Gary Powers given posthumous award
WASHINGTON: American U2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down in 1960 over the Soviet Union, was posthumously awarded a high honour on Friday for his “exceptional loyalty” while in captivity.
It took more than 50 years for the US Air Force to award the Silver Star to Powers, who was sharply criticised after his release in 1962. The medal was given to his two grandchildren at a Pentagon ceremony.
Some said Powers should have taken the CIA-issued “suicide pill” given to him in case of imminent capture, and for flying too low. Some even accused him of revealing secrets to his captors in the Soviet Union.
In 1998, declassified documents showed that Powers — who left the Air Force with the rank of captain — worked for a joint CIA-military programme, which opened the door to official recognition of his heroic acts.
The downing of the U2, one of the most famous incidents of the Cold War, sparked a crisis between Washington and Moscow, and the eventual failure of the Paris summit that was meant to tackle the status of a divided Berlin.—AFP