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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Recon Escort: 1960

Recon Escort: 1960

August 4, 1960. "Family and mourners at the Arlington National Cemetery burial of Willard G. Palm, RB-47 reconnaissance airplane pilot shot down by the Russians." Photo by John T. Bledsoe, U.S. News & World Report. View full size.

Freeman B. Olmstead

When I was in college, I became acquainted with one of the survivors of that doomed RB-47 flight: Col. Freeman B. Olmstead. In the 1970s, he led the Air Force ROTC program at Kent State University in Ohio. I was a cub reporter at the student newspaper and was assigned to cover ROTC. Col. Olmstead was quite friendly and we had several interesting conversations in his office at Rockwell Hall. He didn't mention the RB-47 incident or his months as a prisoner of the Russians until one of the ROTC cadets tipped me off about it. Then Col. Olmstead told me the story and I wrote it up for the newspaper. He was greatly respected by the cadets. I liked him, too.

Sad As It Is

The Russians had every right to do so. I mean: what would we do with a Russian "spy plane" in our airspace?

[The plane was not in Soviet airspace. - Dave]

Maj. Palm

Coming from a military family, myself, this one really caught my eye. I'm not finding a lot about Maj. Palm, other than about the incident which took his life. He was a WWII veteran, and that his home of record was Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

TRHalfhill, thanks for sharing your experience with Col. Olmstead! I'm glad to hear that he not only survived, but stayed in and finished his career.

This is an example of how tense things were during the Cold War. The Soviet pilot who shot the plane down admitted that it was over international air space at the time, but that he thought they intended to continue into Soviet air space.

Another tragic aspect of the event was that two of the crew members remain MIA.

 
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