Two U.S. Air Force officers, repatriated after 10 days in Russia, said yesterday that they were beaten and one of them nearly hanged after they had parachuted from their plane shot down by Soviet fighters.
Colonel Dale D Brannon said that some Armenian peasants “grabbed me from behind all of a sudden and beat in my face with their fists and kicked me in the body”.
Major Benny A Shupe, 33, was “threatened with hanging”, said Colonel Brannon. “The rope was attached to a telephone pole and the noose was placed over his head when he managed to convey to them that he was an American.”
The two officers were members of the nine-man crew of an Air Force C-118 unarmed transport aircraft on a routine cargo flight from Wiesbaden (West German) to Teheran and Pakistan, when, due to thunderstorms and electrical disturbances, it lost its way and crossed into Soviet air space.
Major Shupe said: “When I landed with my parachute, a group of 30 to 35 people gathered around me. I was tied up and beaten around the face. They treated us pretty rough.
“I was put into a truck and the beating went on until the truck stopped and I was taken out. I could see they were planning to hang me. Then I heard a voice say two words: “New York-Chicago”. I started naming all the major cities of the US that I could think of. The group then paused for a discussion and shortly some Soviet military police arrived and took me into custody.”
He said that once in the hands of the military they were well cared for.