Intelligence Squadron honors EC-47 back-enders

Squadron Honors Members from the 6994th Security Squadron

by Staff Sgt. Christopher
94th Intelligence Squadron

6/19/2015 - Arlington National Cemetery, Va. -- On May 20, the men and women of the 94th Intelligence Squadron (IS) held two events at Arlington National Cemetery to honor members of the 6994th Security Squadron and its EC-47 Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) mission during the Vietnam War.

The 6994th Security Squadron, one of the most decorated units of the United States Air Force Security Service.  As in their motto "Alone, unarmed, and unafraid," the 6994th ARDF crew members manned the back of the plane and were therefore known as back-enders.  They flew in partnership with the 360th, 361st and 362nd Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons' pilots, navigators and flight engineers, also known as front-enders, in and around Vietnam, where they had one of the highest casualty rates of any Air Force Security Service Unit.  

In coordination with the Vietnam War Commemorative Partner Program, the men and women of the 94th IS performed a wreath laying ceremony at the Memorial for the crew of an EC-47 aircraft, call sign Baron 52, that was shot down over Laos in February, 1973.  All eight crew members of Baron 52 are interred in a group memorial at Arlington. 

The ceremony opened with the posting of the colors by the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing (ISRW) Honor Guard, and singing of the National Anthem by the 94th IS choir--aptly named Baron 52. 

Chief Master Sgt. retired, Bill Francis, from the 6994th spoke about the ARDF mission, and linked today's Airman's Creed as he told the story of the sacrifices made by the Baron 52 crew members.  Francis' remarks were followed by Lt. Col. Tim Richardson, Commander, 94th IS, who highlighted the similarities of the missions between the Combat Cougars of the  EC-47 generation and the missions the Cougars of the 94th IS execute today.

"Whether you call it Electronic Warfare of the Combat Cougar generation, where they provided real-time intelligence to both ground and air forces in Vietnam, or you call it Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance of our current generation, the mission is still about finding our enemies, using cryptologic equipment and cryptologic skills, and removing them from the battlefield," remarked Richardson.

The second event was focused on the repatriation and interment of Staff Sgt. James Dorsey, whose EC-47 aircraft, Cap 72, was shot down over Laos in February, 1969.  Dorsey's remains had recently been identified through DNA testing, and his family opened up his ceremony for attendance to the 6994th veterans and the 94th IS. 

During the procession, active duty Airmen of the 94th IS formed a line flanking the street to render a salute to the caisson as it carried the remains of Sergeant Dorsey.  Richardson presented the Dorsey family with flowers as well as a thank you note for allowing the squadron to participate in the service.

Later that evening, the Dorsey family and the veterans of the 6994th joined 94th IS members for a potluck style dinner and social hour at the American Legion in Severn, Maryland.

"Today is a special day.  One that we have set aside to remind us of and to think about the service and the sacrifices of the veterans from the 6994th--men who bravely and selflessly sacrificed their lives for something greater than themselves," said Richardson.

"While we gather here at our National Cemetery, the week before Memorial Day, at the site where the crew of Baron 52 is laid to rest, we are somberly reminded that indeed, the freedoms that we enjoy today have never been free."

(Editor's note: Last names withheld for security)