The cold war was not only the longest war in American history, it also posed the greatest danger our country and the world ever faced. That America emerged victorious was due largely in part to those who worked in secret.
The inspiration for this National Memorial started November 17, 1955 when USAF 9068, a military aircraft, took off from Burbank, CA bound for the Nevada base known as Area 51. It carried a crew assigned to test a new spy plane, the U-2. The aircraft crashed on Mt Charleston outside Las Vegas during a blizzard. The full story of the fourteen men aboard and the men who died attempting a rescue remained classified for over 40 years.
Steve Ririe was inspired after he discovered the debris while hiking on Mt Charleston in 1998 and wondered who had died in the wreckage. After following a trail of records from the military and CIA, he sought and obtained a declassified investigation report that launched his odyssey to find the families of the men who were killed. He got the government to declassify more documents about the crash and secret mission they were on so that he could share that information with the families who had been kept totally in the dark for 45 years.
In August 2001 he hiked to the crash site with family members of the deceased and with permission of the U.S. Forest Service, recovered the propeller of the plane. The propeller blades were bent as they plowed through a snow-covered ridge atop Mt. Charleston.
The USAF 9068 Memorial flanks the Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial.
The Memorial's are for those who worked at Area 51, the CIA, the former Nevada Test Site (now called the Nevada National Security Site) and elsewhere in the nation's nuclear weapons complex.
"It is for the people who kept the nuclear missiles in the silos and kept the Cold War from going hot" Ririe said.
The formal dedication was on May 29th, 2015.