Linda Rios Bromley, DRHS61, wrote her first non-fiction veterans’ memoirs book in 2005 which was a great success at the reunion of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing veterans who called Del Rio home from 1956 to 1963. The book titled FREEDOM FLIGHT chronicled the early life of Robin Yeh, a Taiwanese U-2 pilot, who trained at Laughlin AFB in 1963. Major Yeh returned to Taiwan after training at Laughlin, and flew reconnaissance missions over Mainland China. On November 1, 1963, his thirtieth birthday, Major Yeh was shot down over Mainland China, captured and held for almost twenty years.
Some of the attendees at the 2005 reunion were parents of former students of DRHS, such as Ray Lucas, father of Barbara Lucas Beckett. While at the reunion, Linda met many attendees who told of their interesting and sometimes dangerous missions with the U-2 spy plane. Hearing such awesome stories, Linda was inspired to begin a collection of memoirs of the men who worked in secret during those years with the 4080th SRW.
Linda’s parents, Bill and Nina Merle Rios, were friends with Jerry and Patty McIlmoyle. Jerry, one of the original U-2 Cuban Missile Crisis pilots, had connections with the entire flying cadre and helped to interest many of the veterans in the project. Jerry and Linda teamed up to collect memoirs and photos of the U-2 days from pilots, maintenance technicians, camera specialists and even some wives. The stories cover many of the geographic locations where the unit had temporary detachments such as Alaska, South America, and Vietnam.
Through Linda’s website www.peoplestoriesunlimited.com, a publisher in England, Helion & Co. Ltd. contacted her with an offer to publish REMEMBERING THE DRAGON LADY, Memoirs of the Men Who Experienced the Legend of the U-2 Spy Plane. The book is available at The Emporium in Del Rio and on Amazon.com in print or ebook.
Through interaction with Lockheed Skunk Works, manufacturer of the U-2 spy plane, Linda was invited to come to Palmdale, California for a tour of the plane where the planes are built.
Subsequently veterans of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Association learned of Linda’s book about the U-2, and two of them contacted her to enlist her help in putting together a similar book for that organization. WE SERVED WITH HONOR, Memoirs of the Men Who Served the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, is in publication at Helion & Co. Ltd. and is scheduled to be available on Amazon.com in December 2013. Preceding the 4080th SRW, the 91st SRW was activated in November 1948 and was deactivated November 1957. The pilots of the 91st SRW flew reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union many years before the May 1960 shoot down of a U-2 over that country which made the spy plane a household name in the US. Both Air Force units operated under Top Secret conditions and little was known about their operation until many years later.
Helion & Co. Ltd invited Linda to rewrite FREEDOM FLIGHT which will be released in 2014 under the title FLIGHT OF THE DRAGON.