Cold War

Among the factors that influenced the Cold War were the detention of several hundred Americans in Gulags, in addition to the obstacles in returning some 2,000 American POWs out of an estimated 75,000 who ended up in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany by 1945, as well as the reunification of Soviet wives with their American husbands.

A number of Americans, mostly military pilots, were captured during the Korean War in North Korea and ended up in the Soviet Union. In a 1992 letter, Boris Yeltsin stated that nine US planes had been shot down in the early 1950s and 12 Americans had been held as prisoners. As a result, in March 1992, a joint Russian-American task force was created to review these cases. A former Soviet general and co-chairman of the Task Force Russia told a US Senate Committee that 730 airmen had been captured on Cold War spy flights.



On April 15, 1969, an EC-121M Warning Star took off from Atsugi Air Force Base, Japan, with thirty-one crew members aboard for a reconnaissance mission over the Sea of Japan. “Deep Sea 129” was fitted with a large radar set to collect intelligence about communications between Soviet Bloc countries during the U.S. In violation of international law, two North Korean fighter jets intercepted and shot down “Deep Sea 129” over international waters. The surveillance aircraft crashed ninety nautical miles off the coast of North Korea. U.S. Navy and Russian ships took part in search and rescue operations, but there was no indication that any of the thirty-one crew members survived the incident.

Petty Officer Third Class Gary R. Ducharme entered the U.S. Navy from Wisconsin and served in Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1). He was a crew member aboard Deep Sea 129 when it was shot down and he was lost in the crash. His body was unable to be recovered after the incident and he remains unaccounted for.