Jack LivelyAD3 Jack D. Lively USN
By Pat Lively Dickinson

Three words I shall never forget      

Three words I shall never forget
On a beautiful fall day in November, 1951, as I was walking home from school, I noticed my dad standing on the back porch with one foot propped up on the porch railing, his elbow braced on his knee, his hand holding his bowed head. Instinctively, I knew something was wrong. I ran the rest of the way home and racing up the steps, I asked, what‘s wrong? My dad lifted his head and with tears streaming down his face, he said three words:

Jack is missing!

I regret to inform you that a report just received states that your son Jack Lively Aviation machinist mate third class US Navy is missing as of 6 November 1951 when the plane on which he was a crew member was reported overdue and is presumed to have crashed at sea. All available research are now engaged in locating your son. Your great anxiety is understood and when further reports are received you will be informed immediately.

Vice Admiral L T Dubose, Chief Naval Personel, 1036 am

Excerpts from:
"A Dangerous Business:
The U.S. Navy and National Reconnaissance During the Cold War?"
Commemorating Silent Sacrifices?
Written by John R. Schindler

Obtained from the Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency,
Fort George G. Meade, Maryland 20755-6886 (www.nsa.gov)

"National policy-makers, fearing war with the Soviet bloc could erupt at any time, embarked on a high-risk strategy to gain desperately needed intelligence about Soviet air defenses and military industries. This required the Air Force and Navy to dispatch vulnerable reconnaissance aircraft close to the enemy's frontiers to collect ELINT against Communist targets. This was a gamble, putting crews' lives at considerable risk, but the payoff was deemed worth the potential cost. This highly secret program was given the euphemistic title of the Special Electronic Search Project (SESP) by the Navy, which began outfitting aircraft from its patrol squadrons for these missions.

That this was a dangerous business was obvious from the start. In the first place, the aircraft were slow and vulnerable to attack, being lightly armed with machine guns. Seldom would fighter escort be available to protect aircraft on the SESP missions. Moreover, the missions were very long and mostly over water. If aircraft were lost due to enemy attack or mechanical problems, the odds were against successful crew rescue due to the distances involved and the high secrecy of the missions."

"The first SESP loss in Asia came on 6 November 1951 when a P2V Neptune patrol bomber assigned to VQ-1 was attacked by two Soviet La-11 fighters over the Sea of Japan, about 18 miles from the Soviet coast near Vladivostok. All ten crewmen were lost - three days of search and rescue operations revealed no trace of them - and declared dead by the Navy in 1952:

AO1 Reuben S. Baggett
AT2 William S. Meyer
AD1 Paul R. Foster
AT1 Erwin D. Raglin
LTJG Judd C. Hodgson
LTJG Sam Rosenfeld
AL2 Paul G. Juric
ENS Donald A. Smith
AD3 Jack Lively
AL2 Ralph A. Wigert, Jr.

At the time, the Navy informed the public that the lost P2V was engaged in a weather reconnaissance flight when attacked: the SESP mission would remain classified until the Cold War ended four decades later. As with most shoot-downs, the only surviving witnesses to the crash were the Soviet pilots, who recalled that they downed the Neptune at about 10 a.m., approximately 18 miles off the Soviet coast, and that the U.S. aircraft exploded after it "fell, burning, into the water," making it exceptionally unlikely that any crew survived."

The last paragraph in this booklet reads:

"Although aerial reconnaissance remains filled with hazards by its very nature, it is hoped that no more lives will be lost in defense of freedom - though old sailors know this is unlikely to be so. The sacrifices of the Naval air crews who gave their lives during the Cold War, the 90 brave men remembered in this booklet and at National Vigilance Park, deserve to be remembered by a grateful nation. The missions they flew and lives they lost were shrouded in secrecy for decades. Now, at last, can their story of dedication and sacrifice - for fellow sailors, for the Navy, for the country - be told, celebrated, and commemorated." "THEY SERVED IN SILENCE"


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