June 23, 2024

The image above shows the first to fourth reconnaissance missions completed under Project TACKLE, as listed in the documents of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It can be observed that all the mission numbers are even, so the question arises: do missions with the designations GRC 101, GRC 103, and GRC 105 exist, or is it just an American superstition against odd numbers?

From the following telegram, it can be confirmed that the GRC 101 mission indeed existed. The original execution date indicated on the telegram was January 28, 1962, scheduled for takeoff at 2253Z, equivalent to local time 0653 on the morning of the 29th. However, the weather forecast prior to the mission showed unfavorable conditions in the target area, so the execution had to be postponed. This explains why the date on the telegram was changed from the 28th to the 30th.

Unfortunately, the weather conditions continued to be unfavorable, and on the 30th, the CIA once again postponed the GRC 101 mission to February 1st, and later to February 2nd, ultimately deciding to cancel it. The following telegram indicates the cancellation of both the GRC 101 and the originally planned 3063 North Vietnam mission, which was supposed to be executed by an American pilot, due to weather conditions (cancelled due wx):

The key point is the second point in the telegram. Considering that it had already been postponed twice, why couldn’t it be postponed again? It turns out that Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and also the Attorney General at the time, was scheduled to visit Japan and Indonesia between February 4th and 19th, with a stopover in Taiwan. The Department of State requested the CIA to suspend all U-2 missions during this period, and the U-2 Program Headquarters canceled these two missions accordingly. As for whether the government of Taiwan was aware of this situation, personally, I believe they were not, because the weather conditions in the target area were indeed unfavorable. If the government had known about it, it might have had a negative impact on this newly established reconnaissance cooperation. History has shown us that the CIA canceled missions numerous times under Project TACKLE due to political considerations within the United States. However, the Taiwan government (actually Chiang Ching-Kuo) was also a tough nut to crack. In the later stages of the program, they frequently used various excuses to deny the CIA’s mission requests.

After Robert F. Kennedy returned to the United States, the GRC 101 mission was directly renumbered as GRC 102 and scheduled for execution on February 20th. However, due to unfavorable weather conditions in the target area, the mission was further postponed. The CIA instructed Detachment H in Taoyuan to also prepare for the backup mission, GRC 103, on February 23rd. The content of the mission was identical to GRC 102, but it would be canceled if GRC 102 was successfully executed. The following telegram is the standby order for the GRC 103 mission, where in the fifth point, it can be seen that it was a backup mission:

The GRC 102 mission was eventually carried out by Gimo Yang on February 22nd (for more information about this mission, refer to the article “Mission GRC 102 by Gimo Yang”), so GRC 103 was subsequently canceled.

The next mission, GRC 104, was originally scheduled for takeoff on March 11th but was again postponed by 24 hours due to unfavorable weather conditions in the target area. The CIA instructed Detachment H to be on standby for the preparatory GRC 105 mission. As a result, GRC 104 was successfully executed on the 12th by Mike Hua (華錫鈞) although the actual weather in the target area was much worse than forecasted, and GRC 105 was consequently canceled.

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