IWTC Monterey Commemorates 50th Anniversary of PR-21 Shootdown
By IWTC Monterey Public Affairs
MONTEREY, CA – Students and staff assigned to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey paid tribute to the crew of PR-21, April 15.
On April 15, 1969, PR-21, callsign Deep Sea 129, an EC-121M Warning Star aircraft assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaisance Squadron (VQ) 1, flew a routine reconnaissance mission over the Sea of Japan. The aircraft was shot down by two North Korean MiG-21 fighters approximately 90 nautical miles off the North Korean coast, killing all 31 crewmembers.
Fifty years later, IWTC Monterey Sailors stood in formation at the Presidio of Monterey to observe morning colors and to honor the lost crewmembers. The command choir sang the Navy Hymn as each name was read aloud. The reading was followed by two bells, a naval tradition to honor and say farewell to fallen shipmates. “Taps” was played to conclude the ceremony.
The event was organized by CTIC Jeffrey Hansen, and all roles were assigned to IWTC Monterey students.
“I think it is important to get junior Sailors involved in events that celebrate our heritage,” said Hansen. “It gives them a tangible connection to why they are here and what being a Sailor means.”
The incident holds a special significance for IWTC Monterey. Five of the Sailors killed in the shootdown were foreign language interpreters, the same role being taught to the students in attendence. Many of these students will go on to fulfill the same aircrew roles at some point in their careers.
"Today's commemoration event was a stark reminder of the inherent risks that Sailors face every time they suit up and answer our nation's calling,” said CDR Michael Salehi, commanding officer of IWTC Monterey. “Even today, linguists around the globe venture out on some of the most dangerous missions that are critical to achieving national security objectives. Our young Sailors should understand that one day they could embark on comparable missions; and while remembering past sacrifices is a good thing, it's more important that they consistently harness the same warrior mindset that was displayed by Deep Sea 129 to truly honor their legacy and confront our future operational challenges."
Following the ceremony, many attendees paid their personal respects at the nearby PR-21 Memorial Plaque. The plaque was originally dedicated at Naval Support Facility Kamiseya in 1969, moved to Misawa, Japan, and eventually placed at IWTC Monterey in 2011, where it will remain as a memorial to the fallen and a reminder of its cryptologic heritage.
“To say the least, today was a reminder that I am a Sailor first,” said SN Courtney Havrilla. “It may not be necessary to know every date of every battle of every war, but it is my duty to know where we came from.”
IWTC Monterey, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT), provides a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
With four schoolhouse commands, two detachments, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT is recognized as Naval Education and Training Command’s top learning center for the past two years. Training over 21,000 students every year, CIWT delivers trained Information Warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community