Crew Of A United States Air Force – C-130 Aircraft 2 September 1958

U.S. Air Force flyers to get burial 40 years later

September 2, 1998

Seventeen U.S. Air Force airmen shot down while flying a spy mission near the Soviet republic of Armenia will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, 40 years to the day after their plane went down.

The 17 men were crew members aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft on Sept. 2, 1958, when it was shot down by MiGs over Soviet Armenia, the Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday.

The men had been flying a reconnaissance mission near the Armenian border when it strayed into Soviet territory. The plane crashed and burned with all 17 crewmen on board.

The Soviet Union returned the partial remains of six of the crewmen the same year — although only three of the remains were identified at that point and it took until 1996-97 to identify the other three remains.

A U.S. Army team went to the site of the crash in 1993 and recovered the rest of the remains, including more than 2,000 bone and tooth fragments, life support equipment, personal effects and aircraft wreckage, the Pentagon said.

A review of the case by the Air Force concluded that no crewmen had been able to escape from the aircraft.

“Given the incomplete nature of the remains recovered from the crash site and those of the six men previously identified, a group remains identification was made for the entire crew,” it said. “The remains will be interred as a group at Arlington.”

A spokeswoman for the military district of Washington said it would be a full honors funeral, with seven Air Force men firing three volleys in a salute to the Cold War heroes.

The funeral would begin at 11 a.m. with the families of at least 12 of the men attending, she said. The funeral is open to the public.

The men who had been identified previously were Airman 2nd Class Archie Bourg, Jr. of Parish, Louisiana; Captain Edward Jeruss of New Haven, Connecticut.; Airman 2nd Class Gerald Medeiros of New Bedford, Mass.; Captain John Simpson of Richland, Washington; Captain Rudy Swiestra of Compton, California; and First Lieutenant Ricardo Villareal of Laredo, Texas.

Identified in 1998 were Captain Paul Duncan of Richland, Washington; Airman 2nd Class James Ferguson Jr. of Kingsford Heights, Indiana; Airman 2nd Class Joel Fields of Cynthiana, Kentucky; Airman 2nd Class Harold Kamps of Lena, Wisconsin; Airman 2nd Class Clement Mankins of Point Marion, Pennsylvania; Tech Sergeant Arthur Mello of Erie, Pennsylvania; Airman 2nd Class Robert Moore of West Monroe, Louisiana; Airman 1st Class Robert Oshinskie of Shamokin, Pennsylvania; and Staff Sergeant LaRoy Price of Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Two names were not being released out of respect for the families' privacy, the Defense Department said.

The remains of 123 Americans killed during the Cold War are still unaccounted for.

The crew of a downed C-130, 02 September 1958, which veered off course and which was shot down by a group of MIGS over Soviet Armenia. There were no survivors. They were buried in Section 34 Grave 2526, 2 September 1998.

One of the crew, Edward J. Jeruss, was recovered at the time and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1958.


The casket containing the remains of the crew is escorted to the gravesite in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery by the US Air Force Honor Guard.


The casket containing the remains of the crew is escorted through
Arlington National Cemetery by the Caisson Platoon, Third United
States Infantry (“The Old Guard”)


The Prisoner-of-War/Missing-in-Action flag and bearer guards the repatriated remains of 17 Air Force crewmembers aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft shot down by MiGs over Soviet Armenia September 2, 1958. The remains of 17 U.S. Airmen shot down during the Cold War were interred as a group in Arlington National Cemetery September 2, 1998. With this group identification of 17 men, 18 Americans have been identified from Cold War losses, and 123 are still unaccounted-for.


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