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U-2 Incident Flameout Theory Shot Down
Francis Gary Powers to Posthumously Receive Prisoner of War Medal.
(Fairfax, VA - April 13, 2000) Earlier this month researchers at the National Archives found definitive proof concerning the cause of the U-2 Incident of May 1, 1960. After nearly forty years of secrecy, the truth can now be told. According to recently declassified debriefing transcripts of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, he was at 70,000 feet in his U-2 spy plane when a bright orange flash lit up the U-2 canopy. The near miss of a Soviet SAM II missile had exploded near the fragile tail section of the aircraft causing structural failure. As a result, Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, captured, and sentenced to ten years in prison.

The U-2 Incident, as it came to be known, was an international incident that caught an American President lying to the American public for the first time, something we take for granted nowadays. It also exposed that the American government had a spy agency, the CIA, which today is a household word. In addition, the May 16, 1960 Paris Summit Conference collapsed when Soviet Premier Khrushchev walked out after President Eisenhower refused to apologize.

According to Francis Gary Powers, Jr., the pilots son and founder of the Cold War Museum, "Over the last forty years various conspiracy theories and rumors circulated, casting doubt on my father's performance during this mission. The contents of my father's debriefing transcripts will put to rest once and for all the misinformation and speculation as to the cause of the U-2 Incident, which range from sabotage and an American government cover-up to my father's corroboration with the Soviets. This could not have come at a better time, because Francis Gary Powers will be posthumously awarded the Prisoner of War Medal on May 1, 2000 at Beale Air Force base in California in conjunction with a 40th Anniversary Commemoration of the U-2 Incident."

In 1996, Francis Gary Powers, Jr. and John C. Welch founded the Cold War Museum, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to education, preservation, and research on the global, ideological, and political confrontations between East and West from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Cold War Museum is currently soliciting financial and artifact donations of Cold War related artifacts and memorabilia for display and public education. Tax-deductible contributions to the museum will ensure that future generations will remember Cold War events and personalities that forever altered our understanding of national security, international relations, and personal sacrifice for one's country.

A mobile exhibit about the U-2 Incident and U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers is currently traveling around the world promoting interest in the creation of the permanent Cold War Museum. The mobile U-2 exhibit has been displayed at the Bodo, Norway Aviation Center, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National War College, the Defense Intelligence Agency, as well as the USAF, Strategic Air Command, and National Atomic Museums. It is currently on display at the Allied Museum in Berlin, Germany until July 1, 2000.

Through educational programs, a reference library, a web site, a Cold War Memorial, and a Spy Tour of Washington, D.C., the Cold War Museum has enlisted various elements of the Cold War community in their effort to maintain historical accuracy for the benefit of the public while strengthening the resources available for the study of the Cold War. The Cold War Museum will help show future generations the fears, divisions, and dangers that the Cold War brought and reflect upon the global geopolitical climate in which many of us grew up.

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