I wish to thank Dave Laney, CDR, USN(ret.) for supplying the following
article concerning the shoot down of VQ-1 WV-2 on April 15, 1969.
CDR Laney was a Plane Commander in VQ-1 at the time of the incident
and was personally involved with crew and family members.  His personal
letter to me is in the MAIL CALL, Box #2.

I also want to acknowledge Earles McCaul for the crew list at the bottom of
this article.  Further information concerning aircraft and crew members can
be found on his comprehensive web site covering his ongoing and exhaustive
study of the history of the "Willy Victors" and finding and listing of former
crew members on THE WILLY VICTOR ROSTER.

In memory of those shipmates who gave the ultimate sacrifice...
 

North Koreans Down
Navy Recon Plane
Pacific Stars and Stripes
Vol. 25, No. 106

Thursday, April, 17, 1969

WASHINGTON___   A U.S. Navy reconnaissance Plane with 31 men aboard was lost Tuesday (April 15, 1969) in the Far East and Communist North Korea claimed they shot it down "with a single shot at a high altitude."

The White House reportedly told congressional leaders that two MIG jets shot down the plane.

A massive search for the plane is under way in the Sea of Japan, 95 miles south of Ch'ongjin, North Korea.

The Pentagon said the aircraft had orders to  fly no closer than 50 nautical miles from the North Korean coast and that it actually was 90 miles at sea when heard from last.

It was identified as a version of the Air Force EC-121, four-engine, propeller driven craft loaded with sophisticated intelligence gathering equipment.

A North Korean radio broadcast said the plane intruded into North Korean airspace and was downed with one shot at high altitude, hinting an anti-aircraft missile may have been used.

President Nixon was informed of the incident by his national security advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger.  "The president will be kept informed of this matter throughout the day," a White House spokesman said.

The North Korean broadcast said the plane "was reconnoitering after intruding deep into the territorial air space of the northern half of the republic" when it was shot down.

Ch'ongjin is a port city in North Korea's northeast panhandle, only about 75 miles from China and 150 miles south of Vladivostok.


WASHINGTON AP___  A U.S. aircraft searching for the Navy
electronics plane which North Korea claims to have shot
down has sighted debris in the Sea of Japan, the Pentagon
reported Tuesday night.
"This debris could be associated with the missing aircraft,"
a Defense Department statement said.  "No survivors have
been reported."


The Pentagon said the plane took off from the U.S. Navy base at Atsugi, Japan and was last heard from about seven hours later.

The Defense Dept. statement said the pilot was under orders to approach no closer than 50 nautical miles from the North Korean coast.  The purpose of the mission was not disclosed.  The statement did not go beyond calling the plane a "reconnaissance aircraft."

The North Korean broadcast said the plane was downed at 1:30 PM local time Tuesday after a "grave provocation of infiltrating deep into the territorial air space of the republic."

The broadcast, monitored in Tokyo, said "the air force unit of our peoples' army ...scored a brilliant battle success of shooting it down with a single shot at a high altitude..."

The EC-121 is a 300 mph, unarmed aircraft carrying six tons of electronics equipment.  A bulbous dome on the top of the fuselage houses a special antenna.

The EC-121 crew included 30 Navy men and one enlisted Marine.

There were three 30 man life rafts aboard the plane and weather conditions were relatively favorable for rescue if the men survived.

Seas in the area were described as moderate with waves about four feet high. Air temperature was estimated at 42 to 48 degrees with the sea slightly warmer.

U.S. Senate leader, Everett M. Dirksen told a news conference there had been mention of possible survivors at a White House meeting.  He said legislative leaders were in formed that two ships, believed to be Russian, were moving toward the spot where the plane was downed.

Dirksen said the report was that the plane was shot down by two MIG fighters which had been sighted by radar, taking off about 30 minutes before the attack.

He said there was no discussion at the White House meeting of possible retaliation for the attack.

Two U.S. destroyers sailed through the Sea of Japan to join a search for possible survivors.

A U.S. Navy spokesman at Yokosuka, Naval Base said the USS Tucker and USS Dale were expected to reach the search area around 9 PM.

The Pentagon later said rescue aircraft reaching the scene ran search patterns and dropped flares during the night with little success.

A Pacific Stars and Stripes reporter at Tachikawa AB, Japan, reported that crew members of one of the search planes said they saw "dim lights" on the sea, but there was no confirmation of any survivors.

The Pentagon said the search operation was started by an HC-130 Hurcules plane, accompanied by a HC-135 Tanker, with "combat patrol" protection.  This, presumably,
meant a flight of jet fighters, in case the rescue force ran into Communist planes or vessels.

Other Aircraft from Tachikawa AB, Guam; Clark AB, Okinawa and Iwakuni MCAS in southern Japan were en route to the search area by daylight Wednesday.

The 5th Air Force Joint Rescue Coordination Center said a total of 26 aircraft were to be operating in the search by daylight.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. L Mendel Rivers, called for military retaliation against North Korea with "whatever is necessary."

If nuclear weapons are required, the South Carolina Democrat said, "let them have it.  It's time to give them what they ask for."

Rivers said the plane was "at least 90 miles off the shores of North Korea.  There was no violation of North Korean territory.  There was no hint of provocation."

Rivers said there is "no doubt" that all 31 men aboard the plane are dead.

"How long will we let a little insignificant Communist satellite push this nation to the point where we are being laughed at by the rest of the world?" Rivers asked.
 

14-APR-69
SQUADRON: FLEET AIRBORNE RECONNAISSANCE SQDN ONE (VQ-1)
AIRCRAFT: EC-121M, BuNo 135749, PR-21, "Deepsea Two One"
LOCATION: SE of Chongjin, North Korea.
EVENT: Shot down by two North Korean MIG fighters over the Sea of Japan.
LOSS: 31 of 31-man crew killed:
CREW: LCDR James H Overstreet
          LT John N Dzema
          LT Dennis B Gleason
          LT Peter P Perrottey
          LT John H Singer
          LT Robert F Taylor
          LTJG Joseph R Ribar
          LTJG Robert J Sykora
          LTJG Norman E. Wilkerson
          Louis F Balderman, ADR2
          Stephen C Chartier, AT1
          Bernie J Colgin, AT1
          Ballard F Connors, Jr, ADR1
          Gary R DuCharme, CT3
          Gene K Graham, ATN3
          LaVerne A Greiner, AEC
          Dennis J Horrigan, ATR2
          Richard H Kincaid, ATN2
          Marshall H McNamara, ADRC
          Timothy H McNeil, ATR2
          John A Miller, CT3
          John H Potts, CT1
          Richard T Prindle, AMS3
          Richard E Smith, CTC
          Philip D Sundby, CT3
          Richard E Sweeney, AT1
          Stephen J Tesmer, CT2
          David M Willis, ATN3
          Hugh M Lynch, SSGT, USMC
          Frederick A. Randall, CTC
          James Leroy Roach, AT1
 
 

Lost Plane a Pueblo-Type Spy
The Washington Post___Wednesday, April 16, 1969

By Richard Homan
Washington Post Staff Writer


  The U.S. navy plane missing off North Korea is an elaborately equipped eavesdropper and radar detector packed into the fuselage of a Lockheed Super Constellation passenger liner.
    The plane's radar, sticking out like big warts on the tope of the fuselage, pick up radar signals another nation uses to warn of an air attack.
    One of the plane's radar moves up and down to determine how high the beams extend.  Still others show the direction the radar is coming from so the radar site itself can be pinpointed.  And the radio frequency of the radar___a vital piece of information___is also picked up.
    Knowing the frequency of another nation's radar enables the U.S. to design jamming equipment to negate its effectiveness in wartime.
    The missing plane also carries antennas under its belly___presumably for picking up military radio communications.
    Such radio communications often indicate the state of readiness of another nation's military forces___and sometimes its future deployments.
    The USS Liberty, shot up by the Israelis in 1967, listened in on the Arab-Israeli War, and the USS Pueblo was seized by North Korea when trying to listen to North Korean radio and radar transmissions.
    The missing EC-121 also would try to pick up Soviet and Chinese communications during its long patrol.  It would be tempting to try to pick up information about Russian and Chinese fighting along the Ussuri River.
    The EC-121 is a modification of the commercial and troop carrier versions of the Super Constellation, which flew most major airline routes before jets were introduced.
    Its speed is 300 miles-per-hour and its range is 6500 miles___compared with the 370 mile-an-hour speed and 3500 plus range of the basic Super Constellation.
    The EC-121 has more powerful engines than the Super Constellation and it carries wing tip fuel tanks to allow it to remain in the air 20 or more hours.
    About six tons of electronic equipment is packed into the area otherwise used for cargo or passengers.  Special radar equipment is mounted in huge domes protruding from the top of the fuselage and in sensors trailing from the belly.
    The flying crew (pilots, navigators, and flight engineers) of a Super Constellation is three to five members, but the EC-121 reconnaissance plane carries a crew ranging from 18 to more than 30.
    The size of the crew depends on the electronic tasks involved in the mission.
    Similar reconnaisance missions have carried technicians to monitor communications, interpreters to provide immediate translations, maintenance personnel to keep the sensitive machinery in working order, a second flight crew for lengthy missions and sometimes armed guards to prevent intermingling between the flight crew and the highly classified activities in the intelligence section of the plane.
    Because much of the communication to be monitored follows a line-of-sight track and does not reach beyond the horizon, airplanes such as the EC-121 have a decided advantage over ships such as the Pueblo.  From their height of 25,000 feet or more, they can intercept the communications without moving as close to the foreign shore as a ship must.
    One role of the EC-121 reconnaissance flights has been to intercept signals, make a permanent record of their "electronic fingerprints" and relay the information to the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade near Washington, D.C.
    Through much of the last two decades, EC-121s, flown by the Air Force from Otis AFB on the East Coast and McClellan AFB on the West Coast have been used as an off-shore radar watch that is, in effect an aerial extension of the North American Air Defense Command's DEW Line___a distant Early Warning protection against enemy planes and missiles.
    The plane is also used routinely in the south east United States for advance hurricane warning, penetrating storms at 500 to 1000 feet above the water and rising into the eye of the hurricane, gathering data on wind force and direction.

The above article was submitted by William B. Leppert.
 
 

N. Korea Claims It Downed U.S. Plane
   Washington Post___April 16, 1969

By George C. Wilson
Washington Post staff writer

'Spy' Craft And 31 Lost, U.S. Admits.  Hunt Is Pressed For Survivors In Sea Of Japan.

    North Korea claimed yesterday that it had shot down "with one stroke" an American reconnaissance plane that had intruded into its air space.
    The Pentagon took note of the report and said a Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane with 31 men aboard was missing from a mission over the Sea of Japan off North Korea's coast.
    A giant plane and ship search was launched for survivors.  There was no sure sign  of them as of last night, although some debris___possibly from the EC-121___was spotted.
    The apparent downing of an American plane confronted President Nixon with an international incident grimly resembling the capture of the USS Pueblo by North Korea last year.
    However, official Administration spokesmen refrained from emphasizing the parallels, evidently trying to damp down what appeared to be a fresh crisis in Asia.
    The Pentagon, for example, gave out far fewer details about the missing plane than did Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill) after a White House briefing.


Senator Dirksen Briefs newsmen on plane incident.

    Daniel Z. Henkin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, would not confirm that North Korea had shot down the plane.  He said only that an EC-121 "has been missing since about midnight Monday, EST."
    Dirksen, however, said that Henry A. Kissinger, President Nixon's assistant for national security affairs, told him that two North Korean planes jumped the unarmed reconnaissance plane.
    "Evidently the radar checks showed that the MIGs took off a half hour before the attack," Darkness said.
    The Senator added that the American plane "Supposedly" flew no closer than 60 miles to the North Korean coast, adding: "I am a little hesitant about those figures after the Pueblo."
    The EC-121 flew in an elliptical pattern off the North Korean coast.  Dirksen said there had been at least seven or eight such missions___about two a month.
    The Defense Department, in a statement at 5 a.m. said "the aircraft commander was under orders to approach no closer than 50 nautical miles to the coast of North Korea."
    That statement, by stopping short of a flat assertion that the plane was that far out at all times, provided a hedge in case the pilot had strayed off course.
 

 

Subject:
        WV!!!
   Date:
        Sat, 10 Jul 1999 14:00:18 -0700
   From:
        "Grady Lewis" <ncvacryptolog@csi.com>
     To:
        "Wes" <INTERNET:weslee@minn.net>

            Greetings:

          My name is Grady Lewis, editor of the Naval Cryptologic Veterans
          Association newsletter CRYPTOLOG.

          I few on the Atsugi based a/c, namely # 21, 22 and 23,  almost once
          a week, and several trips working out of Pusan USAF.

          I made many trips on the EC 121 which was the shoot down
          A/c, and since a number of "CT" folks were working on board
          at the time, we  consider #21 as a part of our own.

          The Summer issue of CRYPTOLOG will feature the shootdown, with
          a story, photo and excerpts from "early warning" that suggest
          there could have been warning  in advance.

          I will send you a number of copies  of the issue, if you provide
          a mailing address.  Also I can send you Microsoft Word files
          of the  stories, in advance by E mail if you wish.

          When flying, we had one position which was an "unofficial"
          NSA   R/D position independent of the other  CT  work and
          Elint work.

          "Rus" was the crew chief we most admired.   Since the CTs
          were not crew members we had no real  instruction and
          were frequently the  last into parachutes and life jackets
          in drills.  He kept telling is he had to get us off first and we
          were so damn slow we could kill some of his crew members.

          Russ and a helper alwas cooked a fine steak for everyone
          aboard,  when we were on our way home from the
          11 hour flights.

          My admiration to all the crews:

          "Grady" Lewis

EC-121 SHOOT DOWN
Prepared for this issue by Jay Browne
   A modified Lockhead Super Constellation, designated  by the Navy as an EC-121M,  prepared to lift off from the
Naval Air Station, Atsugi, Japan. Onboard for the mission were a total of 31 men, most from Patrol Reconnaissance Squadron VQ-1, but 9 were from the Direct Support shop at NSGA Kami Seya. The 'scratch' desk log of VQ-1 recorded the events as the tragedy unfolded:
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday                                                     15 April 1969

0659  Deep Sea 129 (PR-21) airborne
1344  Condition 3 on D.S. 129
1440  Called bird cage to inquire about D.S. 129 - No
          info
1635  Commander Loeffler will launch a P-3 from FAN-
          6 to the SAR effort.
2320  Called Sgt Smith at JRC.  Still reports no visual
          sign of life.  No voice contact.  Two ships are
          enroute.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Wednesday                                                 16 April 1969

0600  JRC Sgt. Springfield reports no contacts or
          sightings at the scene.
0930  Received confirmation on Dusty Mom-01, sighting
          of debris, paper, uninflated life raft, and two Soviet
          DD's at position 41d 14m N/131d 50m E.  Time
          2305 Z.
          Confirmation from TAC-314 Major McHave.
1000  Dusty Mom-01 relayed to 50971 who relayed to
          tenant control the following.  Russian DD picked
          up a 20-man life raft.  Dusty Mom-01 sighted
          possible Mae West, possible man in life raft and
         saw a green flare - time of sighting 0059 Z.
1213  Air Force 50971 is going to drop a URC-10 radio
          to the Soviet Destroyer side # 580.
1535  Air Force 50971 reported to 22713 that the Soviet
          DD   #580 departed the area about 0420 Z, speed
          approximately 20kts, also said the Soviet DD
          recovered what looked to be an emergency exit
          door panel and a large section of aluminum.
1610  Air Force 50963 from Osan is estimating rescue
          area 0714Z. This plane has a LT onboard who
          speaks Russian.  Going to drop a radio to Soviet
          DD #580.
1634  Air Force 50963 established contact with Soviet
          DD #580 this time.
1656  USS HENRY W. TUCKER {DD875}, call sign
          (Willow), estimates position 41d 10m N/131d 44m
          E at 1940 I.
1733  From Air Force 50963 to 5th A.F. rescue.  Relayed
          details of conversation with Soviet DD #580 as
          follows:  Contact made at position 41d 16m
          N/131d 40m .  Ship heading due South - 28 miles
          North of crash site.  Conversation was made on the
          URC-10 radio.   Pilot asked the following
          questions.  Reply was made in broken English "Do
          you have any survivors?" -  answer "negative."
          "Do you have any aircraft parts?"  - answer
          "Affirmative."  At this time the ship said the parts
          are on the aft part of the ship. The Russians asked,
          "how many were on board the downed aircraft?"
          Pilot replied "31 people."  Russians asked "are any
          still alive?"  Pilot replied he didn't know, but they
          are still looking.  The ship (DD #580) changed
          heading to North closing in on the 30 mile limit.
          The pilot asked the ship if they had seen any
          survivors.  Ship replied "negative."  5th Air Force
          asked the pilot to drop a radio to #429 who was
          South of the crash site.
1925  Received the following information monitoring the
          transmission from Air Force 50963 to 5th A.F.
          rescue center.  At 1745 local time aircraft dropped
          radio.  At 1810 local ship picked up the radio;
          reversed its course from 030 to 210 degrees.  Pilot
          asked the ship (DD #429) what parts of the plane
          did they have onboard?  The ship answered giving
          the following list:
              1.  rubber life raft - no size given,
              2.  cigarette packs,
              2.  imperial pencils,
              1.  aircraft seat,
              1.  mans coat - no name
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday                                                    17 April 1969

0047  Radio monitored following:  Willow has picked up
          section of fuselage with shrapnel holes also a flare
          parachute container.  Backroom notified, SDO
          notified and he notified the C.O.
1050  From Willow to rescue at time 171045 I, SAR
          sitrep Fig 1.  Willow conducts search.  Area of
          heavy debris at 41d 28m North, 131d 35m East by
          A/C A/F rescue 50988.  Fig 2.  Small boat overside
          considerable material pieces of fuselage, cabin
          interior, 3 charts, seat parts and covers, apparel,
          AirNav logs.
1130  Willow picked up one intact body in vicinity of 41d
          55m North, 132d 00m East.  Exact coordinates of
           body pickup 41d 30m North, 131d 45m East, time
           0234Z.
1139  A second body picked up at 41d 30m N, 131d 45m
          E.
1143  Recovered bodies reported to have only flight suits
          on no survival equipment.
1259  Cornflower found body with life vest on at 41d
          31m North, 131d 41m East.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Friday                                                        18 April 1969

0658  R.I. to Tennant (2156Z), Dumbo-1 spotted objects
          in water.  R.I. requesting permission to send
          someone to investigate.
0818  Cornflower investigating debris spotted by 713
          ragged ovc base 250-300 ft.  Vis approx 1&1/4
          miles to 2 miles, OC light rain.
1009  Bollo Song sighted something, working on it.
1049  Dumbo-3 in area 05, presently investigating at---
          an oil slick with Bollo Song.
1113  Ship positions reported as follows:
                        Bollo Song 4119N/13124E
                        Willow     4120N/13120E
                        Cornflower 4156N/13205E
                        Sea Power  4121N/13339E
1526  971 established contact at 1514 with a Russian
          Destroyer number 429.  Closing with USS 875
          {TUCKER} 7 miles closing slowly and in contact.
1534  Willow sending small boat to Russian Destroyer.
1558  Willow boat along side Soviet DD.  Exchanging
          parts.  R.I. directed Willow to, upon completion,
          thank 429 for services and rejoin Bollo Song.
1626  Willow reported that the following items had been
          received from the Soviet DD, a total of 12 items:
          1.    life raft, 3.  jackets (flying),  2.  seats
2.  flying suits, 1.  seat cover, 1.  Parachute,
3.  shoes 2.  underwear, 1.  vacuum flask, 1.  Bag,
4.  pencils, 1.  radio dropped off yesterday (17 Apr 69)
1640  Willow reports raft, a 20-man type same as
          recovered yesterday, 1 white suit case with name
          "John A. Miller CTSN" on it,  bag securely
          wrapped - will open it for further identification.
          (NOTE: all previous items were recovered by
          Soviets and transferred to Willow)
1704  Willow reports bag contained civilian clothing, no
          further info.  Flight jackets had no names.  Flying
          suits appear to be brand new exposure suits.
1732  From Rescue to R.I. "Suspend operations at 0940
         Z."
1739  R.I. to Rescue, "Request clarify 'Suspend Ops'."
1739  Rescue to R.I., Com 5th A.F. SAR is authority for
         SAR operations.  It appears there is no hope for
         survivors so SAR operation will be suspended at
         time designated.
1818  Rescue to R.I., ops will be suspended at 0940Z.
         We will remain to assist you in any way.
1901  Tennant asked R.I. "How many 20-man life rafts
          have been recovered?" Report was: 1 by Soviets, 1
          by R.I., total 2.
2336  PR-1 on deck.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
   Of the thirty-one officers and men aboard the aircraft only two bodies were recovered.  Memorial services were held at both NAS Atsugi and NSGA Kami Seya.
 

Editor's note: the above story (in full-text) appeared in the Summer 1998 (Vol. 19, No. 3) issue of the CRYPTOLOG.

CRYPTOLOG EDITOR;s NOTE:  This was originally printed as a letter to the
editor in a previous issue of CRYPTOLOG.

ROOM 5--EMPTY

 Two of the CTs came from NSGA Hakata (across the bay from Fukuoka, Japan)
(also known as US Army Field Station Hakata and Air Force Hakata Air
Station. The two men were CTC Richard :Snuffy" Smith and, as my memory
serves, CT2 Joe Tesmer, They went TAD to Kamiseya the day prior to the
flight.
 Concerning the flight. I was on duty in Room One of the Operations
building at the time of the shootdown. (Morse collector). Taking a break, I
was on my way to the snack bar and had to walk past rooms two through six
before intersecting the aisle where the snack bar was located.
The Air Force collectors were in room five.
 As I walked down the hall and past the AF room five I heard emergency air
tracking coming across an open speaker. I looked in the room and there we
no operators at their positions. None. I immediately ran back to room one,
dialed up the frequency on the "floaters" position and started copying the
tracking. By that time it was too late, although our P&R shop sent out an
alert.
 As to the AF people who should have been at their positions, they were
scattered around the building doing various personal things. The fallout
was that the 2nd LT and the senior NCO on duty were reprimanded and I
believe, both denied continued service past their existing contracts.
 I've always felt that if someone had remained in room five, our plane
would have been alerted and would have broken its track and headed back to
Japan.