Fourteen heroes from the past were remembered last weekend as the Silent Heroes of the Cold War memorial brought together families of those who perished in the 1955 crash of a C-54 on Mt. Charleston.
In 1955, the regularly scheduled flights out of Burbank, Calif. to Groom Lake (Watertown Strip) Nev. were transporting personnel from the CIA, Lockheed and the U.S. Air Force. to work on the design and development of the U-2.
It was on a November day that the C-54, flying blind in a snowstorm crashed on the 11,000-foot mountain.
Now, 47 years later amidst the fall colors of Mt. Charleston Recreation area, families and friends from across the country gathered at the visitors center Saturday to witness the placement of an information board featuring details of the crash and the efforts to recover the debris.
Later in the day, the propeller from the ill-fated plane served as a backdrop as folks assembled at the Sahara West library in Las Vegas for a special ceremony, which included speeches from Las Vegas Mayor, Oscar Goodman, Hank Meierdierck, former U-2 instructor pilot and now honorary chairman of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Monument Committee
Roadrunner members attending included Bob Murphy, who was supposed to be on the plane that significant day, Roger Anderson, RR president, T.D. Barnes and Dick Roussell.
Meierdierck showed films and gave a talk on the early days of the U-2 program. Steve Ririe of Las Vegas spearheaded the effort to commemorate these men who gave their lives during the Cold War as part of the U-2 program.
Ririe came upon the crash debris while hiking up Mt. Charleston in 1998. Since then, he has worked toward legislation to fund projects to identify historic sites such as the one at Mt. Charleston.
My greatest appreciation goes out to all the Roadrunners and personnel who were part of the Cold War effort. As a child growing up in the 60's, little did I know that you were working behind the scenes in secret protecting us. My sincere thanks.
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