Southwest virginia spy pilot will posthumously receive silver star50 years after being shot down

Famed Southwest Virginia spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers willposthumously receive the Silver Star next week in honor of hiscaptivity in the Soviet Union more than 50 years ago. Powers, raised in the coal town of Pound, spent 21 months in aMoscow prison after his CIA-backed U-2 plane was shot down May 1,1960, by a Russian surface-to-air missile. “It”s a wonderful honor and we”re [the family]humbled,” his son, Francis Gary Powers Jr. said in atelephone interview Wednesday.

A ceremony to award the Silver Star, the third-highest combatmilitary decoration for valor, will be held at the Pentagon inArlington, Va., on June 15 to recognize his courage under harshinterrogation. Powers was 47 years old when he died in a helicopter crash inAugust 1977 as a pilot broadcasting traffic updates in Los Angeles. The son, founder of a Cold War museum in Vint Hill, in FauquierCounty, Va., kick-started the effort for a military medal years agoafter reading formerly top-secret records showing that theCIA”s U-2 flights were a joint venture with the U.S. AirForce.

During the Cold War, the CIA purposely distanced itself from themilitary by using only hired contractors to fly spy planes overcommunist Russia. Powers” mission was to gather photographicintelligence on Soviet bombers and ICBM forces. The U-2, capable ofreaching beyond 70,000 feet, was thought to fly too high formissiles and attack jets. The new revelations proved that Powers, a first lieutenant onactive duty before becoming a civilian to join the CIA”sreconnaissance program in 1956, was really a commissioned officerwhen shot down and eventually released in a spy trade. “Nothing could have happened before 2000, when declassifiedfiles were released,” Powers Jr. Male Sex Enlargement Pills

said. “That”swhat started the ball rolling.” Powers, it turned out, continued his active-duty service while aspy pilot, throughout captivity from May 1, 1960, to Feb. 10, 1962,and was discharged from the super secret reconnaissance program asa captain. None of this information made it to the public, or even toPowers” family, during his lifetime. “He would discuss it [the flights and captivity], but hewould never divulge classified information,” said the son. Herbal Sex Pills Manufacturer

Powers received a cool reception when he returned to theUnitedStates– critics said he should have swallowed his suicide pill toavoid capture and interrogation. The downed U-2 was a major coupfor Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. After reading the new records, Powers Jr. simply wrote the AirForce Board for the Correction of Military Records asking if therewas any precedent of the award going to other officers similarlyshot down and held captive during the Cold War. Male Enhancement Vimax

On Dec. 8, 2011, the board pointed to two other officers who wereshot down in the USSR, held prisoner and eventually awarded fortheir service, according to the Associated Press. Based on this precedent , the board decided that Powers should also be awarded for his”exceptional loyalty” during harsh interrogation. “We are very, very excited about this,” Powers Jr.said.

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