Mascot new lookBalladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top Twenty lists for 2020 continues. With Memorial Day coming up in a few weeks let’s take a look at some servicemembers who died in assorted neglected Cold War hostilities.

APRIL 8th, 1950 – A U.S. Navy Privateer Electronic Intelligence aircraft was shot down by Soviet Union fighter planes over the Baltic Sea. All 10 crew members were either killed or captured by the Soviets with no further information ever becoming available.

NOVEMBER 6th, 1951 – A U.S. Navy Neptune patrol aircraft was fired upon by Soviet fighters off the coast of Siberia. The plane disappeared along with all 10 crew members.

JUNE 13th, 1952 – A U.S. Air Force Superfortress on a reconnaissance mission was reportedly attacked by Soviet fighters over the Sea of Japan and disappeared without a trace along with all 12 crew members.

SuperfortressOCTOBER 7th, 1952 – Another U.S. Air Force Superfortress encountered Soviet fighters off the coast of Japan and was presumed to have been shot down with 8 crewmen losing their lives.

NOVEMBER 29th, 1952 – A U.S. cargo plane was shot down over northeast China. Two crewmen died in the crash and were buried near the craft. The surviving pair – John Downey and Richard Fectau – were captured and imprisoned. Fectau was not returned to the U.S. until 1971 and Downey in 1973.

JANUARY 18th, 1953 – A U.S. Navy Neptune plane was shot down by Chinese anti-aircraft guns over the Formosa Strait off Swatow, China. It ditched, with 2 crew members presumed captured by the Chinese and 5 presumed dead. A U.S. Coast Guard “flying boat” crashed during the search for the downed crew, leaving 4 more men dead.   

JULY 29th, 1953 – A U.S. Air Force Superfortress was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Sea of Japan. The copilot was eventually rescued, but 16 other crew members were lost, including 7 who parachuted out and may have been captured by the Soviets. No additional word on them.

SEPTEMBER 4th, 1954 – A U.S. Navy Neptune aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters approximately 40 miles off the coast of Siberia. One lone crew member died in the crash and the other 9 survived and were rescued on September 5th.

NOVEMBER 7th, 1954 – A U.S. Air Force RB-29 aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighters near Hokkaido, Japan. One crewman died after bailing out, while 10 others bailed out and were rescued.

JUNE 22nd, 1955 – A U.S. Navy Neptune was attacked by Soviet fighters off Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. The Neptune crash-landed on the island, with 7 of the 10-man crew injured but no fatalities.

AUGUST 22nd, 1956 – On a night mission, a U.S. Navy Mercator aircraft was shot down over the Shengszu Islands off the coast of China. All 16 crew members perished. 

JUNE 27th, 1958 – A U.S. Air Force C-118 was attacked and damaged by Soviet fighters approximately 100 miles inside Soviet Armenia. Nine men were on board. Five managed to parachute out and were captured. All 5 were released after 10 days of questioning when they explained that bad weather forced them into Soviet airspace on their flight to Tehran.

SEPTEMBER 2nd, 1958 – A U.S. Air Force Hercules aircraft with 17 men on board was shot down by Soviet fighters and crashed in Soviet Armenia. Six bodies were returned by the Soviet government. The other 11 were captured and later presumed dead.

JUNE 16th, 1959 – A U.S. Navy Mercator was attacked by Soviet fighters 85 miles east of Wonsan, North Korea, over the Sea of Japan. The plane was damaged but returned intact to Niho Air Base in Japan. One crew member – the tailgunner – was seriously wounded.

MAY 1st, 1960 – In the most famous of these incidents, Francis Gary Powers, piloting a CIA U-2 spyplane, was shot down near Sverdlovsk by a Soviet surface-to-air missile and captured. He was later exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

JULY 1st, 1960 – A U.S. Air Force RB-47 aircraft flying from a base in England was shot down by Soviet MiG-19 fighters over the Barents Sea. Four of the 6 crewmen died in the crash. The other 2 were captured by the Soviets, incarcerated at the infamous Lubyanka prison but released on January 25th, 1961.

OCTOBER 27th, 1962 – A U.S. Air Force U-2 piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Cuba. Anderson died in the crash.

MARCH 10th, 1964 – A U.S. Air Force Destroyer was shot down by Soviet fighters over East Germany. The 3 crewmembers parachuted from the plane and were returned to U.S. custody.

APRIL 15th, 1969 – A U.S. Navy Warning Star aircraft was shot down by North Korean fighters off the coast of North Korea. All 31 crew members were killed.

FEBRUARY 5th, 1973 – A U.S. Air Force Skytrain was shot down over Laos. Reportedly, 2 of the 4 crew members survived and may have been transported to the Soviet Union for interrogation. 



Filed under Neglected History


  1. Addison

    Interesting how many deaths in a war that was never declared.

  2. Nathaniel

    A lot more of these things went on than we ever suspected.

  3. Lloyd

    Are the men who died in these actions buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

  4. Shawn

    It’s interesting how none of these blew up into larger conflicts.

  5. Leeno

    I would have been scared to death knowing these things were going on and might trigger a nuclear war at any moment.

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