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Cold War Veteran receives Distinguished Flying Cross

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- It's been 54 years since the secret reconnaissance mission over Soviet air space during the Cold War, but the Air Force did not forget about each Airman who flew the hazardous mission.

Just three years after the Berlin Airlift and as Americans were still fighting in the Korean War, American leaders needed to know if the Soviet military was establishing an airfield capable of basing fighter aircraft, TU-4 bombers and establishing radar facilities in an unknown arctic Soviet territory.

To determine if the Soviets were expanding into the artic area that could have made American and NATO targets vulnerable to an attack, Tech. Sgt. Roscoe Lindsay and 11 other aircrew members on an RB-50E based at Thule Air Base, Greenland, flew their jet to photograph the area to find out without a shadow of a doubt.

For his actions that was beyond the call of duty for this mission, Sergeant Lindsay was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously in a ceremony here Sept. 15. Sergeant Lindsay's widow, Loy Lindsay, accompanied by her three children and their families, accepted the award for her husband.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any person who distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must be evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty.

Sergeant Lindsay was an aerial photographer and volunteered for the classified reconnaissance mission to fly over the Soviet Union Sept. 17, 1952. The aircraft commander, Lt. Col. Roy Kaden, then Major Kaden, said the crew understood that if they were shot down there would be no rescue attempt made by the Air Force. They also would not be able to use radios for the entire 15-hour mission, making it especially risky for the crew.

The crew, based out of Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, launched their RB-50E from their deployed location at Thule AB. Although the crew did not find any evidence of a Soviet military presence after the mission was completed, all orders or proof that this mission ever existed were destroyed, according to Colonel Kaden.

In 2000, the government declassified details of the mission and Colonel Kaden began to lobby for the crew to receive the DFC. Twelve crew members were aboard this flight and Sergeant Roscoe was the final crew member to receive the award for his involvement in the mission.

"He certainly deserved it, and I'm so happy for him," Mrs. Lindsay said. "I wish he could be here."

Sergeant Lindsay died of a heart attack when he was 38, just seven years after he flew this mission.

In addition to celebrating the heroism and dedication of her husband, Sergeant Roscoe's wife also celebrated her 80th birthday with cake following the ceremony.

"Great birthday, huh, mom?" said Lana Logan, daughter of Sergeant and Mrs. Lindsay as Mrs. Lindsay wiped a tear from her cheek.

"I am just in awe of all of it," Mrs. Lindsay said. "I'm just speechless."