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RU-8D Dedication Ceremony

Image: RU-8 Line DrawingOn 12 May 1998 another chapter was added to the legacy of National Vigilance Park (NVP) when Lt Gen Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF, Director, NSA/Chief, CSS, dedicated an RU-8D U.S. Army aircraft, honoring those who served in the Army Airborne Intelligence program during the Cold War. General Minihan was joined in the dedication ceremony by keynote speaker LTG Claudia J. Kennedy, USA, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army, and Major General John D. Thomas, Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. The Army's RU-8 joins the Air Force's C-130 at the NVP, which was dedicated in September 1997.

The RU-8 aircraft was the Army version of the Beechcraft "Twin Bonanza." The aircraft dedicated at the NVP was originally part of the 138th Radio Research Company (Aviation) and was actively involved in reconnaissance operations during the Vietnam War.

The RU-8 "Seminole" was first introduced into the Army's inventory during the Korean War. The twin-engine aircraft was used for transportation of commanders and staff officers. The Army Security Agency (ASA) first used the plane as an airborne direction-finding platform in Vietnam in January 1963. For the first time, the 3rd Radio Research Unit had an "all-weather" capability. With its ability to carry five passengers, the plane had enough room for navigational equipment. Unlike in the U-6, a crew would no longer be dependent upon visual landmarks to conduct operations. The RU-8D was one of the most flexible and efficient aircraft in ASA's inventory. Because it could operate in mountainous regions, obtain greater altitudes, and offer increased speeds, the RU-8D quickly became the workhorse in ASA's airborne direction-finding effort in Vietnam. They were among the last platforms to leave Vietnam and continued operating until the cease-fire on 28 January 1973. Three U.S. Army crews made the ultimate sacrifice while flying signals intelligence aerial reconnaissance missions under enemy fire. Thirteen U.S. Army personnel were lost in Southeast Asia: seven were U. S. Army Security Agency intercept operators and six were flight crew personnel.


Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Reviewed: Jan 15, 2009