Today, NSA Director, Lt Gen Michael V. Hayden, USAF, and RADM Joseph D. Burns, USN, Commander, Naval Security Group Command, hosted the dedication of a U.S. Navy EA-3B Skywarrior jet aircraft at National Vigilance Park. The aircraft, on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida, was dedicated to the memory of all U.S. Naval aircrews who perished while conducting secret reconnaissance missions around the world. Today's dedication was attended by family, friends, former shipmates, and distinguished guests.
The U.S. Navy's contribution to National Vigilance Park bears the markings of an EA-3B aircraft, Ranger 12, assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2). The original aircraft was lost during an operational mission in the Mediterranean on 25 January 1987 while attempting a landing on the USS Nimitz. All seven crewmembers aboard Ranger 12 perished:
- LT Stephen H. Batchelder
- LCDR Ronald R. Callander
- AT2 Richard A. Herzing
- LT Alan A. Levine
- CTI3 Patrick R. Price
- LT James D. Richards
- CTI3 Craig H. Rudolf
National Vigilance Park was established to commemorate the service and sacrifices made by Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine electronic reconnaissance aircrews during the Cold War, particularly those personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom. Their unsung, heroic missions helped protect the United States, as well as the free world, and maintain world peace. The park, which was dedicated in September 1997, currently contains an Air Force RC-130 and an Army RU-8D, both of which were used by their respective services to conduct electronic reconnaissance missions.
Additional information regarding the EA-3B and National Vigilance Park can be viewed on the NSA Website at /about/cryptologic_heritage/vigilance_park/.