SPEECH | Sept. 2, 2008

National Vigilance Park 50th Anniversary Memorial Service

I would like to add my thanks to Colonel Stauffer - glad to see everyone here today for this ceremony. I would like to add a special welcome to the members of the Prop Wash Gang, who are here to help us commemorate the 50th anniversary of the shoot-down.

The men who flew aboard this C130A could not tell their families what they were working on - it was nearly 40 years later that that information was declassified and able to be shared with the families.

This was a vital mission, at a time when we were locked in a battle with the former Soviet Union. Aerial reconnaissance in an area that was off-limits gave us important information that we could not have obtained via other methods at that time.

The C-130 mission lost that day was the first ever lost to hostile fire.

Former Director Lt Gen Minihan tasked the 694th IG Commander, Col. Cook, to acquire the plane you see before you, which has become the foundation of our memorial.

I was proud to fly in the formation that flew over the ceremony on 2 September 1997.

This park and memorial symbolizes the service and sacrifice of all U.S. military members lost during the Cold War while conducting aerial reconnaissance.

The backdrop is symbolic as well - the 18 trees stand for the 18 aircraft lost during the Cold War - 12 Air Force, 4 Navy, and 2 Army airframes. There are several markers around the plane that tell the story of the mission.

Items that were generously donated are now on permanent display at the National Cryptologic museum, including a metal fragment and a piece of parachute canopy retrieved from the crash site.

The National Security Agency is grateful for the work that all reconnaissance men and women perform in service to their country. We could not do our work without their critical input.