Chinook with five SEALs to try to rescue Roberts on the hillside, which would become known as “Roberts Ridge.”

Tsgt John Chapman would engage and kill two enemy personnel and exchange fire with multiple fighters all around his position.

It was believed that Chapman died then on the mountainside. Drone footage later revealed he lived at least another hour.

Along with Chapman and Roberts, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Army Sgt. Bradley Crose, Army Sgt. Phillip Svitak, Army Spc. Marc Anderson and Army Cpl. Matthew Commons also died during the mission.

Senior Chief Britt K. Slabinski, leader of the SEAL team that day has had his Silver Star upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

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