Lackey, Lester Lee, Maj

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1965-1965, 1225A, 7499th Support Group
Service Years
1953 - 1965

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Lackey, Lester Lee, Maj.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Hale, Texas
Last Address
Frankfurt/Rhein-Main, West Germany

Date of Passing
Dec 14, 1965
Location of Interment
Elmwood Memorial Park - Abilene, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal

 Military Association Memberships
In the Line of Duty
  2014, In the Line of Duty

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Major (then Captain) Lester Lackey was the pilot of RB-57F (#63-13287) from the 7406th Combat Support Squadron, 7499th Support Group at Rhein-Main, West Germany, flying a mission over the Black Sea near Odessa, USSR. The aircraft had taken off from Incirlik AB, Adana, Turkey.

The aircraft was last reported at about 90 miles north of Turkey over the Black Sea. At first it was thought it was struck by a Soviet SA-2 missile, causing the aircraft to crash, but it was later surmised that they crashed after loss of oxygen and then consciousness. He and his navigator, 1st Lt. Robert Yates (Ridgewood, New York), were listed as MIA. Though debris from the downed aircraft was found in the Black Sea, near Turkey, no bodies were ever found.

Major Lackey left a wife and three children at his death, then living near Frankfurt, West Germany.

His body was not recovered; a memorial was placed in his honor in Abilene.
Prior to his assignment in West Germany, he had served with the 58th Weather Squadron, Kirtland AFB, Albequerque, New Mexico for 4 years (1961-1965), leaving the base in July 1965.
This unit used the RB-57 in test sampling of the atmospheric nuclear tests, etc.. It was a high altitude reconnaissance platform.

Personal Note from Sgt. Gary Banzhoff:
I was the Air Policeman on duty, guarding Captain Lackey's aircraft the night of Dec. 14th, 1965. As both Officers approached the AC, I saluted Capt. Lackey and 1st Lt. Yates and checked their credentials. Capt. Lackey then reached out to shake my hand, placing his left hand on my shoulder and wishing me a very Merry Christmas, which was only 11 days away. 1st Lt. Yates gave me a box of cookies, wished me a Merry Christmas and also shook my hand. I watched their AC take off not knowing or even considering they would never return. I've never forgotten this incident for 47 years now, and I can still see their faces.

Other Comments:
Notes/Links: (detailed info about the 7406th operations) (aircraft characteristics)
"Missing AFB57 Not Believed Downed by Reds", Port Arthur News, Texas, 19 December 1965, page 18.
"Search Stopped for Two Airmen", Albuquerque Journal,´┐ŻNew Mexico, 25 December 1965, page B-12.

Additional Notes:

"The RB-57F also had a secondary reconnaissance role and could be called upon to carry out this mission should the need ever arise. Four of the 19 RB-57Fs were operated as reconnaissance aircraft, two being based at Yokota and two with the 7407th Combat Support Wing at Rhein-Main in Germany. On December 14, 1965, one of the RB-57Fs (63-13287) operating out of Rhein-Main was lost during a mission over the Black Sea. What actually happened is still uncertain. There were reports that the aircraft had been shot down by a Soviet SAM, but at the time, the official word let out by the USAF was that the aircraft crew had probably perished from an oxygen system failure, since it took over an hour for the aircraft to spiral down from altitude and fall into the Black Sea. Although 7 or 8 days were spent searching for the wreck, only small bits and pieces of wreckage were ever found. However, there were also reports that the two crewmembers were captured alive by the Soviets, with their ultimate fate being uncertain. Source:
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Aviator (Senior)

 Unit Assignments
58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron/Air Weather Reconnaissance7499th Support Group
  1961-1965, 1225A, 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron/Air Weather Reconnaissance
  1965-1965, 1225A, 7499th Support Group
 Colleges Attended 
Texas A&M University
  1948-1952, Texas A&M University
 My Aircraft/Missiles
RB-57D Canberra  
  1961-1965, RB-57D Canberra
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