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Subject: ARCHIVE: October 27, 1962 ~U.S. Air Force Officer RUDOLF ANDERSON Jr became the ONLY casualty of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, shot down while flying over Cuba. A senior pilot with over 3,000 hours flying time at the time of the Crisis, he served in the Korean War as a reconnaissance pilot and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, killed at 35. ...
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Date Posted:Tuesday, October 27, 12:25:23pm
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 fatality
by enemy fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Anderson died
when his U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down over Cuba. ...
Rudolf Anderson Jr.
(September 15, 1927 – October 27, 1962)
Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Anderson earned the rank of Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 19. He graduated from
Greenville High School and earned a bachelor's degree from Clemson University in 1948 as a member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 770.
Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Anderson completed Primary and Advanced pilot training and received his U.S. Air Force aeronautical rating as a pilot. He began his operational career flying RF-86 Sabres and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses for reconnaissance missions during the Korean War. After qualifying on the U-2 on September 3, 1957, "he became the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing's top U-2 pilot with over one thousand hours, making him a vital part of the United States' reconnaissance operation over Cuba in late October of 1962."
Cuban Missile Crisis ...
Originally flown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Lockheed U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Cuba were taken over by the Air Force on October 14, 1962, using CIA U-2 aircraft that were repainted with USAF insignia. Anderson was part of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, headquartered at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. On October 15, when CIA analysts studied reconnaissance film from the first 4080th overflight, they found SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles. These pictures triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis.
On October 27, Anderson took off in a U-2F (AF Serial Number 56-6676, former CIA Article 343) from a forward operating location at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando, Florida. A few hours into his mission, he was shot down by a Soviet-supplied S-75 Dvina (NATO designation SA-2 Guideline) surface-to-air missile near Banes, Cuba. "The loss of the U-2 over Banes was probably caused by intercept by an SA-2 from the Banes site, or pilot hypoxia, with the former appearing more likely on the basis of present information," stated a CIA document dated 0200 hrs, October 28, 1962. Anderson was killed when shrapnel from the exploding proximity warhead punctured his pressure suit, causing it to decompress at high altitude.
On October 31, Acting United Nations Secretary-General U Thant returned from a visit with Premier Fidel Castro and announced
that Anderson was dead. His body was released by Cuba on Sunday, November 4, and he was buried in his hometown two days later. ...
...By order of President John F. Kennedy, Anderson was posthumously awarded the first Air Force Cross, as well as the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Cheney Award. On July 26, 2011, Anderson was inducted into the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Distinguished Alumni in a ceremony at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, officiated by Lieutenant General Allen G. Peck, Commander, Air University.
Although Anderson was the only combat death of the crisis, three reconnaissance-variant Boeing RB-47 Stratojets of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing crashed between September 27 and November 11, 1962, killing a total of 11 crewmembers. Seven more airmen died when a Boeing C-135B Stratolifter delivering ammunition to Naval Base Guantanamo Bay stalled and crashed on approach on October 23.
Air Force Cross citation ...
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Major Rudolf Anderson Jr., United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a U-2 airplane with the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Strategic Air Command (SAC), from 15 October 1962 to 27 October 1962. During this period of great national crisis, Major Anderson, flying an unescorted, unarmed aircraft, lost his life while participating in one of several aerial reconnaissance missions over Cuba. While executing these aerial missions, Major Anderson made photographs which provided the United States government with conclusive evidence of the introduction of long-range offensive missiles into Cuba and which materially assisted our leaders in charting the nation's military and diplomatic course. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Major Anderson reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
After his death ...
After the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, Anderson's body was returned to
the United States and interred in Greenville on November 6 at Woodlawn Memorial Park. ...
=A memorial to Anderson was erected in 1963 at Cleveland Park in Greenville. No surplus U-2 aircraft were available at the time,
so an F-86 Sabre like the ones he flew in Korea was used instead: North American YF-86H-1-NA Sabre, AF Ser. No. 52-1976.
=Memorial outside Anderson Hall. Laughlin AFB, Texas.
=The auditorium for the 47th Operations Group at Laughlin AFB, Texas, is named in his honor.
=The Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr. Squadron of the Arnold Air Society at Clemson University is named in his honor.
Some of the wreckage of Major Anderson's aircraft is on display in three museums in Cuba. One of the engine intakes is at the Museo de la Lucha contra Bandidos in Trinidad. The engine and portion of the tail assembly from the U-2F is at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. The right wing, a portion of the tail assembly, and front landing gear are at the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, or La Cabaña, Havana. The two latter groups of parts were previously displayed at the Museo del Aire, Havana.