The Letter

My brother Jim joined the Air Force in 1955 with two of his high school friends. Jim was called upon to study and complete a course in Serbo-Croatian language at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana. As he could not explain what his mission was to be, we had no idea what he was doing or the danger that it entailed.

Jim wrote us frequently telling us where he was. We had just gotten a letter where he said he was stationed at Darmstadt, Germany and was to be transferred to Rhein-Main Air base at Frankfurt, and was scheduled to leave for Adana, Turkey in the coming days. In this letter he told us that he would be flying on a C-130 cargo plane. Of course, he told us no other details of his obligations. The letter was put away with others he had written.

My father was quiet during supper time on September 3rd, 1958. We ate and then he looked at me and told me to get the last letter Jim had written. I got the letter, and he went into the living room and came back with the evening paper.

My father asked me to read the letter out loud. I thought this all to be very strange, yet the seriousness of the tone of my father’s voice made me believe it was extremely important. I read the letter and put it on the table and then waited for my father’s response.

Dad took the evening paper and began to read something I shall never forget. A
C-130 plane was reported missing on a flight from Adana, Turkey. The plane belonged to the 7406th support SQ based at Rhein-Main air base in Frankfurt, Germany.

Dad asked me again to read where Jim was and where he was going. I began, “He was transferred to Rhein-Main air base at Frankfurt and scheduled to leave for Adana, Turkey on a C-130.”

We couldn’t talk. We just sat as if we were frozen in time. Finally my dad broke the silence and said something like this, “When you think about the wars that we have had and the many, many young men who have lost their lives, we are no different than the hundreds of other families who have lost a loved one. All we can do now is pray and wait until we are officially notified as to what happened.”

We waited for a phone call that would give answers to the whereabouts of Jim. Four days went by and we finally received a long distance call. Expecting that it was the announcement of Jim’s death, dad answered with hesitation. On the other end came a voice that dad hadn’t expected. It was Jim. He told of how at the very last minute his friend replaced him on the C-130 mission. Jim did not have all the details of the plane at this time except it was missing along with seventeen crew members.

In the book, “The Price of Vigilance” by Larry Tart and Robert Keefe, the authors explain what happened during the attacks on American surveillance flights. Pictures were released by the Soviets showing the actual attack on the C-130.

A quote from the book:“C-130 60528 was the first American reconnaissance aircraft to crash on Soviet soil after being shot down by Soviet air defense forces.”

We don’t understand the things that happen. My brother lived, but seventeen of his friends died on September 2, 1958.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.