Riga, April 8, 2014 – On Wednesday, April 9, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Mark Pekala, will participate in a commemoration ceremony in Liepāja, in honor of the U.S. airmen presumed lost when their aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighter planes on April 8, 1950. During his visit, Ambassador Pekala will also visit the Liepāja Youth House to discuss their programs and participate in a media interview.
The commemoration ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Mother Sea Monument, where guests will lay flowers and wreaths. Ambassador Pekala and Liepāja Deputy Mayor Gunārs Ansiņš will address the assembled guests. Representatives from Latvia’s Naval Forces, the National Guard, and the Youth Guard are also expected to participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the media and to the citizens of Liepāja.
On April 8, 1950, a PB4Y2 Privateer aircraft, carrying a crew of ten Americans, was shot down by Soviet fighter planes during an operational mission over the Baltic Sea. Search and rescue efforts to find the airmen continued until April 16, 1950, but were unsuccessful. The only known eyewitnesses to the incident were the Soviet fighter pilots who shot down the plane. The U.S. Navy issued a presumptive finding of death for the crew on April 11, 1951.