News from campus and beyond

Memorial rededication to honor Greenville pilot

OCTOBER 25, 2012
by John Roberts, Newspage editor

Representatives from Furman, Greenville City and the Upcountry History Museum will gather Saturday to rededicate a memorial to Greenville native Rudolf Anderson Jr. on the 50th anniversary of the Greenville pilot’s death.

Anderson’s U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down October 27, 1962 high over Cuba during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The next day, Anderson’s photo appeared on the front page of The Greenville News under the headline “Greenville pilot is first casualty” .

Thankfully, he was only casualty of a crisis that brought the Soviet Union and the U.S. to the brink of World War III.

Just days after Anderson’s death, the Soviets agreed to remove nuclear weapons from Communist Cuba. The crisis came to an end. And, except in Greenville, Anderson’s role in the conflict was mostly forgotten.

A year after the pilot’s death, city fathers dedicated a memorial to the Greenville High graduate in Cleveland Park. The mounted F-86 Sabre Jet, similar to the plane Anderson flew during the Korean War, has been a curious attraction to passing pedestrians for nearly five decades.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Anderson’s death Greenville City, Furman and the Upcountry History Museum launched an effort last spring to refurbish the memorial.

Furman history professor Courtney Tollison spent months researching Anderson’s life and his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Her work was used to craft language on 13 granite markers that have been placed around the newly landscaped memorial. The markers recount the events of the 13-day crisis.

Tollison’s work also contributed to One known soldier, a 14-minute documentary on Anderson’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The film was produced by Emmy award-wining broadcasters Jane Robelot and Mario deCarvalho.

The rededication of the memorial will begin 11:30 a.m., Saturday at the corner of McDaniel Avenue and Ridgeland Drive. The public is invited to attend.

Event speakers include President Rod Smolla, Greenville Mayor Knox White, Tollison, U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy and Brigadier General Gerald E. McIlmoyle (retired).

In Sunday’s edition, the Greenville News published a lengthy feature on Anderson, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the memorial. The article has been posted online.

Last updated February 17, 2016
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