Jim Long, Chairman of the Board of the Laughlin Heritage Foundation (LHF) has died, age 82. The LHF was created in Del Rio, TX in 1983, to record and promote the memory of the US Air Force’s RB-57D and U-2A wing. The 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was based at Laughlin AFB from 1957 until moving to Davis-Monthan AFB in 1963.

I will always be indebted to Jim for facilitating my attendance at reunions organized by the LHF. My first visit to one of these was in 1987. Despite being an outsider – and moreover, an ‘alien’ from across the water! – I was well received by the distinguished crowd (right). The stories that they told made key contributions to my first book DRAGON LADY, which was published in 1989.

I returned to the remote border town in southwest Texas for three more reunions. At the last of these in 2008, an official state plaque to Operation Brass Knob was unveiled. This was the 4080th Wing’s finest hour, when it flew repeatedly over Cuba during the Missile Crisis.

Jim was a quiet Army veteran, but he embraced and perpetuated this remarkable Air Force history with enthusiasm and dedication. He was generous with his time helping myself and other researchers. He made some important contributions.

Thanks to Jim and his colleagues in the LHF, a small museum was opened in downtown Del Rio (left). It tells the story of the wing through a unique set of displays, including original U-2 cameras. Meanwhile, an original U-2 56-6707 is on display at the entrance to Laughlin AFB, which is now a pilot training base.




  1. Well said, Chris. Jim was always in the shadows but his presence was always felt, appreciated and respected for his dedication to the history of the U-2. Pat H


  2. Thank you so very much, Mr. Pocock, for honoring our dad in this way. He greatly valued your friendship and your work to compile, share, and honor the stories and all of the men and women involved in this part of our history with the world.



  3. Cheers Chris: An interesting piece of history. I remember purchasing your first book while at Beale as the 99th SRS Commander. Rick


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s