Anderson, Rudolph, Jr., Maj

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1331-Pilot, Strategic Reconnaissance
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1962-1962, 1331, Strategic Air Command (SAC)
Service Years
1951 - 1962
Official/Unofficial US Air Force Certificates
Cuban Missile Crisis
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
South Carolina
South Carolina
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A2C Edwin Watts (Sixty) to remember Anderson, Rudolph, Jr., Maj.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address

Casualty Date
Oct 27, 1962
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Cold War Incident - Korean Air Lines Flight 007
Location of Interment
Woodlawn Cemetery Memorial Park - Greenville, South Carolina
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Aviator (Senior)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Department of Defense (DOD)4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron4080th Strategic Reconnaissance WingStrategic Air Command (SAC)
  1944-1948, Department of the Air Force, Pentagon
  1962-1962, 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron
  1962-1962, 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
  1962-1962, 1331, Strategic Air Command (SAC)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1950-1953 Korean War
  1962-1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
 Colleges Attended 
Clemson University
  1944-1948, Clemson University
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-86 Sabre  U-2 Dragon Lady  
  1953-1954, F-86 Sabre
  1955-1962, U-2 Dragon Lady
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Rudolf Anderson, Jr. was a pilot and officer in the United States Air Force, the first recipient of the Air Force Cross. Anderson was killed when his U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was the only casualty that occurred as a result of enemy fire during the confrontation. Cuban Missile Crisis Originally flown by the CIA, the USAF took over the Lockheed U-2 high altitude reconnaissance missions of Cuba on October 14, 1962, using WU-2 aircraft of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, 4080th Strategic Wing, headquartered at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. On October 15, when CIA analysts studied reconnaissance film from the first 4080th overflight, they found SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles. These pictures triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis. On October 27, Major Anderson took off in a U-2 from a forward operating location at McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando, Florida, and was shot down by a Soviet-supplied S-75 "Dvina" (NATO designation SA-2) surface-to-air missile near Banes, Cuba. "The loss of the U-2 over Banes was probably caused by intercept by an SA-2 from the Banes site, or pilot hypoxia, with the former appearing more likely on the basis of present information," stated a CIA document dated 0200 hrs, 28 October 1962. Anderson was killed when shrapnel from the exploding proximity warhead punctured his pressure suit, causing it to decompress at high altitude. On 31 October, Acting United Nations Secretary U Thant, returning from a visit with Premier Fidel Castro, announced that Major Anderson was dead. By order of President John F. Kennedy Major Anderson was posthumously awarded the first Air Force Cross as well as the Distinguished Service Medal, Purple Heart and the Cheney Award. Although Major Anderson was the only combat fatality during the crisis, eleven crew of three reconnaissance Boeing B-47 Stratojets of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing were killed in crashes during the period between September 27 and November 11, 1962. His body was interred in Greenville on November 6, 1962 at Woodlawn Memorial Park. A memorial to Major Anderson can be seen at Cleveland Park in Greenville. The memorial includes an F-86 Sabre, the type of plane Anderson flew in the Korean War. The F-86 was used for the Memorial because there were no surplus U-2 planes available at the time when it was erected in the 1960s. Every year a memorial service is held in his honor. The Arnold Air Society Squadron at Clemson University is named in his honor. Source: edited from
Addendum: Notes from "Reconstructing events aboard Anderson's U-2 in the minutes leading up to the missile attack is difficult, since he was maintaining radio silence. It will probably never be known whether the red light went on in his cockpit to denote that an SA-2 had locked onto him, and whether he made a last-minute attempt to turn away from the missile, as he was trained to do. But a later autopsy of his body and an examination of the wreckage of the U-2 leave little doubt about what happened next. The missile was fitted with a proximity fuse, designed to detonate the warhead as soon as it came within striking distance of its target, spraying shrapnel in all directions. Several pieces of missile shrapnel sliced through the cockpit, piercing the back of Anderson's helmet and his body suit. Other U-2 pilots believe that the direct hit from the shrapnel probably killed him instantly. In the event that it did not, he would have died within a few seconds from either the loss of oxygen or the shock of depressurization. His plane plummeted to the ground not far from the SA-2 missile site. A week later, the Cubans handed over Anderson's body, still dressed in the flying suit, to a United Nations representative, along with his personal possessions. These included photographs of his two young sons and wife Jane, pregnant with their third child."
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