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Silent Heroes of the Cold War Ground Breaking Video

Last year we held a formal ground breaking ceremony and News 3 was on the scene to broadcast the following video:


Sidney Marr Passes

It is with profound regret that I announce the passing of Sydney Marr, 95, of Sykesville, MD. Sydney was the widow of William G. Marr, Jr., a CIA security officer who worked at Area 51 and who perished on Mt. Charleston nearly 58 years ago. William and Sydney met while both were working for the FBI and married in Salt Lake City on April 10, 1945. At the time of William’s death in 1955, Sydney was left with two young boys, William Henderson Marr, V, age 9, and Edward Blaine Marr, age 5. Not long after losing her husband she discovered she was expecting another child. Eight months later she gave birth to a baby girl named Laurel. Sydney always kept a positive attitude and was known for her kindness and uncompromising core values. She had the personal strength to keep her small family together and raised wonderful and successful children. Sydney will be missed by her family, friends and all of us working to honor her husband William and the thirteen others on USAF 9068.


Ground Breaking – Press


Introductions by Chris Hays

From Senator Reid’s office –  Marcos Ibarra.

USFS Area Manager Randy Swick

Speaking will be:

TD Barnes – President of Roadrunners Internationale (retired Area 51 employees) and member of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War SHCW committee. He will be speaking on the people that were lost at Area 51 and how the memorial will honor them. TD is also a member of the SHCW committee.

Ken Walther – Retired CIA  (he will speak on the mission of the memorial to honor all who working in secret for the US during the cold war.

Ky Plaskon – Author of SHCW Declassified.  He will be signing his book about the 1955 top-secret plane crash on Mt. Charleston.

John Harris – Project manager for the Middle Kyle Canyon Project MKCP.  John will show the plans for the multi-million dollar park being built at the Mt. Charleston site.  This will be a first look for the public of the new park.  John’s presentation will be a tour of the MKCP site.

George Tate – SHCW Architect. George will explain the design and its significance in honoring the cold war heroes.  Lane Swainston, SHCW Project Manager will assist George in his presentation

Steve Ririe – SHCW Chairman (will speak regarding how the memorial will honor those who worked in secret and clandestine operations during the cold war and the memorials benefits to the So. NV community).

CH – Introduces Steve

Insurance agent for AAA. Las Vegas Resident for 50 years. Scouts Advisor for over 25 years, Recipient of the BSA District Award, Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial Committee Chairman, Member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO),  Featured on Pawn Stars (History Channel), Featured on Mysteries at the Museum (Travel Channel)

Steve Introduces TD

TD  was with Army Intelligence in Korea. Surface to Air Missiles in Germany specializing in missile and radar electronics Hypersonic Flight Support Specialist NASA High Range for X-15, Lifting Bodies, & Lunar Lander space projects Engineer on NERVA nuclear rocket engine, CIA Special Projects Team at Area 51 for CIA A-12 spy plane, Soviet MiG exploitation, stealth, and other still classified projects.

TD introduces his crew and speaks

CH – Introduces Ken Walther

Ken Walther retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after a 27 year career (1969-1996) where he worked as a Technical Operations Officer.  During that time he spent most of his career serving on foreign assignments on five continents and in a variety of countries.  Ken served primarily under the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T), an Operational Group that developed many of the technical “gadgets” used in the collection of intelligence.  Prior to the Agency he served four years (1964 – 1968) in the Army Security Agency (ASA) with three years in Southeast Asia involved with tactical SIGINT collection.

During his career with the CIA, Mr. Walther spent 17 years serving on overseas assignments and his work led him live in seven International capitols and to visit and work in 102 countries.  Including Military service, a total of twenty years was spent overseas in which he experienced a variety of cultures, languages and learned how to work with a variety of people.  Living for extended periods of time in Asia,  Africa, Central and South America and Europe were building blocks that provided insight into people that could not come from purely academic study.  His insight into the true meaning of the “Human Condition” has helped in conducting successful operations that saved lives or improved the conditions in diverse environs.

His mission was to conduct intelligence operations toward a variety of objectives, to include: Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Espionage, Counter-Narcotics, Counter-Intelligence, and Arms Interdiction.  Although Mr. Walther’s background was primarily in Electronics and optics technology, he was trained in several disciplines aligned with the military’s Special Operations Groups.  Applying these skills, especially in what are called Denied Areas, was challenging.  During his travels and assignments Mr. Walther studied Spanish and French, which he speaks with moderate fluency, and has survival language capabilities in Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Swedish and German.

Upon Retirement from the CIA, he was allowed to retire “open” and his cover status was removed thus allowing him to reveal his Agency affiliation.  Since retirement Ken has focused on entrepreneurial projects and is the co-founder and Director of a private consulting company founded in 1996, dealing with security and technical problem solving.  He is also CEO of a small research company, Nevada Technology Catalyst Group, Inc.  In the years since retiring from Federal Service, Ken has devoted his time to activities having an impact on bettering the lives of people through technology.

CH – Introduces Ky Plaskin

Ky Plaskon has more than 20 years experience in multi-media journalism, owns the investigative Reporting Independent Service and holds a masters degree in Journalism and media studies from UNLV. He is also an avid skier and loves to try new things. Writing a book was a lifelong goal and he is author of Silent heroes of the Cold War declassified.

CH – Introduces John Harris

Middle Kyle Canyon Project Manager, USFS

John speaks and gives the tour.

We regroup

CH – Introduces George Tate and Lane Swainston

George Grew up in a small town (McGill, NV) Graduated White Pine HS in 1950. Graduated U of Utah with degrees in architecture. Commissioned, served in Corps of Engineers (was at Ft. Belvoir, VA on Nov 17, 1955) Married HS sweetheart, also from White Pine.  Two great kids: Marcel & Jason. Settled in Las Vegas in 1957.  Became licensed and started practice in 1960. Founded firm: Tate Snyder Architects, now Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects. Retired in yr. 2005.  Active member of the American Institute of Architects, for 55 yrs in LV. Currently serving on Board of Directors for Henderson Space & Science Center.

Lane is a native of Las Vegas. He can remember as a little boy watching an above ground test. Currently, Lane Swainston owns and operates four companies. During his career, he spent a period of time working at the Nuclear Test Site in Nevada. Through his life, he had an interest in the Cold War and the men, weapons, and strategies that led to the end of the Cold War.  Lane’s role related to the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Committee relate to logistics and planning for the construction of the memorial. Lane participated in the group that retrieved the propeller from the crash site at the top of the mountain.

Everyone grabs a shovel

Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial

Ground Breaking Proclamation

Gentlemen, the shovels you are now holding are the color black.  They are black for two reasons.  First, they are black to honor of the 14 men who lost their lives 57 years ago today on Mt. Charleston, not but a few short miles west of this place.  The color black is in representation of the U2 reconnaissance aircraft for which they were instrumental in developing.  The U2 spy plane played a vital role in preserving the United States through the cold war.  The names of those lost to us on November 17, 1955 are:

William H. Marr of Hyattsville, Md., chief CIA security officer for the U-2 project. He was awarded the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit posthumously.

• James F. Bray of Houston, the CIA’s regional deputy chief security assigned to Groom Lake.

• James W. “Billy” Brown of Savannah, Ga., a CIA security member.

• Staff Sgt. Clayton D. Farris of Walnut, Iowa, USAF 9068 flight mechanic technician.

• Airman 2nd Class Guy R. Fasolas of Nephi, UT United States Air Force 9068 flight attendant.

• Sgt. John H. Gaines of Ripley, Tenn., United States Air Force 9068 flight navigator.

• Richard J. Hruda of Burbank, CA,  Lockheed aeronautic and structural engineer.

• Edwin J. Urolatis of Brockton, Mass, CIA security officer.

• Rodney Kreimendahl of San Fernando Valley, CA,  Lockheed aeronautic and structural engineer

• 1st Lt. George M. Pappas of Amarillo, TX,  United States Air Force 9068 pilot. He was promoted to captain posthumously.

• 2nd Lt. Paul E. Winham of San Antonio, TX, United States Air Force 9068 co-pilot.

• Fred F. Hanks of Sierra Madre, CA,  Photographic specialist.

• Harold C. Silent of Glendora CA 59 Photographic Consultant and Physicist.

• Terence J. O’Donnell of Parkchester, Bronx, NY,  CIA security officer

The second reason your shovels are the color black is in honor of ALL those who served our country in covert missions and clandestine projects during the cold war, those who lost their lives in black operations for whom their contributions have been purposefully erased from history.  Today, November 17, 2012, we break ground with black shovels in representation of the secret nature of their work and ultimate sacrifice.  When this memorial is constructed and dedicated, it will bring into the light the gratitude of the people of the United States of America for all such heroes.  Gentlemen, at this time I would ask you to begin the construction of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War by breaking what will then become sacred ground…

 (after breaking ground)

Gentleman – thank you.

Call Up Steve for closing remarks



Ground Breaking on the 57th Anniversary of the top-secret crash of USAF 9068 at Mt. Charleston, NV

Cold War MonumentWe are happy to announce the Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial SHCWNM Ground Breaking on the 57th Anniversary of the top-secret crash of USAF 9068 at Mt. Charleston, NV. The Ground Breaking event will be on Nov 17, 2012. It will be held at the Middle Kyle Canyon Project Site on Highway 157 heading up Kyle Canyon, Mt. Charleston, NV. The Middle Kyle Canyon Project site is just east of the Mt. Charleston Hotel. The event will run from 10am to 2pm. Speaking at the event will be:

Ky Plaskon – author of Silent Heroes of the Cold War Declassified (books will be available for purchase and Ky will be signing)

John Harris – USFS Middle Kyle Canyon Project Manager – John will be unveiling details regarding the Middle Kyle Canyon park, visitors center, and gift shop that will soon be constructed.

Steve Ririe – Chairman of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial Committee. Steve will tell the story of the 1955 top-secret plane crash on Mt. Charleston.

TD Barnes – Retired Special Projects Manager Area 51. TD will talk about his experience at Area 51 and the heroes that were lost.

Ken Walther – Retired CIA Operative. Ken will speak about the need for a memorial to honor all heroes that worked in secret during the cold war.

George Tate – SHCW Memorial Architect and Lane Swainston – SHCW Project Manager. George and Lane will unveil the memorial design, explain the significance designed into the memorial, and answer questions regarding it construction.

The event is open to the public.

Also in attendance will be:

Frank Murphy, former CIA A-12 pilot stationed at Area 51. Frank spotted the USS Pueblo that was captured by North Korea in 1968.

Bob Murphy, former Lockheed engineer stationed at Area 51. Bob was scheduled to fly to Area 51 on November 17, 1955 but he missed his flight.

Also, two Area 51 base commanders will also be in attendance.

As part of this event, the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame will be having a Banquet that evening at 6 p.m. at the Henderson Executive Air Terminal. CIA Pilot Frank Murphy will be inducted into the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame. This event is open to the public and reservations can be made by going to their website nvahof.org.

Directions to the Middle Kyle Canyon Project Site: Take Federal Hwy 95 heading north toward Reno. As you leave Las Vegas go 2.5 miles to State Hwy 157 and take a left turn. The sign on Hwy 95 indicates that Hwy 157 is the Mt. Charleston exit. Go another 15 to 20 miles till you arrive at the Middle Kyle Canyon Project Site (just before the Mt. Charleston Hotel).


Researchers find US Air Force Douglas C-124A Globemaster II that crashed 60 years ago in Alaska

Globmaster II Alaska CrashAs reported by the Daily Mail UK, Wreckage found on an Alaskan glacier is the remains of a missing Air Force plane that crashed in the 1950s, killing all 52 people on board.

Authorities revealed today the site has been identified after it was discovered on Knik Glacier near Anchorage earlier this month.

It means the victims’ families may finally get answers as to why their loved ones died nearly 60 years on from the tragedy.

This is near to our hearts as we know what they will have to go through to contact all of the families of the victims as we did for the Mt Charleston crash.

View full article here.


Approval of Construction on Cold War Memorial

UPDATE – On February 3rd, 2012 the Forest Service officially approved of the construction of the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial. As previously planned, it will be built as part of the Kyle Canyon Project at Mt. Charleston, Nevada. This is the first time such a project has been approved by the USFS. The Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial will be the first and only memorial built on USFS land. It would not have been possible without the work of many in the Forest Service and with the help of Senator Reid and his Senior Policy Advisor Robert Herbert.

The Silent Heroes of the Cold War Committee expresses it’s gratitude to John Harris, Kyle Canyon Project Manager. And there are and have been others that have helped us over the years.

Once built, this memorial will stand as the only recognition of America’s heroes who worked in secret during the cold war. These are not forgotten heroes. These heroes are the unknown heroes that worked in classified top-secret projects and missions. Without many of their contributions the cold war could have ended very differently up to and including all out nuclear warfare. Even so, most of their contributions will never be known or fully understood. It is therefore our responsibility to do all we can to recognize these heroes and give proper thanks as we express our gratitude.

In the letter of approval Harv Forsgren, Regional Forester, stated: “I applaud your efforts in this partnership endeavor and approve the construction of the Cold War Memorial at the Middle Kyle Canyon site. The partnership that the forest has forged with the Silent Heroes of the Cold War group is an invaluable asset to the forest and district and serves as an example of the type of relationship with the private sector that the agency should be doing more of. . . Good luck with this project. We look forward to visiting the site to see the outcome in the next couple of years.”

Although we have been working closely with the USFS for over one decade, nevertheless, this is an important hurtle. Now we move into full gear to raise the additional $170,000 needed for construction. Again, special thanks to all mentioned and not mentioned that have been passionate about the memorial and have played a role in getting us one step closer to constructing and dedicating the Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Memorial.

— Steve Ririe, Chairman Feb 5, 2012


U.S. may rely on aging U-2 spy planes for quite awhile

Great article on the continued use of the U-2 Spy Plane


U-2 Spyplane Information you did not know about

U-2 Spyplanes; we know that they were designed and built by Lockheed for the CIA in the early 1950’s, to conduct clandestine over-flights of Soviet Russia, China, Cuba and other denied areas of the world. They became the most important source of Soviet intelligence in US history at that time.

Our overt knowledge of the U-2 came crashing into the world’s collective consciousness on May 1st 1960, when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in his U-2C over Sverdlovsk, Russia.

Within days of the shoot-down, Dr. Hugh Dryden, director of NASA, reiterated the agency’s previous (May 1956) statements that the U-2 aircraft was a new research tool for high-altitude atmospheric and meteorological research, flown with the logistical and technical support of the Air Force.

U-2 Historians have point to these and subsequent statements by NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), as the US government’s first “cover story” to mask the true covert operational use of these new U-2 aircraft by the CIA.

The reality, from subsequent declassified government documents now reveals that, at the time Dryden made those proclamations in May 1956, the first U-2 aircraft were just becoming operational with the CIA. Within a month, the CIA conducted their first operational over-flights, conducted over Poland and East Germany. By the 4th of July 1956, the CIA had flown three more over-flights of Eastern Europe, including the very first clandestine over-flight of the Soviet Union.

Its important to note, that the US Air Force would not receive their first five U-2 aircraft until June 1957 and NASA wouldn’t finally get their (first) two U-2 aircraft until June 1971.

Looking back to when Dr. Dryden announced the peaceful scientific research purposes of the U-2 to the press in May 1960, after the Powers shoot-down, its now evident that he wasn’t actually lying. By that point, Air Force U-2 were conducting peaceful, high-altitude atmospheric and meteorological research flights throughout the world and would continue to do so until 1968.

Source: Dreamland Resort

© 2011 Silent Heroes of the Cold War National Monument
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