By Robert Bordelon
On an airstrip in Key West, Florida, on May 17, 1967, a newly purchased Cessna 150 plane sat on the airstrip. The tower had given the plane a go ahead 45 minutes before for a sightseeing flight that would have lasted about an hour. Instead of immediately taking off, the owner of the plane sat on the strip, to the confusion of the tower. Finally, U.S. Army Major Richard Harwood Pearce, 36, and his 4-year-old son took off in the small plane. Their intention, however, was not a small sightseeing flight during Pearce's 12-day vacation. Pearce, who, according to The Washington Evening Star, had "an unblemished Army record as well as access to top-secret information," changed course after take off and directed his plane to the capital of the Communist government of Cuba, Havana.
Years earlier, in the fall of 1960, Pearce was a captain assigned to the Greenbrier Military School to teach military science and tactics. He was remembered as a man who "used to walk three to four miles to school each day, winter or summer, [despite the fact] he had a car." Students remembered him as a guy hard to get to know.
Read more in the Wednesday, January 31, edition of The West Virginia Daily News.