Off Jamestown, Rhode Island – June 6, 1944
At 9:34 a.m. on June 6, 1944, a U.S. Navy Pv-1 Ventura (Bu. No. 29917) took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station with seven men aboard bound for Nantucket, Massachusetts. Six minutes into the flight the plane went down in the water just 200 yards off the shore of Jamestown (a.k.a. Conanicut) Island in an area known locally as “The Dumplings”. (The area is so-called due to the rock formations that protrude from the water.) The fuselage reportedly hit the water between “Big Dumpling” and what was then the Jamestown Ferry Company dock, which is today part of a marina.
There are conflicting accounts of the accident. It was initially reported that the plane suffered some type of explosion while airborne, and possibly a second on impact with the water, and it was further reported that the aircraft was in several pieces on the bottom of the bay. However, the official findings listed in the Navy Investigation Brief, (#44-14865), indicated pilot error and poor weather conditions as the cause for the accident, with no mention of an explosion.
In the report it was stated in part:, “Opinion from Adm. Report: That the plane crossed over Conanicut Island on a southerly heading and upon entering the vicinity of poor visibility in the Newport Area , either developed engine trouble, causing the pilot to turn and let down to a lower altitude to establish absolute visual contact with the water or ground in case of a forced landing. Upon suddenly finding the island so close ahead he attempted to pull up and turn away in a sharp left turn with an immediate application of full power. The violence of this maneuver or the possible failure of the port engine could have been sufficient to invert the airplane from which recovery at this low altitude was impossible. ”
All aboard the aircraft were killed in the crash. They were identified as:
Pilot: Lieutenant Jack Collins Sullivan, 25, of Dearborn, Michigan. He was survived by his wife Marcia.
Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Thomas Joseph Kiernan, Jr., 22, of Albany, New York. He was survived by his wife Virginia.
Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Regis Aloysius McKean, 23, of Queens, New York. He was survived by his wife Patricia. Petty Officer McKean was married on March 2, 1944, just three months before the accident. To see a photo of the couple on their wedding day, go to www.findagrave.com and look under memorial #82683365.
Aviation Ordinance Man 2nd Class Frank Peter Van Oosten, 23, of Malden, Massachusetts. (The only New Englander aboard) He was survived by his wife Hazel.
Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Albert Lee Kresie, Jr., 26, of Kansas.
Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Francis Gabriel Hricko, 27, of Hastings, Pennsylvania. He was survived by his wife Jane, whom he’d married just two weeks earlier.
Doctor John McMorris (Ph. D), 39, of California. He was survived by his wife Helen. Dr. McMorris was a civilian working on an undisclosed project for the military. Dr. McMorris was a pioneer in developing ways to recover formerly unrecoverable fingerprints at police crime scenes. His research, discoveries, and techniques developed in the 1930s are commonly used by police today.
This incident remains the worst aviation accident to occur in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island.
U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report brief, #44-14865
Newport Daily News, “Navy Plane Blows Up Off Jamestown”, June 6, 1944
Woonsocket Call, “Plane Explodes, Seven Killed”, June 6, 1944, page 1
(Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Seven Are Lost When Navy Plane Explodes In Air”, June 6, 1944, page 20
Providence Journal, “7 Thought Dead As Plane Crashes”, June 7, 1944, Page 20, Col. 1
Malden News, (Mass.) “Frank P. Van Oosten Starts Navy Life”, September 10, 1942, Page 5, Col. 6
Malden News, (Mass.) F. P. Van Oosten Killed In Plane Crash”, June 7, 1944, Page 1
Malden Press, (Mass.) “Malden Sailor Killed In Plane crash”, June 9, 1944, Page 5.
The California Identification Digest, March/April 2006 edition, Volume 6, Issue 2 , “The Iodine/Silver-Transfer Method For Recording Latent Fingerprints”, by Darrell Klasey
The California Identification Digest, May/June 2006 edition, Volume 6, Issue 3, “Dr. John McMorris, Fume Pipe Inventor, Dies In Airplane Fall”, By Darrell Klasey
Obituary for Frances G. Hricko, unknown newspaper.
Town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, death records.