Gazette photographer Larry Mayer receives Congressional citation for photo of spy balloon

Billings Gazette

Long-time Billings Gazette photographer Larry Mayer has received a Congressional citation for his photo of the Chinese spy balloon that passed over Montana in February.

Working together with Billings videographer Chase Doak, the pair documented the balloon with a photo and video that were quickly shared by news outlets around the world.

President Joe Biden had hoped the spy balloon would go unnoticed as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepared for a diplomatic mission to China. Chinese military officials claimed the balloon was a weather research balloon that had simply blown off course.

Pentagon officials held a press conference confirming the illegal foreign balloon’s surveillance and navigational capabilities. And, Montana officials were especially alarmed at the balloon’s passage over the state’s nuclear missile silos.

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Political heat generated by Mayer’s photograph, and its revelation of China’s spying efforts, forced the hasty cancellation of Blinken’s China visit.

“Larry pointed his lens skyward…and captured one of the first public images of a strange object floating in American skies,” states the Congressional citation signed by Republican Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale.

“Larry’s images of the Chinese spy balloon represent the best qualities of American

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