The idea for The Price of Vigilance evolved while I was researching the 528 shootdown incident, at the time of the creation of the Aerial Reconnaissance Memorial at the National Security Agency's National Vigilance Park. Because I sensed a deep yearning for details about the incident from family members whom I contacted, I resolved to document the shootdown and began to research and organize the facts. In January 1997, I located Robert Keefe, and we bonded immediately: We speak the same language on the shootdown tragedy; we're both former Air Force Russian linguists and airborne voice intercept operators; we had both served in the home unit of the men who perished aboard 60528. Keefe had flown recon missions with the lost crew in 1957-58 and participated in the search for 60528 subsequent to the shootdown. I flew airborne communications intelligence reconnaissance missions aboard the same fleet of C-130 aircraft in the 1960s and 1970s. Feeling deep sympathy for the families of the lost men, we vowed during the memorial dedication in 1997 to honor them and their families with this book.
I am deeply indebted to family members of the lost crew and to Air Force veterans who have made available much of the detailed information in the book, and who have shared anecdotes that add the human dimension to our story. I am especially grateful to Mark Simpson (son of copilot Captain John E. Simpson), Theresa Durkin (sister of recon airborne mission supervisor Master Sergeant George P. Petrochilos) and Raymond Kamps (brother of airborne voice intercept operator Airman Second Class Harold T. Kamps). They opened their hearts and shared their Air Force casualty correspondence files with me. Luke Mankins (father of airborne voice intercept operator Airman Second Class Clement O.
Mankins) wrote me a short helpful note about his son; a commendable effort by Mr. Mankins, who is 93 years old. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the multitude of relatives of all the family members I have located: You have graciously welcomed me into your families, and you are my friends for life.
Others meriting special mention include: Kenneth A. Minihan (Lt. Gen., USAF, ret.), Colonel Wyatt C. Cook (USAF), Thomas H. Tennant (CM.Sgt., USAF, ret.) and Luther A. Tarbox (Lt. Col., USAF, ret.). As Director of the National Security Agency, General Minihan took a bold, major step by creating the Aerial Reconnaissance Memorial, bringing closure for family members during the memorial dedication:
We are honored to host the family members of the reconnaissance crew who were shot down over Armenia September 2, 1958. . . . And we want to publicly acknowledge to the families and to the nation that we will never forget their sacrifice.
I credit Colonel Cook--at the time, commander of the Air Force Air Intelligence Agency's 694th Intelligence Group--with marshalling the resources that made it possible to develop National Vigilance Park and the Aerial Reconnaissance Memorial. Our story would be incomplete without coverage of the recognition that the memorial and dedication ceremony brought to 60528's lost crew and their families.
Tom Tennant, a close personal friend, was serving as an airborne voice intercept operator in the squadron with the eleven recon crew members when their plane was shot down. I am deeply indebted to him for using his phenomenal recall to provide, authenticate and elaborate on names, dates, locations and unique events that occurred more than 40 years ago. He also served as my sounding board during the research and development of this book.
As operations officer of the Air Force Security Service squadron to which the eleven recon crew members were assigned (and as acting commander when the tragedy struck), Luther Tarbox was intimately involved in all aspects of European airborne communications intelligence reconnaissance operations during 1957-1960 and has provided me with meticulous detail on airborne operations during that era. His assistance and technical inputs have been invaluable in re-creating events surrounding the shootdown and its aftermath.
Finally, I thank Eugene Willard, himself a former recon flyer. As a librarian in the Philadelphia Public Library, Gene helped me locate many significant related documents that I would not have uncovered otherwise.
Larry R. Tart
State College, Pennsylvania
October 24, 2000
I have little to add to what Larry has said, except one thing. Forty years ago, I felt it my duty to pay my condolences to the families of the men who died. Bureaucratic, largely senseless, security considerations prevented me and my friends from taking that simple human step, which seemed so natural, so necessary to me and to the others. This book has finally given me that chance.
Moreover, after nearly half a century, I feel that I finally have a reasonable understanding of just what happened and why it happened. A knowledge of history doesn't really heal anyone, but telling the truth--to others and to oneself--is nevertheless a human necessity. For me, for the men of our outfit, and I hope for the families of the men who died, this book is at the very least a large step in the direction of truth.
March 27, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Larry Tart and Robert Keefe