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Published: Friday, 12/16/2011

USAF awards Silver Star posthumously to Powers

Spy plane pilot shot down over USSR in 1960


WASHINGTON — The Air Force says it will award a Silver Star posthumously to Francis Gary Powers, the pilot whose spy plane was shot down in 1960 over the Soviet Union in a defining moment of the Cold War.

A November report by the Air Force says that the U-2 pilot distinguished himself with his gallantry during harsh interrogation in Soviet prisons.

Powers was swapped for a Soviet spy in February 1962 in Berlin. He died in a 1977 helicopter crash.

Francis Gary Powers Jr. said the decision is further vindication of his father, who was criticized by some at the time.

Powers Sr. posthumously was awarded a military POW medal and a CIA medal in 2000, after incident records were unsealed. The U-2 overflights were a joint CIA-Air Force program.

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