U-2 Pilot During Cuban Missile Crisis Dies

Richard Stephen Heyser, 81, the Air Force U-2 pilot who took the first pictures of Soviet offensive ballistic missile launch sites on Cuba during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, died Oct. 6 at a nursing home in Port St. Joe, Fla. The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 12 that Heyser, a retired lieutenant colonel, had suffered a series of strokes in recent years. Born April 3, 1927, in Apalachicola, a Florida Panhandle town, Heyser joined the Army Air Forces in 1944. He flew combat missions during the Korean War. He was 35 when he made five flights over Cuba in nine days as one of 11 USAF U-2 pilots that overflew the island nation during the crisis, taking imagery that proved the existence of the Soviet missile sites. He later served two combat tours during the Vietnam War before retiring in 1974. (For more, read Panama City’s News Herald obituary)