Riga, April 8, 2015 – On Wednesday, April 8, U.S. Embassy Riga Chargé d’Affaires Sharon Hudson-Dean will participate in the commemoration ceremony in Liepāja to honor the U.S. airmen presumed lost when their aircraft was shot down by Soviet fighter planes on April 8, 1950. During her visit, Chargé d’Affaires Sharon Hudson-Dean will participate in several events to recognize the 65th anniversary of the loss of a U.S. Navy aircraft and will visit the Latvian Naval Headquarters.
The commemoration ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Mother Sea Monument, where guests will lay flowers and wreaths. Chargé d’Affaires Sharon Hudson-Dean, Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Defense Andrejs Panteļējevs, Liepāja Deputy Mayor Gunārs Ansiņš, Commander Greg Smith, Commanding Officer, VP-26, and Commander Senior Grade Juris Roze will address the assembled guests. Representatives from Latvia’s Naval Forces, the National Guard, and the Youth Guard are also expected to attend 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.