15 April 1969 (Korean time) marked the final flight of a Navy VQ-1 EC-121/WV-2 callsign Deep Sea 129. Roughly 100 nm off the North Korean peninsular site where the Hermit Kingdom today defies the world with its ballistic missile tests, lies the watery grave of 31 Americans (2 bodies were later recovered):

The crew of Deep Sea 129:

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, ADRC Marshall H. McNamara, CTC Frederick A. Randall, CTC Richard E. Smith, * AT1 Richard E. Sweeney, AT1 James Leroy Roach, CT1 John H. Potts, ADR1 Ballard F. Conners, AT1 Stephen C. Chartier, AT1 Bernie J. Colgin, ADR2 Louis F. Balderman, ATR2 Dennis J. Horrigan, ATN2 Richard H. Kincaid, ATR2 Timothy H. McNeil, CT2 Stephen J. Tesmer, ATN3 David M. Willis, CT3 Philip D. Sundby, AMS3 Richard T. Prindle, CT3 John A. Miller, AEC LaVerne A. Greiner, ATN3 Gene K. Graham, CT3 Gary R. DuCharme, SSGT Hugh M. Lynch,(US Marine Corps) [* Recovered]

North Korea not only acknowledged the shoot down, they loudly and boastfully celebrated their action. President Nixon suspended PARPRO flights in the Sea of Japan for three days and then allowed them to resume, only with escorts. No reparations were ever paid to the US or the families of the lost airmen.
And Kim Il-Sung celebrated another birthday (April 15th).

Read more here, here and here

Posted by SteelJaw in Aviation, History, Navy
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  • Randy Thompson

    CTC Richard E. Smith, I do believe had been my CTT “A” school instructor – ELINT side as I recall. Just one of the many reasons I made the Navy, NSG, a career – the instrucion and motivation of Chief Smith.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    While our honored war dead are generally remembered and honored, those who died in the service of the nation in “peace” often are not. Would it not be appropriate that this site establish a page to place posts like this in a central location which would provide a permanent recognition for their sacrifice for family, researchers, and the passers by.

    RIP. Sincerest condolences to friends and family. Thanks for the post. Absent colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

  • Andy (JADAA)

    If you are ever in the Washington, DC area, please take the time to drive up to Ft. Meade and visit “Vigilance Park,” and the National Cryptological Museum. There you can learn of the program that cost more American lives in “Peacetime” than any other. It was only in the last decade that the entire program came out of the black world and people could finally tell their families at least a little about what they’d done.

    Let me recommend two books: “By Any Means Necessary,” by William E. Burrows (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; October 10, 2001) and “The Price of Vigilance,” by Larry Tart and Robert Keefe (Ballantine Books; June 12, 2001)

    Andy (VQ-2, 1976-1979)

  • Grampa Bluewater:

    That is one of my projects this year over at my homesite – along the same lines as my “MIA Returns” category. My first Joint Penance job was in the NMJIC working airborne recce — and my first job entailed researching, catloging and writing up a report on Cold War PARPRO losses for the NCA. That and some “other” excursions have kept this a closely followed topic for me…
    w/r, SJS

  • sid

    Given the nuclear hair trigger atmosphere of the times, it made sense to leave these information gathering nodes like Deep Sea 129 militarily innocuous, as they could otherwise provoke a confrontation nobody wanted if they were seen as more menacing “war machines”.

    But now that this infrastructure is being recast as a “Battle Network”, expected to make up for numerical shortfalls, and to replace some of the traditional metrics of warfighting at sea, it should be noted that its historical roots are carrying forward a significant critical flaw. Namely, the inability to “fight hurt.”

    Staying Power still matters…

    Even in these modern times.

  • Michael D. Ruth (formerly CTR1)

    I still remember this like it was yesterday. The CT’s and the USMC equivalents were shipmates of mine at NAVSECGRUACT, Kamiseya, Japan. Gary Ducharme, especially, was a friend. For those who think that the Cold War was actually “cold” they should remember the crews of the USS Liberty, they USS Pueblo, the EC-121, and people like U-2 pilot Gary Powers. Intelligence collection did result in loss of life due to enemy action against slow moving and unarmed planes. These men will live in my memory for the rest of my life.

  • sid

    I still remember this like it was yesterday.

    Me too Mike…The XO of the squadron at the time was an old neighbor of ours…

    Still sayin’ what I said last year….

  • PR # 21 from VQ-1 Squadron at DaNang flew in and out of DaNang in early, 1969, and when I purchased a camera in 1969 – some of the aircraft landing were some of my first photos. The brown shoes with their security pouches showed up at the 6924th USAFSS Operations Center around the corner from VQ-1 from time to time. The Navy Boys were also living on the flight line, and I am sure that we were neighbors for awhile. I salute their service, and as a fellow Signals guy, I consider them one of ours. My photo at DaNang of EC-121 # 21, March, 1969 at DaNang A.B., before their mission in the Sea of Japan. http://www.ipernity.com/doc/bobbyedwards/6585864 – If you would like a copy of the original photo, let me know.