Trump and Putin take steps to save lives

When American military lives are at risk the world media should focus on the words spoken in Helsinki with some hope.  An ugly US vs. USSR Cold War incident that cost the lives of three USAF officers bears witness to the promise of better relations announced by both presidents.

The 1964 T-39 shootdown incident occurred on 28 January 1964, when an unarmed United States Air Force T-39 Sabreliner on a training mission was shot down over Erfurt, East Germany by a Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 fighter aircraft.  The occupants of the aircraft were Lieutenant Colonel Gerald K. Hannaford, Captain Donald Grant Millard, and Captain John F. Lorraine.  All three died, becoming among a number of confirmed U.S. casualties of the Cold War in Europe.

Residents from the nearby town of Vogelsberg in Thuringia erected a memorial to the three downed pilots, in 1998, once the Iron Curtain had been lifted.

President Putin:

The Cold War is a thing of past. The era of acute ideological confrontation of the two countries is a thing of the remote past – it's a vestige of the past.

Let me remind you that both Russian and American military have acquired a useful experience of coordination of their action, established the operational channels of communication, which permitted [us] to avoid dangerous incidents and unintentional collisions in the air and on the ground.

President Trump:

We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow-up on all of the issues we addressed today and to continue the progress we have started right here in Helsinki.

Make no mistake: as a Marine fighter pilot who scrambled against Russian fighters coming out of Cuba at the height of the Cold War, I have no false illusions, but a real hope for a safer world for all combat aviators.

In an Air Power Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2015, with Russians invited, I stopped my presentation beginning at the 6:39 time hack to interject a strong signal to Russia to "knock it off" with their its pilots flying dangerously close to our non-ejection seat intelligence aircraft.

I called them "ham-fisted plumbers" flying Su-27s.

I am sure they got my point when I quoted the late great American "warrior princess" Joan Rivers, who, when faced with incredible stupidity, simply said, "Oh, grow up."

Consequently, a significant point is being overlooked, in the over-the-top hothouse media rhetoric, and even with not so friendly fire from Republicans who should know better.  True progress was made that can now continue by having Russian and U.S. national security teams engage as expressed by President Trump.  If President Trump had not gone to Helsinki to meet President Putin, the world would be a more dangerous place, especially for our serving military. 

As the history of the Cold War in the air shows, it was a constantly evolving process of human factors integrated into technology.  The Cold War ended well for humanity, and a lot of courageous pilots, bold leaders, and smart technologists deserve credit for this great victory.

The U.S. would be wise to remember the lessons learned and the loss of very good men in the air who paid in their blood for America today.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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