Casualty of the War on Drugs

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Counterdrug efforts in the 1990s included gathering intelligence information on drug traffickers. On April 24, 1992, a C-130H flown by the 310th Airlift Squadron at Howard Air Force Base, Panama, was on such a mission when it was intercepted 60 miles off the coast of Peru by two Peruvian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter fighters. Despite being clearly marked as an unarmed U.S. Air Force transport aircraft and being in international airspace, the C-130 was attacked by the two Su-22s with cannon fire.

Six of the fourteen crewmembers were injured, and Master Sgt. Joseph C. Beard Jr. died when he was blown from a hole in the rapidly decompressing aircraft. For his efforts, Master Sgt. Beard received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The C-130 crew received the 1992 Mackay Trophy for extraordinary resourcefulness and unusual presence of mind during an unprovoked attack in international airspace. This plaque commemorates this episode in the war on drugs.

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