9. Editorial Note

On January 28, 1964, a Soviet fighter shot down a U.S. T–39 training aircraft over East Germany. The three U.S. officers aboard were killed. At noon on January 28 Secretary of Defense McNamara telephoned President Johnson to brief him on the incident. McNamara told Johnson the flight had been cleared “only for local flying,” but, probably due to bad weather and failure of its communication equipment, it had strayed into East German airspace. McNamara assured the President that the aircraft was not on an intelligence mission. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation, Tape F64.08, Side A, PNO 6) The Soviet note protesting the intrusion, January 29, and the U.S. oral reply, made to Soviet Deputy Chief of Mission Kornienko the same day, are printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pages 526–527. In its reply, the United States called the Soviet action an “inexcusably brutal act of violence against an unarmed aircraft.”