Valentines for Freedom
In Bismarck, North Dakota, local Eagles Fraternal Order, from the steps of the main post office, launched twenty-one balloons on February 12, 1955, in support of the Crusade for Freedom and Radio Free Europe. In the balloons, were Freedom Scrolls, contribution envelopes, and a letter from the Bismarck Eagles offering a $5.00-prize: one prize was for the first reporting back of a balloon and the other for the reporting farthest from Bismarck. All persons who reported on the balloon received $2.00. Balloons were found in both North and South Dakota – one landed 153 miles away in South Dakota. By February 25, 1955, ten postcards had been returned.
The Eagles’ balloon launching was in support of the “Valentines for Freedom” theme that originated from 15-year-old, St. Mary’s High School sophomore, Patty Collins of Bismarck, who had first suggested that the balloons launched over the Iron Curtain contain valentines from American children.
A photograph on the front page of the Bismarck Tribune showed her standing in front of a Crusade for Freedom poster and had this caption: “Her idea wings to Europe ...Patty Collins extends her smile of freedom to children in oppressed Iron Curtain countries through her “Valentines for Freedom” idea, which has caught on and is expected to go into a national program.”
The article, “Valentines for Reds,” explained that Patty Collins first broached the idea in the eighth grade. She said, “It really wasn’t anything very important. I just happened to suggest that we collect the money we ordinarily would spend for valentines and send it to the Crusade for Freedom and name it ‘Valentines for Freedom.” She added, “"Nearly $20 from 15 students was collected."
The Bismarck Eagles also sponsored a contest for school children with the best valentine to be “sent behind the Iron Curtain” in Free Europe Press balloons launched from Germany. Judges were announced and the first prize for the “best” valentine was $15. All valentines were then put on display in the Eagles building from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Carlos' Valentine Present for RFE/RL
Carlos set February 14, 1981, Valentine’s Day, as the date for the bombing of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in Munich. However, ETA could not provide the necessary vehicles for the February 14th bombing, and the attack was postponed for one week. Carlos called his Romanian Intelligence Service contact “Andrei” in Bucharest on February 13, 1980,and in guarded terms told him that there was a delay in “Steve’s” activities: “Steve cannot travel to Bucharest this weekend but will travel a few days later”. The bombing took place on February 21, 1981.
Valentine's Day 1986
Soviet Intelligence officer Viktor P. Gundarev defected to the West in Athens, Greece, on Valentine's Day, Friday, February 14, 1986. The first media reports of Gundarev's defection appeared a week after his defection. He was about fifty years old and a Colonel in the KGB. His defection unleashed a chain of events that lead to the unmasking of KGB agents in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Apparently fearing arrest, RFE/RL Russian Service employee Oleg Tumanov, one KGB agent at RFE/RL, fled Germany.