This flight suit was worn by Cdr. William Ecker on October 23, 1962 on the first low level reconnaissance mission during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis is one of the most pivotal events of the Cold War and one of the closest moments of nuclear conflict between the United States and USSR. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson used the photographs taken by Ecker at the United Nations as proof that the USSR installed nuclear ballistic missiles in Cuba and turned world opinion against the Soviet Union.
Because of the top secret nature of their mission, Ecker’s unit was ordered to not wear any insignia on the flight suit. It does not even have his name tag over either of the top pockets.
On the back written in black marker is "R. C. B. Det." When the pilots and maintenance crew were waiting in Key West during the days leading up to the first flights over Cuba, a popular song on the Juke Box was "Cotton Fields" by the Highwaymen. The members of the unit liked the reference in that song to "Rotten Cotton Balls" so they gave themselves the nickname of the "Rotten Cotton Ball Detachment" and "R. C. B. Det." was printed on the back of the unit’s flight suits.
Donated by the Family of Capt. William B. Ecker.
Date: October 23, 1962
Clothing: 147.3 x 55.9 x 2.5cm (58 x 22 x 1 in.)
Clothing Size: 38 Long
Overall: fire resistant cotton
United States Navy (USN) khaki one piece coverall flight suit; two breast pockets with button flap; two shin pockets with button flap; one zipper pencil pocket on upper left arm; attached waist belt; zipper down front pleated shoulders; manufacture tag inside collar (see marks for full text); two side zippers located at waist; faded hand written text on back in marker ink "RCB DET".