Walter Reca: Covert Operative

Walter Reca: Covert Operative

After the events of November 24, 1971, Walter’s number one goal was to disappear in plain sight. If he was to remain a free man, he could not do anything suspicious.

As an expert parachutist and a man with numerous black marks on his record, Walter should have been a prime suspect in this investigation. However, he was never interrogated about the skyjacking. Incredibly, his parachuting friend Don Brennan, who had picked up Walt in Cle Elum that night, was questioned by authorities and released. Walter must have breathed an enormous sigh of relief.

The Monday after the skyjacking, Walter had returned to work with a limp. When his supervisor questioned the injury, Walt was sent to the doctor and then to an office job in Spokane while his leg healed. For a little while, it seemed he had gotten away with everything.

About two months after the skyjacking, Walt went out for a drink after work at the Brown Derby Bar. He was joined by two men who he’d met earlier that day on the job. Walter had never seen them before, but he was never one to turn down a drink.

As they sat in the bar, the conversation suddenly turned from casual to deadly serious. One of the men turned to Walt and said, “Do you want to go to prison for the rest of your life?”

Startled, Walter replied, “No.”

“Then you work for us,” the man said, and the two of them left Walt at the restaurant without another word.

It was blackmail, pure and simple.

Somehow, someone had discovered his secret. A few weeks later, Walt’s phone rang. He heard a voice saying, “Walter Peca, eight o’clock tomorrow morning, be at the Spokane Airport. There’s a plane ticket with your name on it. Get on that plane.”

What could he do? Walter did as he was told.

The plane he boarded was heading to Boise, Idaho. Upon arrival, a man recognized him and another passenger on sight. The man took them to a restaurant and began asking them questions. They were then taken to another building near a college campus where Walt would be questioned for the next four days. None of the questions involved the skyjacking or his work with the union.

When it was over, Walt was shipped back home to resume work. Over the next few years, he would receive the same treatment - mysterious phone call, marching orders, endless questions, and eventually training before returning home. Finally, Walter received his first official intelligence operative assignment in 1974.

Ready to dive deeper? Purchase the memoir D.B. Cooper & Me here.
See the evidence for yourself - watch the documentary "D.B. Cooper: The Real Story" here.

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