30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Eugene C. Buttyan
Gene Buttyan joined the U.S. Air Force in January 1951 where he completed basic training at Samson, NY. He was first stationed in Texas at Laredo AFB and graduated from USAF pilot training on May 1, 1953. By May 1968, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
During his years of service, Gene was stationed at Bainbridge AFB, GA; Nellis AFB, NV; Long Beach, CA; Osan, Korea; Misawa, Japan; Luke AFB, AZ; Tuy Hoa, South Vietnam; Udorn, Thailand, and finally, Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, NM.
Gene flew 514 combat mission sorties, earning the Silver Star with 2 oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Flying Cross with 20 oak leaf clusters, 38 Air Medals, and numerous lesser medals.
Gene retired after 23 years on August 31, 1974, as a LtCol. From 1974 to 1981, Gene signed on with Flight Systems Inc. based in Newport Beach, CA. While there he served as program director and test pilot.