Tommy Lee Burgessserved his country in the Navy. He was stationed at Port Layote, Morocco. His plane was shot down over the Baltic on April 8, 1950, sparking an international crisis during the cold war era. He was officially declared dead seven years later, though his parents and brother never gave up on the possibility of his survival and future return. At the very least they hoped that his body would be returned to be buried on American soil.
For 25 years the U.S. Government claimed that the plane was on a routine training mission from Copenhagen Denmark to Wiesbaden Germany and got lost . Finally in 1975 they admitted that it was on a spy mission.
Tommy's father ,Jack Burgess, was said to be inconsolable over the loss of his son. He was an insulin dependent diabetic and grief and severe depression contributed to his noncompliance,as far as medication and diet were concerned. In 1953 he was killed in an automobile accident. His car side-swiped a large truck and he was killed instantly. It is believed that he may have gone into a diabetic coma contributing to the accident.
Many times rumors went to the press that these men (ten in all) were alive in Russian prison camps raising the hopes of Tommy's mother and brother, Jerry. I recall in 1975 that the Kansas City Star interviewed Tommy's mother at her residence in Kansas City, Kansas. They had reported that someone claimed to have seen these men in a Russian Prison Camp. She became convinced that since the USA had entered a trade agreement with the Russians for wheat that maybe they would be in a position to bargain for her son's and his crewmates release. Shebegan to believe that Tommy might be home for the next Christmas. She told us what questions to ask any man who might appear and claim to be him.
I believe that the realization that once again , our government had failed to make any true effort on the behalf of these men contributed to the rapid decline of her health and her death in 1976 or 1977.
Sometime later, Jerry was contacted by Mr. Theodore Grevers, head of Fatman's Detective Agency in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who upon the request of one of the other crew member's mother was investigating the fate of these men. He contacted Jerry several times and suggested that we write letters to several different senators and other government officials.We received the same pat answer from each one that they were very concerned and would be probing into the matter.
Mr. Grevers sent copies of records that he got released under the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. Much of the material was blacked out, as it was still considered classified material. There was mention of a young man seen at a prison camp near Vorkuta Russia who had burns to his hands and face and it was believed that this young man might be Tommy.
There was also mention of a man who had claimed to have seen a video or movie of a Russian trawler retrieving these men from the Baltic Sea and that this man disappeared from the base where he was stationed shortly after having made this claim.
When Boris Yeltsin was the leader of Russia, he visited the USA and made a stop in Wichita, Kansas, where Tommy's brother, Jerry was residing at the time.Somehow Jerry was able to obtain a meeting with Mr. Yeltsin.
According to Jerry it was an extremely brief meeting held under the wing of the plane upon which Mr. Yeltsin was to depart. Jerry said that Mr. Yeltsin placed his hand over his heart and promised from the bottom of his heart to look into the matter and do everything possible to find out whether Tommy and the others were being held in his country or if they had died in prison camps there. As far as I know this is the last Jerry heard from Mr. Yeltsin.
This is the last information that I have heard about Tommy Lee Burgess, for whom my son is named.