19. Telegram From the Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Force in Europe1

Personal for General Disosway from General McKee. This message refers to the RB–66 incident which occurred this morning. The President wants you to know that he is deeply concerned. He does not understand how this could have happened, particularly in light of the recent T–39 incident. He further wants to know why we violate East German air space this frequently when the Russians appear to be able to prevent similar incidents with respect to our Allied air space. Or do they and, if so, how frequently? Immediate answer to the above needed.2

It is imperative that you take action to prevent similar incidents in the future. Two incidents of this nature in a short period of time are cause for deep concern. Let me know action taken soonest.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Germany, RB–66. Secret; Immediate. No time of transmission is on the source text. The message was written by General William F. McKee, USAF. On March 10, Soviet aircraft intercepted and shot down a U.S. RB–66 airplane that was in East German air space.
  2. The U.S. Command in Europe provided an initial appraisal of the incident in a March 10 telephone report. A transcript of this report, provided to the White House, is included in a memorandum from Arthur McCafferty of the NSC Staff to McGeorge Bundy. (Ibid.) Subsequently, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force in Europe, provided a fuller assessment in telegram ECJO 655, March 16. (Ibid.)