Moscow (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, July 8, 1960, U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers*, whose aircraft was shot down two months earlier over the Soviet Union, was charged with espionage.
The aircraft was hit by a Soviet surface-to-air missile and Powers was able to parachute to safety before being captured.
A month after being charged, Powers was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was sent to Vladimir Central Prison a hundred miles from Moscow.
Powers was released on February 10, 1962, however, in exchange for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel.
Awesome Stories quotes from Powers' book Operation Overflight which includes portions of the transcript of the pilot's trial. Powers was given a poison pin during a briefing before the flight. It was his call, however, whether or not to use it.
Powers testifies that he was never specifically told by his superiors to kill himself if captured and that the poison pin was an alternative to torture.
A Congressional committee determined that Francis Gary Powers had not divulged any crucial information during his capture and had conducted himself properly.
"Francis Gary Powers - The U-2 Incident," www.awesomestories.com/
*Francis Gary Powers (1929-1977) was born in Jenkins, KY & grew up in Pound, VA. He graduated from Milligan College in Tennessee in 1950 & was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the USAF. After his discharge as a Captain in 1956, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency.
FGP died in a helicopter crash on August 1, 1977. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.