Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 3 of the Oxcart Legacy Tour

It was like old home week for a group of Roadrunners at the Central Intelligence Agency today as they visited with CIA families and employees at the agency's annual family day event where thousands attended. Day three of the Oxcart Legacy tour allowed the pioneers of the "Project Oxcart' the opportunity to bond with former colleagues of the agency and their families amidst the stunning A-12 that's on display at headquarters in Virginia. Mission and personnel details of project  were declassified in 2007 where a number of the project personnel attended the ceremony to commemorate the declassification and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the CIA.

CIA Article #128 (Serial #60-06931) was the first operationally outfitted A-12 to reach Mach 3 at Groom Lake, Nevada. Today Article 128 is proudly displayed at CIA Hqs. in Langley aloft on three stainless steel pylons in an operational flight attitude at 80,000 feet, nose up 8 degrees and in a 9 degree roll. 

Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta addressed the large crowd today gathered in front the A-12 and spoke about the heroism of these early aerospace pioneers.

He personally thanked A-12 personnel that attended the event including Lockheed Industrial Manager for the project, Bob Murphy; project pilot Ken Collins, Dr. Gene Poteat, who was responsible for pioneering stealth technologies; TD Barnes, hypersonic support specialist[ Dennis Nordquist with Pratt and Whitney who designed the one of a kind J-58 engines; Roger Anderson USAF operations for the 1129th Special Activities Squadron,as well SR-71 pilots, Col Richard Graham USAF (Ret) and Col. Buzz Carpenter USAF (Ret)

'The event today was especially meaningful because it gave remembrance to two A-12 pilots Walt Ray and Jack Weeks who gave their lives in the line of duty while piloting the Mach 3 aircraft," said TD Barnes, Roadrunner Internationale President and Director of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame. Two stars are engraved in the wall in front the aircraft memorializing their heroism.

'We are so proud and grateful to be here today to educate and inform people about the program under the beautifully displayed Article 128," said Barnes. "The plane symbolizes the accomplishments of the Agency and the 'Secret Heroes of the Cold War'.

Barnes also said today he was reassured that in light of the worldwide challenges we face today, the morale of the Agency under the leadership of Director seems higher than ever.

Barnes and the others were especially happy to talk with young children interested in this sleek, black aircraft that protected our country during hostile times. "We were impressed to see the interest of the children within the CIA families," he said.

Roadrunner Mike Schmitz worked with project pilot Frank Murray and the agency to make photograph tribute to the A-12 secret heroes. The photograph was for sale at the family day event. "I was very honored to share the day with the individuals that have such pride in their accomplishments," he said.

Special Note: I am truly overwhelmed and honored to have participated in this wonderful event today. It gives me great satisfaction to witness the pride the agency takes in the family tradition and it is a great privilege see our Cold Warrior Warriors honored.

Submitted by Connie Pardew
Photos by TD Barnes

1 comment:

Proud Cold Warrior said...

Thank you for posting this article. I am glad to see that there are others who wish to inform our nation of the heroism and sacrifices Cold Warriors made in proptecting the USA during the Cold War. I have started a blog called The Proud Cold Warrior where I am asking for Cold War stories to be shared. May I have permission to use this article there? With the photo? Proper recognition will be given. Please visit www.theproudcoldwarrior.blogspot.com and view what has been shared so far. Thank you. JohnnyK, proudcoldwarrior@gmail.com