Current Commentary

Larry Tart’s New Book
about attacks on American surveillance missions,

The Price of Vigilance

Memorial Day is special to all veterans, and this Memorial Day is especially meaningful to me. I enthusiastically announce the launch of a book I have been researching and writing for years. The publisher of the book—The Price of Vigilance—is the Ballantine Books division of Random House. Although Diane and I are childless, I feel like the proud father of his first son. But no, I am not passing out cigars. The Price of Vigilance is my tribute to our airborne reconnaissance brothers who have paid the ultimate price and to their families. Memorial Day seems the appropriate time to inform you.

Overview – Aptly named, The Price of Vigilance is about attacks on American surveillance missions, with emphasis on an Air Force C-130 (# 60528) that the Soviets shot down over Armenia in 1958. Three-hundred pages are devoted to this incident. For completeness, we provide histories on the Air Force units involved—the USAF Security Service and Detachment 1, 6911th Radio Group Mobile (recon crew) and the 7499th Support Group and 7406th Support Squadron (flight crew’s squadron)—plus a history of airborne communications intelligence reconnaissance platforms from WW II (1945) when Army Air Corps nisei intercept operators intercepted Japanese air defense voice comms aboard RB-24s over the Pacific through the 1950s when RB-29, RC-47, RB-50 and C-130 ACRP planes were the recon workhorses. We also address Soviet attacks on other U.S. Cold War recon missions, emphasizing incidents with American KIAs and MIAs. Chapter 2 (Attacks on Other Recon Platforms) covers a dozen incidents in 106 pages. In addition, there is a 60-page section on the Navy EP-3E Chinese incident in April 2001 and scores of photos from the 1940s and 1950s. At the reasonable price of $26.00, this 650-page hard-cover book will be available in national bookstores on June 12, 2001. Get the details on the book at my web site <<AHREF=""></A>>.

EP-3E Chinese Incident — When the Navy EP-3E crew landed on Hainan Island on April 1, 2001, The Price of Vigilance manuscript was essentially ready to be printed. Seeing the relationship between the EP-3 incident and attacks on U.S. recon planes during the Cold War, we added an extensive introduction that addresses the EP-3E incident, Chinese attacks on American recon aircraft during the Cold War, and Chinese signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations.

Background on the Authors – A retired Air Force senior master sergeant, Larry Tart is a former airborne voice intercept operator (cryptologic Russian linguist) and airborne mission supervisor in charge of the communications intelligence reconnaissance mission aboard C-130 and RC-135 recon platforms. In the 1960s-70s, he logged approximately 3,000 flying hours, engaged in aerial surveillance similar to the mission of the U.S. Navy EP-3E crew that made the emergency landing in China. Co-author, Dr. Robert Keefe—a former airborne intercept operator (Russian linguist) and a university English professor for the past 35 years—flew recon missions from 1957 to 1960. Keefe and Tart "speak" and write about airborne signals intelligence reconnaissance with authority.

Tragedy – When a Chinese fighter pilot collided with Lt. Shane Osborn's EP-3 plane over the South China Sea on April 1, 2001, Osborn's crew managed to land safely on Hainan Island. Miraculously, the 24 EP-3 crew members deplaned without injury . On a similar communications intelligence recon mission on Sept. 2, 1958, seventeen U.S. Air Force flyers were less fortunate; they perished aboard C-130 # 60528 when their plane strayed inadvertently into Soviet Armenia and was shot down by Soviet MiGs. Coincidentally, Tart and Keefe served in the same squadron as 60528's eleven-man recon crew. Keefe lived, worked and flew recon missions with the lost crew. Because of the sensitivity of the mission—much stricter security rules than we know today—the Air Force would not acknowledge that the lost C-130 was on a reconnaissance mission; families were kept in the dark and the crew received no recognition for four decades.

Paying Tribute - In August 1995 during a visit to the National Cryptologic Museum at the National Security Agency, Larry Tart detected an easing of the Cold War security blanket that had cloaked foreign attacks on U.S. surveillance aircraft in secrecy. He wrote a letter to the NSA historian offering to help create a memorial honoring the "C-130 crew that had been lost over Armenia in 1958;" the historian declined his offer.

A year later, a briefing Tart had written about the C-130 shootdown found its way into the in-basket of Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan, Director of NSA. At a director’s meeting, Gen. Minihan told his staff he wanted to honor the C-130 crew that had been shot down over Armenia with a memorial. His staff thought this was an excellent idea. Creating the memorial took on a life of its own. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers who donated 1000s of off-duty hours, the Aerial Reconnaissance Memorial was created. It pays tribute to 60528's crew and their families, and to other Cold War American recon crews who paid the ultimate price. In 36 incidents, 264 Americans paid the price: 105 KIAs and 159 MIAs.

On Sept. 2, 1997—39 years after the shootdown of 528—National Vigilance Park and the memorial, a renovated C-130A painted in the colors of the original 60528, were dedicated. As special guests, ninety family members of 528’s lost crew learned that their loved ones had been engaged in airborne communications intelligence reconnaissance that had been extremely important to America's national security. NVP and the memorial 60528 are collocated with the cryptologic museum at NSA, Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Price of Vigilance records for posterity the events mentioned herein and more. As it debuts in national bookstores and on the Internet on June 12, The Price for Vigilance will make a totally unique gift for Father's Day 2001.

Larry Tart
sending from central Pennsylvania--State College, PA
(814) 238-7067

Home - Contact Us - Cold War Hist. - 91st SRS Hist. - Stardust 40 Mission Story
RB-29 Crew Hist. - Hiking Rural Japan - Extended Stories - Short Stories
Biographical Notes - Current Commentary - Art Gallery - Fun Stuff - Education
- Locator- Reunions - Memorials - Cold War Museum Web Site