Highway marker honors U-2 spy pilot

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Francis Gary Powers, who became a Cold War icon when his U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, was honored yesterday when the state unveiled a highway marker outside his hometown. "It is about time!" exclaimed his sister Joyce Stallard of Pound. "It's long overdue. Even if he was my brother, he was a hero."

Stallard was among a crowd of dozens, including Powers' son, Francis Gary Powers Jr. of Midlothian, who attended a brief ceremony yesterday along U.S. 23 to pay tribute to the CIA pilot who spent 21 months as a prisoner of the Soviet Union after his plane was shot down in 1960.

Along with the Berlin airlift, the Cuban missile crisis and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's shoe-banging rant at the United Nations, the downing of Powers' reconnaissance plane over Sverdlovsk on May 1, 1960, ranks as one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War.

Powers Jr. recalled his father as a man who always remained proud of his roots in this small, mountain town and never let his pivotal role in the Cold War swell his head.

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