The American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency U-2 spy plane was shot down in 1960 over the Soviet Union is set to receive a Silver Star posthumously.
An Air Force report last year said that the U-2 pilot distinguished himself with his gallantry during harsh interrogation in Soviet prisons.
On Feb. 10, 1962, Powers was exchanged along with American student Frederic Pryor in a well publicized spy swap for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel), a Soviet colonel who was caught by the FBI and put in jail for espionage, at the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, Germany.
In 1998, newly declassified information revealed that Powers’ mission had been a joint USAF/CIA operation. In 2000, on the 40th anniversary of the U-2 Incident, his family was presented his posthumously awarded Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, and National Defense Service Medal. In addition, CIA Director George Tenet authorized Powers to posthumously receive the CIA’s coveted Director’s Medal for extreme fidelity and extraordinary courage in the line of duty. He was awarded the CIA’s Intelligence Star in 1963 after his return from the Soviet Union.
Powers died in a 1977 helicopter crash.
His son, Francis Gary Powers Jr., told the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier that the award is a wonderful honor and that the family is humbled.