Beverly, MA. – October 29, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – October 29, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On October 29, 1944, a F6F-5, Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58128), was taking off from the Beverly Navy Auxiliary Air Field for a training flight.  As the aircraft began to climb the engine began sputtering and then quit.  The plane came down and was damaged beyond all repair, and the pilot received non-life-threatening injuries.  The pilot reported that when the engine failed all instruments were reading normal.  The cause of the crash is unknown.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 29, 1944.

South Weymouth NAS – August 13, 1943

South Weymouth Naval Air Station – August 13, 1943   

     On the morning of August 13, 1943, the navy airship K-69, (Bu. No. 30191), was being removed from its hangar at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station when a gust of wind pushed the tail section against the side of the hanger causing a rip in the fabric.  The ship began rapidly deflating as it began to then swing away from the building.  The pilot quickly shut off all switches and abandoned the airship, along with nine other crewmen aboard.  After all hands had left the ship, the ground-handling officer ordered the forward rip paned to be pulled so the rest of the envelope would deflate.  There were 57 men in the ground handling party.   

     The K-69 was repaired and put back in service.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 13, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – December 22, 1943


U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1943, a flight of seven airplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, (CV-4), were taking part in a  gunnery practice flight over the ocean in the vicinity of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  As one aircraft served as a “target tug”, towing a canvas target behind, the other six aircraft would take turns making firing runs at the target.  All six of those planes were FM-2 Wildcats assigned to VF-4. 

     The tow plane leveled off at 6,000 feet and the Wildcats began their firing runs from 7,500 feet.  After all planes had made approximately eight runs, one Wildcat, (Bu. No. 46760), piloted by Lt. (Jg.) Lloyd Henry Launder, Jr., (22), was seen making another run when the left wing suddenly separated from the fuselage, and the aircraft went into a uncontrolled spin and crashed into the sea and disappeared.   A rescue boat and two OS2U water aircraft were dispatched to the scene, but only a small patch of discolored water from a dye marker was found. 


     U.S. Navy accident report #44-40488 (or possibly 44-40438)



Off Ipswich, MA. – May 9, 1944

Off Ipswich, Massachusetts – May 9, 1944 


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 9, 1944, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47692), from the Squantum Naval Air Station, was taking part in a glide-bombing training flight with other aircraft off the coast of Ipswich, Massachusetts.  The weather was clear with unlimited visibility.  During the exercise, the engine suddenly back-fired, and then began to emit dense black smoke followed by flames before all power was lost.  The pilot attempted to glide towards the mainland, but the aircraft went down in the water about 500 yards from shore.  The pilot and the radio operator were able to escape the aircraft before it sank in 35 feet of water, but the gunner, AMM3c F. Howe, was unable to do so and drowned. 

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-4


     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 9, 1944.




Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – September 16, 1944


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 16, 1944, a Navy TBF-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 47759), was taking part in a glide-bombing training exercise seven miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  Several other aircraft were also participating.  Each aircraft would make a run at the target from 5,000 feet at an angle of 45 degrees, and pull out of the dive at 1,200 to 1,500 feet, with a 2,000 yard interval maintained between planes.  

     The pilot of Bu. No. 47759 made four successful runs at the target.  On the fifth run, the aircraft was observed to make a 50 degree dive at the target from which it did not recover.  The aircraft plunged into the water just short of the dye marker and disappeared immediately.  No wreckage was recovered thereby leaving the cause of the accident unknown.   

     All aboard Bu. No. 47759 were killed.  

     The pilot: Ensign Townsend Doyle

     Radioman: ARM3c Theodore H. Jaffe

     Gunner: AOM3c Anthony N. Kulsa   

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-43.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 16, 1944


Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – December 22, 1943

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – December 22, 1943


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06209), was attempting to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when the aircraft lost power and went into a wooded area near the end of Runway 24 and flipped on its back.  The pilot and one crew member received non-life-threatening injuries, but the aircraft was a total loss. 

     The cause of the accident was determined to be due to a missing bolt to the throttle control rod of the carburetor.     


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10433

Nashawena Island, MA. – August 27, 1943

Nashawena Island, Massachusetts – August 27, 1943


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of August 27, 1943, a flight of four TBF-1 Avengers was rendezvousing over Nashawena Island off Cape Cod, as part of a torpedo tactics training flight.  As the planes were getting into formation, two of them were involved in a mid-air collision. 

     One of the aircraft involved was Bu. No. 24125.  The pilot and one of the crewmen was able to parachute safely, but the third crewman, AMM3C Roger W. Krager, (26) of Binghamton, N.Y., went down with the aircraft and was killed.

     To see a photograph of AMM3c Krager, go to, see memorial #71934510.

     The other aircraft involved in this accident was Bu. No. 24130.  The pilot was able to parachute safely, but the two crewmen, S2c Alexander E. Sabalianskas, and ARM3c Bernard G. Manning, (20), of New York City, were killed when the aircraft crashed.  

     Nashawena Island is part of the town of Gosnold, Mass.


     U. S. navy crash report #44-8210

Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944

Cape Cod Bay – May 18, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 1:07 a.m. in the early morning hours of May 18, 1944, a flight of two U. S. Navy F6F Hellcats took off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island for a night-training flight.  The mission was to make practice bombing runs on a designated target anchored in Cape Cod Bay.  According to the navy report of this incident, the training-flight was termed a “Masthead Bombing Flight”. 

     The weather was clear with visibility at six-plus miles, with a cloud cover at 8,500 feet. 

     One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 42520), was piloted by Lt. (jg.) James Francis Corroon, Jr., and the other, (Bu. No. 42221), was piloted by an Ensign De Masters.  Both aircraft were assigned to VF-74.      

     On the previous day, Lt. (jg.) Corroon had flown over the target during a daylight training flight, and was therefore familiar with its location.

     At 2:50 a.m., after both aircraft had finished making their mock attack runs on the target, Ensign De Masters radioed to Lt. (jg.) Corroon that he was returning to base.  Corroon answered, “This is thirty-three, Roger, out.”  This was the last radio transmission from  Lt. (jg.) Corroon.  Despite a careful search of the entire area, no trace of the missing pilot or his aircraft was ever found.

     Investigators were unable to come to an exact conclusion as to the cause of the disappearance. 


     U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report      

Wilbraham, MA. – December 19, 1942

Wilbraham, Massachusetts – December 19, 1942


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 19, 1942, Lieutenant Russel D. Lynn, 24, was piloting a P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-5960), with a squadron of other P-47s over the area of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, when his aircraft suddenly developed engine trouble.  After directing the aircraft away from populated areas, he bailed out  at 2,500 feet.   The P-47 crashed and exploded just in from Stony Hill Road, about a quarter mile from the intersection of Old Boston Road, not far from the Ludlow town line. Lieutenant Lynn landed safely on Burbank Road and made his way to the scene of the crash where he was met by members of the North Wilbraham Fire Department and the state police.     

     Lt. Lynn was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.


     Springfield Daily News, “Westover Pilot Bails Out As Ship Crashes In No. Wilbraham”, December 19, 1942

Westover Field – October 25, 1945

Westover Field – October 25, 1945


     On October 25, 1945, a four-engine C-54 aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-72321), with a crew of five men aboard, was practicing beam approaches to Westover Airfield when the aircraft developed an unspecified mechanical problem.  The order to bail out was given, and the now unmanned aircraft crashed in a remote area of the airfield and exploded. 

     One member of the crew, Corporal George K. Holloway, 24, reportedly struck a portion of the aircraft when he bailed out and was rendered unconscious, and thereby incapable of pulling the rip cord of his parachute.  He’s buried in Odd fellows Cemetery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. 

     Two other crew members, Sergeant Charles E. Walker of Long Beach, California, was seriously injured when he made a hard landing on a concrete strip, and Sergeant Bernard J. Lance of Flushing, New York, suffered minor injuries when he landed. 

     The pilot and co-pilot were not injured.


     Unknown newspaper, “Flier Killed At Westover”, October 26, 1945   


The pilot and co-pilot landed safely.     

Westover Field – January 14, 1943

Westover Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – January 14, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On January 14, 1943, two P-47B fighter aircraft were over Westover Filed when they were involved in a mid-air collision.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6005), piloted by 1st Lieutenant Joseph H. Freeman, Jr., of Weatherford, Texas, crashed and burned, killing Lt. Freeman.  The other aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6002), suffered little damage and landed safely. 

     Both aircraft were part of the 340th Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, then stationed at Westover.   

     Lt. Freeman is buried in City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas.  To see a photo of his grave go to  One will note that he was born on January 14, 1920, and died on his 23rd birthday.  

     The aircraft involved in this accident which landed safely, (41-6002), crashed and burned in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, on March 24, 1943.  The pilot did not survive.  The details of that accident are posted elsewhere on this website.


     Unknown Newspaper, “Plane Collision Kills One Pilot At Westover”, January 15, 1943


Sunderland, MA. – August 7, 1941

Sunderland, Massachusetts – August 7, 1941


Stearman PT-17
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of August 7, 1941, a PT-17 Stearman biplane took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard, the pilot: Lieutenant Everett J. O’Connor; and a mechanic, Staff Sergeant Charles G. Nowark. 

     While over the Connecticut River Valley the aircraft suddenly lost all power and the pilot was forced to find a place to make an emergency landing.  He aimed for the Connecticut River, and made a perfect water landing near a point known as Whittemore’s Rock.  After the plane glided to a stop the weight of the engine caused the nose to sink in several feet of water, leaving the tail of the aircraft pointing upwards.  Neither man was injured.     

     Lieutenant O’Connor was praised for his skill in landing the airplane under such conditions.

     Both men were part of the 7th Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group.  The PT-17 was one of five stationed at Westover at the time.  Other than water damage to the engine, the plane was salvageable.   

      This was reported to be the “…first crash of an army plane stationed at Westover Field.” 


     Springfield Republican, “Army Plane Makes Forced Landing After Motor Fails”, August 18, 1941. (With photo of aircraft in river.)

Ludlow, MA. – July 17, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – July 17, 1944


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 17, 1944, a flight of three B-24 Liberator heavy bombers left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  With the bombers was a P-47 Thunderbolt that was to participate in the exercise by making mock attack runs on the bombers as they flew in a three-ship triangle formation.

     As the formation was passing over central Massachusetts, the P-47 crashed into the lead B-24.  The P-47 immediately broke apart and caught fire, but the pilot, a major, was able to bail out safely.  At the same time, pieces of both aircraft struck a second B-24 in the formation causing serious damage to that aircraft. 

     Immediately after the impact between the P-47 and the first B-24, two crewmen of the B-24 bailed out of the aircraft.  Meanwhile, the nose turret gunner of the second B-24 was pinned in place due to the impact of debris from the first two aircraft and was forced to remain there.      

P-47N Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Debris from the stricken aircraft rained down on the town of Ludlow, Massachusetts.  The P-47 crashed and burned on a farm on Rood Street, narrowly missing the barn.  Wing portions of one of the B-24s landed in the back yard of a home on Center Street, and a propeller landed in the yard of a home on Munsing Street.  Pieces of an engine and other small parts fell elsewhere.  There were no reported injuries to anyone on the ground.

     The major landed safely and made his way back to the air field on his own.  One crewman from the B-24 came down in a tree and was rescued by some telephone workers.  The other was found up by a state police officer. Neither was seriously injured.

     The damaged B-24s managed to limp back to Westover on three engines and land safely.  The trapped turret gunner was freed by the pilot and flight engineer immediately afterwards. 

     The third B-24 was undamaged in the accident, and was put in a holding pattern until the other two Liberators could land. 


     Springfield Daily Republican, Fliers Are Safe In Mid-Air Crash Of Three Planes”, July 18, 1944 

Northampton, MA. – June 15, 1942

Northampton, Massachusetts – June 15, 1942


C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 15, 1942, a C-47, (Ser. No. 41-18377), with three crewmen aboard from Westover Field, was flying low along the Connecticut River on a navigation training flight when it struck a power cable that was strung across the river from MT. Tom to a power substation belonging to the Turner’s Falls Power Company.   The impact snapped the power cable, which was reported to be carrying 13,000 volts of electricity, and also caused damage to the aircraft.  The pilot managed to maintain control and brought the plane in for a crash landing at an open field about two miles away.  None of the crew was injured.


     Unknown Newspaper, “High Voltage Wire Knocks Westover Bomber Out Of Air”, June 15, 1942.     


Westover Field – February 21, 1942

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts 

     At about 8:30 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 1942, 2nd Lieutenant Gordon C. McAthur, 24, of Paris, Texas, was piloting what was described as a “pursuit-type” aircraft that crashed while taking off on runway 33. 

     As the aircraft was leaving the ground the pilot raised the landing gear.  A strong crosswind was blowing at the time, and when the aircraft was at an altitude of about 20 feet it suddenly dropped back to the ground in a flat attitude.  Lt. McArthur was transported in critical condition to the airfield hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later in the day.

     Lt. McArthur is buried in Evergreen cemetery in Paris, Texas.  To see a photo of him, go to, memorial #55039852 


     Springfield Republican, “Dies After Crash Of Warplane At Westover”, February 22, 1942, page 1





Westover Field – January 29, 1942

Westover Army Air Field – January 29, 1942

     At about 3:00 p.m. on  January 29, 1942, Lieutenant Thomas Charles Bittner, 21, of Trenton, New Jersey, was attempting to take off from Westover Army Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, when his aircraft crashed just after becoming airborne and he was killed.  The specific type of aircraft wasn’t mentioned in the press, and was described only as a “pursuit plane”. 

     Lieutenant Bittner was an experienced pilot, and officials speculated that the cause of the accident might have been due to heavy cross winds or swirling dust fouling the engine, or both.  

     Lieutenant Bitner had a twin brother Robert, who was also serving in the Air Corps.  Both men obtained their pilot’s licenses at the age of 16. 

     It was also reported that Lt. Bittner was the first military fatality at Westover Field.  He’s buried in Our Lady Of Lourdes Cemetery in Trenton, N.J. 


     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed When fast Pursuit Plane Falls, Burns On Take-Off”, January 30, 1942     

     Springfield Union, “Lieutenant One Of “Flying Twins”, January 30, 1942, Memorial #102737238

Hatfield, MA. – August 27, 1943

Hatfield, Massachusetts – August 27, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 27, 1943, a pair of P-47 Thunderbolts was passing over the Hatfield area when one aircraft, a P-47B, (Ser. No. 5930), developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to bail out.  The aircraft plunged into a wooded are in North Hatfield near the Whately town line and exploded.  Some nearby field workers had to scatter as the flames set off ammunition in the aircraft. The pilot landed safely.

     Both aircraft were part of the 320th Fighter Squadron, 326th Fighter group, based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

     Source: Unknown Newspaper, “Westover pilot Jumps Out Over North Hatfield”, August 28, 1943.     

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of June 11, 1943, 2nd Lt. Bruce Cowan, 19, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, in a P-47-B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-5956), for a routine training flight.   

     At about 10:45 a.m., his aircraft was observed high over the field by a security guard for the Chicopee Water Supply.   The guard later related how the aircraft appeared to “side-slip” and rapidly loose altitude, before it crashed in a wooded area about 200 feet off Burrett Road, about a quarter-of-a-mile from Westover Field.  Lt. Cowan was killed instantly.

     Lt. Cowan died four months shy of his 20th birthday.  He was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron of the 326th Fighter Group.  He’s buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama.


     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Pilot Killed In Crash”, June 12, 1943

     Unknown Newspaper, “Pilot Killed As Westover Plane falls In Chicopee”, June 12, 1943  

     Springfield Union & Republican, “Pilot Crash Victim Came from Alabama”, June 13, 1943




Ludlow, MA. – May 4, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – May 4, 1944


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with three crewmen aboard took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, the aircraft experienced complete engine failure in all four engines.  According to two civilian witnesses living on Burnett Road in the neighboring town of Ludlow, all four engines were silent as the aircraft passed over their home, and someone aboard fired a red distress flair from the aircraft.   Moments later the B-24 crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area, about 3/4 of a mile from Westover Field. The plane came down on land owned by the Chicopee Water Department in Ludlow just before the Chicopee town line.    

     All three crewmen perished in the accident. They were identified by the press as:

     Pilot: Captain Harold H. Melken, 26, of Watertown, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lieutenant William F. Davis, 21, of Baxter, West Virginia.

     Tec-Sgt. Harry Schultz, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Three Westover Men Die In Ludlow Plane Crash”, May 5, 1944

Granby, MA. – September 17, 1944

Granby, Massachusetts – September 17, 1944

     In the early morning hours of September 17, 1944, what was described as a “heavy bomber”, possibly a B-24 Liberator, was on a night training flight when it crashed into a thickly wooded area in Granby, Massachusetts, about two miles north of Westover Air Field.  The aircraft broke apart on impact and wreckage was reportedly scattered for hundreds of feet.  The area where the crash occurred was on a farm off East Street.  

     All seven crewmen aboard the aircraft perished in the accident.

     Pilot: 2nd Lt. Gene Revere Asay, 28, of Lodi, Colorado.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John W. Woodrow, 22, of Huntington, Indiana.

    Flight Engineer: Sgt. Neal W. Johnson, 22, of Ashland, Kansas.

     Asst. Flt. Engineer: Pfc. Jack W. Hariston, 18, of Atlanta, Georgia.

     Radio Operator: Cpl. John A. Perry, 21, of Warwick, R.I.

     Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Clifford K. Nordby, 18, of Walhalla, North Dakota.

     Air Gunner: Sgt. William Donald Haynes, 26, of Parsons, Kansas.

     The men were assigned to the 112th AAF Base Unit at Westover Field. 


     Springfield Union, “Westover Bomber Crashes In Granby, Killing Seven”, September 18, 1944

     Berkshire Evening Eagle, “Westover Field Bomber Crash Kills Seven”, September 18, 1944



Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943

Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     In the early morning hours of Sunday, December 13, 1943, a B-24 Liberator bomber took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight in preparation for overseas duty.  It was never seen again, and was presumed to have gone down in the waters off the New England coast.

     There were eight men aboard the missing aircraft, two officers and six enlisted men.  They were identified as:

     2nd Lt. William P. Masters of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

     2nd Lt. Robert Rollin Hansen, age 25, of Corcoran, California.

     Sgt. Dean G. McAffery, age 19, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

     Sgt. Stanley E. Zagae, of Detroit, Michigan.

     Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

     Sgt. Cicel H. Conklin, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman, of Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

     Sgt. Anthony L. Greco, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

     It is believed that the aircraft was assigned to the 759th Bombardment Squadron, which was stationed at Westover at the time before leaving for overseas duty in January of 1944. 


     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Bomber Missing; Air, Land Search Under Way”, December 13, 1943

     The Fresno Bee Republican, (Fresno, CA.), “Corcoran Flier’s Plane Is Missing”, December 14, 1943, page 15.      


East Longmeadow, MA. – December 17, 1942

East Longmeadow, Massachusetts – December 17, 1942


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 11;30 a.m. on December 17, 1942, Lieutenant Raymond Murby, 23, of New York City, was piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt over central Massachusetts when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The aircraft was observed by a ground witness to go into a steep dive, with Lt. Murby fighting to regain control.  When he was almost to the ground, Murby was able to straighten the aircraft out on an even keel, and it was seen to sail overtop of a row of homes and a barn, barely missing the roof tops.  The aircraft then dropped to about 20-25 feet over the snow covered ground before it crashed into a stand of white pines at the edge of a field, shearing off both wings.  When the fuselage came to rest there was no fire, and Lt. Murby was able to extricate himself despite the fact he was seriously injured.  He attempted to walk toward some homes he could see through the trees, but discovered he couldn’t use his legs.  There he lay until rescuers found him about a half hour later.        

     Source: Unknown Newspaper, “Army Plane Crashes Near City – East Long Meadow Line; Pilot Rushed To Hospital”, December 17, 1942

Harwich, MA. – November 24, 1944

Harwich, Massachusetts – November 24, 1944

     Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on the morning of November 24, 1944, Ensign R. N. Kelly of Philadelphia, Penn., was piloting  a single engine aircraft 20,000 feet over Cape Cod when the engine suddenly caught fire.  Knowing he was over a populated area, he stayed with the aircraft until he was able to direct it towards a wooded area, and then bailed out at 3,000 feet.  The plane crashed in the woods near Bassett’s Pond and exploded.  Nobody on the ground was injured. Ensign Kelly sprained his ankle upon landing, but suffered no serious injury.

     The type of aircraft was not stated.

     Ensign Kelly had taken off from Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Plane falls At North Harwich”, November 24, 1944, page 1 

Hyannis, MA. – May 11, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – May 11, 1944 

     On the afternoon of May 11, 1944, navy Lieutenant George E. Orenge was piloting what the press described as a “navy torpedo bomber”, (Type unknown), over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when the aircraft suddenly caught fire while in flight.  Being over a populated area, Lieutenant Orenge opted to stay with the plane, but was unable to direct it towards an open area, or to make it to Hyannis Airport.  The plane crashed on Barnstable Road about 200 yards from Main Street in the town of Hyannis.  In the process it struck an elm tree and broke in two, pitching Lieutenant Orenge, still strapped to his seat, from the cockpit.  As the aircraft came to rest and was consumed by flames, Lieutenant Orenge landed on the sidewalk in front of 62 Barnstable Road.   

     The homeowner of 62 Barnstable Road, Vernon Coleman, happened to be outside and witnessed the crash.  He later told a reporter from the Cape Cod Standard Times, “I looked up and saw the plane sort of wavering with the motor on fire.” 

     Lieutenant Orenge was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, but remarkably, he’d only suffered some minor bumps, scrapes, and bruises. 

     It was also reported that he flew another aircraft later in the day. 

     This crash wasn’t the only one of Lieutenant Orenge’s  naval career.  On November 5, 1943, he was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 65895), when a tire blew out on landing at Quonset Point NAS in Rhode Island.  The aircraft went off the runway and struck a truck.  The aircraft needed extensive repairs, but Lieutenant Orenge suffered only minor injuries.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Pilot Who Survives Hyannis crash, Goes Aloft Again”, May 12, 1944                 

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944  

Woods Hole, Falmouth, Massachusetts  

U.S. Army - Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army – Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:13 a.m. on March 3, 1944, it was reported that an aircraft had crashed into the water at the entrance to Woods Hole Harbor, about halfway between Nonamessett Island and Juniper Point.  The plane had been seen circling low in the sky when it suddenly “pancaked” into the water.

      Observers on shore stated it appeared to be a navy plane with two men inside.  However, the first boats on the scene recovered an army fliers hat and some paperwork from Otis Field in Falmouth. 

     It was later announced by the Navy public relations office in Newport, R.I.  that the aircraft did not belong to the navy, and the Camp Edwards office on Cape Cod stated none of their coastal patrol aircraft were unaccounted for. Boston naval officials also reported that none of their aircraft were missing.  

     The plane was determined to be a U.S. Army RA-24B Banshee, (42-54555) piloted by 2nd Lt. Joseph H. Gardner, 29, of Sierra Blanc, Texas.   Gardner had been on a training flight from Otis Filed to practice stalls and spins. 

     Confusion over the plane’s branch of service was cleared up when it was explained that the RA-24B was the army’s version of the U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless dive bomber.       


Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane crashes At Woods Hole” March 3, 1944  

Lawrence Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist.    

Pocasset, MA – August 13, 1945

Pocasset, Massachusetts – August 13, 1945 

     On August 13, 1945, Ensign William Orlando Young Jr., 22, was piloting a scout plane from Otis Air Field in Falmouth as part of his training for assignment to the navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Midway.  When overdue for his return to base, he was reported missing, and a search utilizing aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I. began.  His body and his wrecked plane were found the following day in Pocasset, Mass. 

     Ensign Young’s body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Gathersburg, Maryland for burial.  He was survived by his wife Hazel.  


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot From Otis Killed In Crash” August 17, 1945   

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-77


Falmouth, MA – August 17, 1945

Falmouth, Massachusetts – August 17, 1945 

     On August 17, 1945, Ensign Daniel Ware Goldman, 24, took off from Otis Field in Falmouth in a navy fighter aircraft.  He had no sooner had he taken off when he radioed that he needed to make an emergency landing.  His altitude at the time was about 200 feet, and when he turned to approach the runway his aircraft went into a dive and crashed into a wooded area about a mile from the field.  Ensign Goldman had no chance to bail out and was killed in the wreck.

    Ensign Goldman had been at Otis since May of 1945 training for carrier duty on the new aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Midway. His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Arlington National cemetery for burial.

     Update: May 17, 2018

     According to a Cape Cod Standard Times article, this accident occurred in the neighboring town of Mashpee.   


Falmouth Enterprise, ”Otis Field Flyer Dies In Crash”, August 24,1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-78

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Pilot Dies In Mashpee Crackup”, August 18, 1945, page 1.

Gosnold, MA – November 18, 1944

Gosnold, Massachusetts – November 18, 1944 

     On November 18, 1944, two navy planes from Otis Air Field were on an operational flight when they collided in mid-air over Nashawena Island.  The Island is part of a chain known as the Elizabeth Islands, which make up the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts.

     One plane, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Shane Traverse, 27, of Absecon, N.J., crashed on the island, while the other made it safely back to Otis with minor wing damage. Traverse’s body was recovered by the Coast Guard with his parachute unopened. 

     He was survived by his wife, Margurite. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Field Accidents”, November 24, 1944. awena

Camp Edwards, MA – September 2, 1943

Camp Edwards, Massachusetts – September 2, 1943 

     On September 2, 1943, a Curtis A-25A, (42-79670) (Army version of the Navy Helldiver) was taking part in a mock strafing exercise at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod when the aircraft crashed killing both men on board.

     The pilot was identified as Lt. Robert Ruthlein, 23, of Jersey City, New Jersey.  Also aboard was Major Francis M. Reigel, 35, of Dayton, Ohio.  Major Reigel was attached to the AAATC gunnery branch, and was observing the reaction of ground troops from the air.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Camp Edwards” (notes), September 10, 1943  

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944 

     On December 10, 1944, a group of eleven navy fighter planes left Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for an operational training flight over the Atlantic, but only nine returned.  By 8:00 p.m. a search was begun for the two missing planes, and aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I., as well as crash boats from Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, searched the area north of Nantucket where there had been unconfirmed reports of flares being sighted. 

     Despite the efforts, no trace of the missing aircraft or the pilots was ever found.

     The missing men are: Ensign John D. Cassidy, 21, of Macon, Georgia, and Lieutenant John I. Drew, 27, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 


Falmouth Enterprise, ”Planes Lost On Training Flight”, December 15, 1944.   




The Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944


May 18, 1944

 By Jim Ignasher


 B-24 Liberator

B-24 Liberator

Tucked away on a two-acre wooded lot in the middle of a quiet upscale neighborhood in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, is a granite monument honoring five servicemen who died in the service of their country when their B-24 Liberator (42-7347) crashed on that spot during World War II. The incident occurred on May 18, 1944, as a formation of three B-24 bombers droned through the sky over the Blackstone Valley.

     The planes were on their way back to Westover Air Field after a day of formation flight training, the purpose of which was to give one of the bomber crews experience in formation flying so they would have enough hours to qualify for overseas duty.  

      24-year-old navigator, Lieutenant Joseph H. Talbot, was sitting in the plexiglass nose of bomber number 42-7347, watching the landscape below take on more definition as the formation descended from 20,000 to 10,000 feet so the crews could come off oxygen.  Then, without warning, the plane suffered a hard jolt accompanied by the sound of crunching metal as it was struck by another B-24 in the formation.  Almost immediately the plane began shaking and shuddering and Talbot heard the pilot’s frantic voice come over his head phones, “Bail out! Bail out!”     

     Talbot was wearing his parachute harness, but not the chute, and the buffeting of the plane made attaching the two difficult.  As the seconds ticked by the plane dropped lower.  Other members of the crew were possibly in the same predicament, for Talbot was one of the first out of the plane. 

      He no doubt breathed a huge sigh of relief as his chute billowed open. He would later recall how quiet it was as he hung in the air over Uxbridge.  The other B-24s had disappeared, and his own was a flaming wreck.  He didn’t know it then, but another crewman, 18-year-old, Corporal Robert Kelly, was the only other member of the crew to get out safely. Three others jumped, but the aircraft was too low to the ground when they did, and their chutes didn’t have enough time to deploy.  The co-pilot had waited the longest, perhaps to make sure the others had jumped first. His remains were found in the bomb bay.  To his credit, the pilot, 2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt, never left the controls, trying to save his men while directing the plane away from the populated downtown Uxbridge area.    

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Talbot came down in a wooded area where he was found by an army sergeant home on leave.  He had lacerated his hands while escaping from the plane, and was taken to Whitinsville Hospital.  There he and Corporal Kelly were admitted and prevented from returning to the crash site.

     The other aircraft involved in the collision, (41-28508), suffered damage, but was able to remain airborne and made it back to Westover.

     Woonsocket Call reporter Russell Krapp was at the downtown Uxbridge field office when he heard the formation passing overhead and happened to look out the window just as the accident happened.  The doomed bomber plummeted to earth in the High Street area where it exploded in a massive fireball sending a plume of smoke hundreds of feet into the air.  Krapp, along with dozens of others, raced to the scene.  

     The fire burned over forty acres before it was brought under control by firemen from Uxbridge, East Douglas, and two state forestry trucks. 

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash - May 18, 1944.

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944.

The site was cleared of wreckage, and little by little Mother Nature began to reclaim the land.  It remained wooded for many years afterwards, but by the 1980s the land ready for a housing development.  Fortunately, there were those who remembered the crash and sought to have at least a portion of the area preserved.  The result is a two-acre wooded lot across from 84 Chamberland Road, marked by a sign that directs visitors along a well maintained path leading to a memorial honoring those who died.  Next to the monument is a piece of melted aluminum that had once been part of the aircraft.  

The inscription on the monument reads: This spot is sacred to the memory of

2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt

2nd Lt. John T. Goodwin

S/Sgt Thomas L. Cater

Sgt. Merle V. Massar,

Sgt. Anthony J. Pitzulo

 They died when their US Army Airplane Crashed here May 18, 1944.  They Gave Their Lives Four Country And Humanity. 

    The monument was dedicated October 11, 1944.

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site - August, 2012

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site – August, 2012

 Lt. Arnold Moholt was born December 15, 1920 in Glendive, Montanna, where he lived until he graduated high school.  He went on to attended business college in Spokane, Washington, before enlisting in the Army ordinance division in March of 1941.  In 1942 he transferred to the Army Air Force, and was commissioned an officer in January of 1944 at Maxwell Field, Alabama. He had recently written to his surviving relatives in Missoula, Montanna, that he expected to be sent overseas in the near future.  He is buried in Missoula Cemetery.       

     Sergeant Merle Massar was 21-years-old, born June 7, 1922, and was just shy of his next birthday when the accident occurred.  He was born in Mount Vernon, Washington, where his father was a prominent businessman.  He was an accomplished violin musician, and often participated in musical and theatrical productions at Mount Vernon High School.  He was also a member of the school’s Thespian Society, and Ski Club. 

     After graduating in 1940, he enrolled in college, studying at the University of Washington where he excelled at writing.  One of the university professors, Dr. George Savage, stated Massar’s writing ability “showed great promise”. 

     “With Merle it is more than a personal grief,” said Dr. Savage, “It is the knowledge that a great writer is lost, for Merle was one of the few students I’ve had who was passionate about life – who felt deeply and surely because he loved and sorrowed for his fellow man.” 

     Dr. Savage last spoke with Merle when he was home on furlough.  He recalled Merle saying to him, “If I want to live for my generation, I have to be ready to die with it, too.” 

     Mrs. Mary McDonnell of Chicopee, Massachusetts, wrote to Merle’s mother after the accident.  Part of the letter said, “Just last Monday, he came to the door holding a lilac in his hand. ‘This is for Mother’s Day’ he said, but I know he was just plain lonesome for his own mother.”        

      In April of 1943 Merle entered military training for radio-aerial gunnery school, and at the time of the accident had been serving as a top-turret gunner. 

     He was survived by his mother and brother, Clifford.       

     Sgt. Anthony Pitzulo was two days shy of his 25th birthday when he died. He was born and raised in Lowellville, Ohio, the son of the late Joseph and Mary (Aurclio) Pitzulo.  He entered the army in 1942.  He was survived by a sister, four brothers, two half brothers, and a half sister. 

     Lieutenant Talbot survived the war and later married and raised four children. He later became a grandfather nine times over.  He returned to Uxbridge sometime in the1950s, and again in 1984 at the request of local officials to attend a memorial ceremony.  Forty years after his ordeal, he recalled the details of the crash to reporters.  He passed away in 1995.    


Uxbridge Times, “Three Chute To Safety When Bomber Crashes In Woods Off High Street.”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1

Uxbridge Times, “Eyewitness Story Of Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg.1

Uxbridge Times, “Death Toll Reaches 5 In Plane Crash”, May 22, 1944, Pg. 8

Woonsocket Call, “3 Forterss Crew Members Bail Out; Plane Explosion Starts Forest Fires” May 18, 1944.

Woonsocket Call, “Call Reporter Sees Crash, Covers Story And Fights Fire”, May 18, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “5 Airmen Dead In Plane Crash Are Identified”, May 19, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Victims Remembered –Survivor Returns For Uxbridge Rites 40 Years Later.” May 21, 1984

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Merile Massar Loses Life In Bomber Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1.

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Rites Are Set Thursday For Heroic Flyer”, May 23, 1944, Pg. 1

The Daily Missoulian, “A Moholt Is Killed In Plane Crash”, May 20, 1944

The Daily Missoulian, “Rites Today For Army Lieutenant”, May 23, 1944

Youngstown Vindicator, “Air Crash Fatal To Sgt. Pitzulo”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 25

Youngstown Vindicator, “Plan Military Funeral For Sergeant Pitzulo”, May 21, 1944, Pg. A10  Joseph H. Talbot

Franklin, Mass – April 4, 1944

Franklin, Massachusetts – April 4, 1944


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 4, 1944, two U.S. Army P-47 fighter planes were conducting “dog fighting” practice over Franklin, Massachusetts, when one aircraft crashed into a wooded area off Maple Street in Franklin.  The plane exploded on impact, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. William J. Bradt, of Buffalo, N.Y.  The explosion reportedly left a crater 80 ft. wide and 20 ft. deep in a “boggy” area.   Wreckage was scattered for some distance.

     Witnesses said the plane went into a sharp dive trailing smoke before bursting into flames, and it was speculated that the pilot aimed for the wooded area to avoid nearby buildings. 

     News accounts stated “thousands” came to the scene and engaged in souvenir hunting, prompting police to issue warnings about unexploded .50 caliber bullets.  One news reporter found $330 dollars which had been blown from the pilot’s clothing, which he turned over to police.    

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Bradt was a P-47D. serial number 42-22449


Woonsocket Call, “Plane Explodes Over Franklin” , April 4, 1944, pg. 1 

Woonsocket Call, “Shells From Plane Wreck Prompt Franklin Warning”, April 5, 1944, pg. 4 



Westfield, MA. – November 30, 1942

Westfield, Massachusetts – November 30, 1942 


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 30, 1942, 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Austin of Dorchester, Massachusetts, took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Mass., for a routine training flight.  He was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6024).  At 3:30 p.m. he was killed when his aircraft crashed into Higgins Swamp, a marshy area to the east of Barnes Airport in Westfield.  Although numerous persons witnessed the accident, the cause was not immediately known.

     Lt. Austin was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron.


     The Springfield Republican, (Springfield, Mass.), “Army Flier Dies In Westfield Crash”, December 1, 1942.  


Westhampton, MA. – April 10, 1943

Westhampton, Massachusetts – April 10, 1943


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 10, 1943, 2nd Lt. John Franklin Reed, 26, was piloting a P-47C Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6095), over the Westhampton area when the engine stopped.  A 12-year-old boy who witnessed the event later told a reporter that he saw the plane, with its motor not running, gliding overhead at a low altitude.  Then he saw the pilot jump, but his parachute didn’t fully open before he hit the ground.  The plane crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area off Route 66 in the southern portion of town.  The pilots body was found a short distance from the crash site.

     Lieutenant Reed was from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he attended Pine Bluff High School and graduated with honors.  He was a 1941 graduate of Ouachita Baptist College, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he earned academic honors, was active in athletics, and enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers Training Program, (ROTC).  After graduation he transferred to the Army Air Corps, and after completion of his training received his pilot wings and officer’s commission at Luke Field, Arizona.

     At the time of the accident he was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts. 

     He was survived by his mother and his wife whom he married in June of 1942.  Lt. Reed is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  


     Springfield Republican, (Mass.), “Westover Field Pilot Is killed At Westhampton”, April 11, 1943, page 1.  

     Arkansas Gazette, “Lt. Frank Reed Of Pine Bluff Crash Victim”, April 11, 1943, page 32

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943


Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 27, 1943, Ensign Thomas James Schmidt, (age 21 or 22), was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28658), taking part in a gunnery practice flight off Martha’s Vineyard.  After making his fourth firing run at fixed water targets, he leveled off and made an emergency water landing.  The aircraft sank within thirty seconds taking Ensign Schmidt with it.  The gunner, ARM3c E. A. Hollomon, was able to escape, and was rescued by a Coast Guard Cutter and taken to Newport Naval Hospital in Rhode Island for treatment. 

     It was later determined that the synchronizing unit regulating the .50 caliber machine gun in the nose of the aircraft had malfunctioned, and that the propeller had been damaged to the point that the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the water.    

     Both men were assigned to VC-32

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, #44-8818, dated September 27, 1943    


South Weymouth, MA. – September 14, 1944

South Weymouth, MA – September 14, 1944


U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura

     On September 14, 1944, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 33280), with seven crewmen aboard, left Groton, Connecticut, bound for the South Weymouth Naval Air Station.  While landing at South Weymouth, the hydraulic system for the brakes failed, causing the aircraft to go off the end of the runway.  The airplane was damaged beyond repair, but nobody aboard was hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VB-128

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated September 14, 1944.   

Ayer, MA. – June 12, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – June 12, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At approximately 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 12, 1944, an Ensign was landing an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42489), at the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer, Massachusetts, when one of the brakes failed upon touchdown. The right brake was weak, but the left one held, causing the aircraft to ground loop off the runway.  The Hellcat suffered minor damage, and the pilot received minor injuries.  

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report, dated June 12, 1944

Beverly, MA – June 13, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – June 13, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the morning of June 13, 1944, Lt. (jg.) Thomas J. Graham was attempting to land at the Beverly Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42495), when the aircraft suddenly lost power while it was at an altitude of 200 feet, and he crashed.  The aircraft was severely damaged, and the pilot was injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated June 13, 1944    

Ayer, MA. – July 14, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Ten miles north-west


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the morning of July 14, 1944, Ensign Beeman Falwell took off from the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer in a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40748), for a training flight.  When he was about ten miles north-west of the field, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, he began to experience a loss of power to the engine.  As the airplane began loosing altitude, the pilot began looking for a place to make an emergency landing.  Then a fire erupted in the engine, and the pilot knew he would have to jump.  He noted he was still over a populated area, so he decided to stay with the aircraft until it was over woodlands.  At the time he left the aircraft he was at the minimum level to jump and still have an expectation that the parachute would successfully open.  The parachute had just billowed open when the pilot landed in some trees sustaining injuries in the process.

     The aircraft crashed in a wooded are and was demolished.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944

Beverly, MA. – July 14, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Beverly Auxiliary Naval Air facility


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On July 14, 1944, an Ensign was taking off in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 65936), for a gunnery training flight when the engine failed just after he left the ground.  From an altitude of only 50 feet, the aircraft crashed at the end of the runway.  The plane was heavily damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.  The aircraft was transported to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island where it was salvaged.

     The Beverly Auxiliary Naval Air Facility was in use from 1942 to 1945.


     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944  


NAS Squantum – July 6, 1944

Naval Air station Squantum – July 6, 1944

Quincy, Massachusetts


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On July 6, 1944, a pilot took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40340), for a night training flight.  Almost immediately after takeoff the engine began to sputter and loose power.  The pilot attempted to make an emergency landing on another runway, however there was already other aircraft on it, so he was forced to make a water landing along the shoreline.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, however the pilot was unhurt.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report – dated July 6, 1944

Otis Field, MA. – June 14, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – June 14, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     In the early morning hours of June 14, 1944, a flight of navy aircraft were returning from a night training flight.  As one of the aircraft, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58145), was coming in to land, the pilot forgot to lower the landing gear, and belly landed on the runway before skidding to a stop.  The aircraft was badly damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.

     The aircraft was assigned to Fighter Squadron 81, (VF-81) 

     Source:  U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report, dated June 14, 1944 

Cummington, MA. – December 1, 1942

Cummington, Massachusetts – December 1, 1942


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 1, 1942, three P-47 aircraft left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a formation training flight.  While passing over the Westborough area, the flight ran into heavy clouds which extended low to the ground, and the planes became separated.  One of the aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6011), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Jack P. Lastor of the 340th Fighter Squadron.  While encountering severe weather over the town of Cummington, he was forced to bail out of his aircraft.  The P-47B went down in a pasture on a farm belonging to Leslie W. Joyner across from the Cummington-Worthington Highway.  Lt. Lastor landed safely, and although suffering an injury, was able to make his way to a farm house to call for help.             

     Another P-47 aircraft assigned to this training flight crashed in the town of Westborough, Massachusetts.  In that instance, 2nd Lt. Charles C. Hay was killed when his aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-5924), crashed and exploded on Tob Hill.    


     Springfield Republican, “Planes Crash In Westhampton, Cummington, December 1, 1942.    

     Springfield Republican, “Second Army Pilot Killed; Three Crash In Two Days”, December 2, 1942, page 1.

Lincoln, MA. – July 10, 1945

Lincoln, Massachusetts – July 10, 1945


B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 11:15 a.m. on July 10, 1945, a U.S. Navy B-26 aircraft took off from Bedford Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The B-26 aircraft was generally used by the Army Air Corps, however this particular airplane had been assigned to the navy.  The purpose of the flight was reported in the press to be “experimental”. 

     Shortly after take-off one of the engines caught fire causing the aircraft to rapidly loose altitude.  Witnesses on the ground reported seeing flames and smoke trailing from the plane as it went down.  The aircraft crashed and exploded on the Jensen Farm on Old Sudbury Road in the town of Lincoln.  All aboard perished.

     One witness to the accident was an unidentified Army veteran who’d flown 57 combat missions on a B-26.  He told a reporter, “I heard the plane take off from my home in Concord.  From the sound of the engine I knew immediately that the boys were in trouble.  It is a ‘hot’ ship, and very likely had a runaway prop.  When the engine in one of those babies cuts out you just have time to come down, unless you have plenty of space underneath.” 

     One of the flyers reportedly bailed out prior to the crash and was found, severely injured, by a group of boys who carried him to a nearby home where he died a short time later.     

     The navy flyers were identified as:

     Lt. William E. Ragsdale, of Artesia, New Mexico.

     Lt. James Thomas Hogan, 26, of Birmingham, Alabama.  He’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.  See, memorial #185466812.

     AMM 1/c Edwin T. Luther, of Bristol, Rhode Island.

     AMM Howard T. Marshall, age 22 or 23.  He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Moberly Missouri.  See, memorial #70597092.

     AMM 3/c Charles P. Rogers, of Sudbury, Pennsylvania.    


     Concord Journal, “Plane From Army Air Base Crashes In Woods In South Lincoln Area”, July 12, 1945, page 1.  

Cheshire, MA. – March 9, 1943

Cheshire, Massachusetts – March 9, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 4:15 p.m. on March 9, 1943, a P-47B aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Sommers D. Levermore, 22, crashed on the farm of Adolph Geoffron, located on Windsor Road, in Cheshire, Massachusetts. 

     Two children on their way home from school witnessed the accident and ran to a nearby home to alert the homeowner, who then called the state police barracks in Pittsfield. 

     Several nearby residents made their way through the snow to reach the plane, which had come to rest in two pieces at a tree line at the edge of a field.  The pilot was still alive, and first aid was given, but he died a short time later before an ambulance could arrive. 

     The cause of the crash was not stated.

     Lt. Levermore was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Lt. Levermore was from Rockville Center, New York.  To see a photograph of him, go to, memorial #156413374.  


     Unknown Newspaper, “Cheshire Plane Crash Fatal To Army Pilot”, March 10, 1943.  (Article found on

     Springfield Republican, “Cheshire Crash fatal To Young Army Flier; Plane Breaks In Two”, March 10, 1943, page 1



Westover Field, MA. – August 17, 1943

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – August 17, 1943    

P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of August 17, 1943, 2nd Lt. William E. Neudorfer was killed when the P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-6019), that he was piloting, crashed and burned as he was attempting to land at Westover Field.

     Lt. Neuforder was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron.

     He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.  To see a photo of his grave see, memorial #3614500. 


     Larry Webster – Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

Concord, MA. – July 19, 1945

Concord, Massachusetts – July 19, 1945


P-38 Lightning
U.S. Air Force photo

     At about 9:30 a.m. on July 19, 1945, a U.S. Army P-38L, (Ser. No. 44-53016), crashed and exploded in a wooded area of the Concord Country Club.  No further information is known at this time.


    Concord Journal, “Another Plane Crashes In Woods – This Time At Concord Country Club”, July 19, 1945, page 1


Holyoke, MA. – May 22, 1943

Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 22, 1943


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On Saturday, May 22, 1943, two Army P-47 fighter planes collided in mid-air over the city of Holyoke.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6072), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Charnelle P. Larsen, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.  The other P-47, (Ser. No. 41-6050), was piloted by another 2nd lieutenant.  Both men were assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron based at Westover Filed in Chicopee, Massachusetts.   

     The accident occurred at 6:20 pm, and numerous people saw the collision and watched the planes come down.  As both aircraft began to fall, the pilot of P-47 #41-6050 bailed out while the aircraft was at an altitude of only 700 feet, and remarkably, and his parachute opened successfully.  His airplane crashed into a large tree before striking the side of a two-story brick house at the corner of Hampden and Linden Streets where it exploded into flame.  The pilot meanwhile landed safely in a nearby tall tree on Linden Street, but had to wait to be rescued.    

     A mother and her two older sons were in the house at the time, but were not seriously injured.  A mailman was wounded when the flames began setting off the machinegun bullets in the wrecked airplane.  One bullet struck him in the right hand, but the injury was not life threatening.       

     As to Lieutenant Larsen, one wing of his aircraft was severely damaged from the collision, but he fought to maintain control because he was over a heavily populated neighborhood.  Witnesses reported seeing him try to steer his plane away from the area, but it continued to fall despite his best efforts.  He was killed instantly when his plane crashed and exploded in an alleyway between the homes facing Pine and Beach Streets, to the south of Appleton Street.  While some buildings suffered damage, there were no reported injuries. One account stated the aircraft came down behind 200 Pine Street.

     Lt. Larsen was praised by the Mayor for his heroic decision to remain with his aircraft in order to protect civilians on the ground.   


     Holyoke Daily Transcript, “Lt. Larsen Dies Avoiding Local Homes In Saturday’s Double Crash”, May 34, 1943, page 1.   

     Unknown newspaper, “Army Flier Killed, Second escapes In Holyoke Collision”, May 22, 1943 

The Williamsburg, Mass. B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

The Williamsburg, Massachusetts B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of May 1, 1945, a flight of U. S. Army B-24 Liberator aircraft left Westover Field Air Base  in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  Briefing for the flight had been held at 3:00 a.m. during which the pilots had been told that there would be a low cloud overcast covering the area, but that it was expected to clear.  However, after the flight was airborne for nearly two hours, instead of improving, weather conditions had continued to deteriorate, and the overcast gradually extended lower and lower to the ground.        

      Shortly before 8:30 a.m., one aircraft, a B-24J, (Ser. No. 42-50995), began to drop down through the overcast, which by now extended nearly to the ground.  The crew however, was unaware of this.  The pilots watched the altimeter closely.  It was reading 1,500 feet when they suddenly broke through the mist and found themselves at tree-top level over the town of Williamsburg, Massachusetts.  The pilots attempted to climb and gave the engines full throttle but it wasn’t enough.  The plane barely missed a private home before it began clipping tree-tops for a third of a mile and then crashed into a wooded area of second-growth trees off Briar Hill Road. The B-24 plowed several hundred feet though the woods knocking down trees and smashing through stone walls, breaking apart in the process.  Although its fuel tanks held high-octane aviation fuel, there was no fire which saved the lives of crew members trapped in the wreckage.    

     Two of the crew were killed instantly in the crash, a third died two days later.  The other seven suffered serious injuries. Only the co-pilot was able to extricate himself form the wreckage.  

     Among the first to reach the scene were some local residents including Doctor Ruth V. Hemenway, and a group of wood cutters who had been working nearby.  Fire and rescue crews from Williamsburg, Northampton, and Westover Field, as well as state and local police, also arrived to help.  It reportedly took rescuers more than an hour to free those trapped in the wreckage.  The injured were transported Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.       

     Those who lost their lives were identified as:

     (Nose Gunner) Corporal Kenneth Virgil Powell, age 19, of Urbana, Ohio.  

     (Gunner) Corporal Donald R. McKenzie, of Spokane, Washington. Cpl. McKenzie was survived by his wife and daughter. 

     (Gunner) Corporal Joseph Skwara, of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Cpl. Skwara survived the initial crash, but later succumbed to his injuries. 

    The following images of the crash scene are from the U.S. Air Force investigation report.

 Click on images to enlarge.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.


     Army Air Forces Report Of Major Accident, #45-5-1-5

     Research Paper, “Burgy Plane Crash, Briar Hill, 1945”, by Ralmon Jon Black, Williamsburg Historical Society, 2012.  Includes articles from the Springfield Union News, and Daily Hampshire Gazette, and other information about the accident.  

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Third Member Of Crew In Bomber Dies From Injuries”, May 3, 1945 

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Fire Chief Is Commended By Colonel Henry”, May 8, 1945

     Book, “History Of The Williamsburg Fire Department”, by Mary S. Bisbee, Roger A. Bisbee, Peter B. Banister, c. 1998

     Obituary for Cpl. Donald McKenzie, Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 5, 1945, page 6.





Missing British Airmen of WWII

Missing British Airmen Of WWII

     Unfortunately no further details are available as of this posting. 

     On October 8, 1943, it was announced by the U.S. naval commander of the Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts, that units of the fleet arm of the British Royal Navy would be engaged in operational training at Squantum.   

     On December 7, 1943, three British naval fliers disappeared and were presumably killed when their plane went down in the water while on a training flight off Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The Coast Guard was unable to locate any trace of the missing plane, which carried two officers and one enlisted man.  The identities of the airmen and the type of aircraft were not released. 

     On March 14, 1944, a similar disappearance occurred while another British aircraft was “some distance at sea” while on a training flight out of Squantum.  That aircraft also carried two officers and one enlisted man, and their identities, and type of aircraft, were not released.


     Nashua Telegraph, “British Naval Airmen Train At Squantum”, October 8, 1943

     Schenectady Gazette, “Three Missing In Squantum Crash”, December 8, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “British Plane Missing From Base At Squantum”, March 16, 1944

UPDATE – March 6, 2017

     More information has been learned about the December 7, 1943 incident.  The three men aboard the missing plane were:

     Sub-Lieutenant Henry H. Lilley, son of Hugh Lilley of 12 Council House, Wisbech Road, Thornley, Peterborough, Northants, England. 

     Sub-Lieutenant Geoffrey J. Walters, son of William Waters of 103 Green Dragon Lane, Winchmore Hill, London, England.

     Leading Airman Donald Afford, son of Mrs. F. E. Afford, 273 Belgrace Road, Balasll Heath, Birmingham, England.

     All were members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, (RNVR)


     Patriot Ledger, “Reveal Identity Of Squantum Fliers Lost In recent Accident”, December 8, 1943    

     Those airmen lost in the March 14, 1944 incident have been identified as:

     Sub-Lieutenant Kenneth L. Leapman

     Sub-Lieutenant John R. Purton

     Leading Airman Henry T. Seddon

     The men were flying the British version of the U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger, (Bu. No. JZ-496) when they were lost on an anti-submarine training mission.


     RNVR Officers 1939-1945,

     Royal Navy Casualties, Killed and Died, March 1944,   


Plymouth Bay, MA – March 20, 1945

Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts – March 20, 1945


F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On March 20, 1945, Ensign Richard C. Forisso was piloting an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 50513), over Plymouth Bay making practice bomb runs.  At one point while at 4,000 feet, hydraulic fluid and gasoline began spraying from under the instrument panel followed by smoke filling the cockpit. The fluids got all over the pilot’s lower extremities and partially obscured his vision. 

     Ensign Forisso elected to stay with the aircraft and aim it for a safe area of the water away from shore and watercraft.  He cut the engine and made a wheels up water landing, suffering minor cuts and bruises in the process.   He was able to escape before the plane sank to the bottom. 

     Maintenance records showed that the hydraulic lines on this particular aircraft had broken twice previously.  Rough weather put off the recovery of the aircraft for four days.  Once it was recovered, mechanics discovered a 1/2 inch crack in the hydraulic line behind the instrument panel.  This aircraft was later scrapped due to the time it had stayed submerged in salt water.


     U.S. Navy accident brief.     

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Airman Prevents Crash On Plymouth Buildings”, March 21, 1945

Mattapoisett, MA – May 12, 1942

Mattapoisett, Massachusetts – May 12, 1942

     On May 12, 1942, 2nd Lt. Clarence V. Jones was piloting an L-1 observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 40-276) on a patrol mission over the Buzzards Bay area of Cape Cod.  At  1:30 p.m., he turned inland over the town of Mattapoisett.  Shortly afterwards the plane’s engine began to run rough and the aircraft began to rapidly loose altitude.  The aircraft dropped so low that it was headed straight for a private home, so Lt. Jones banked to the left to avoid crashing into it.  He was hoping to make for an open area when the wing struck a telephone pole and wrecked the plane.  The plane landed upside down, but there was no fire.  Lt. Jones and his passenger, 2nd Lt. William E. Plumer escaped with minor injuries.   

     The men were assigned to the 101st Observation Squadron at Otis Field, In Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-12-6    

Off Scituate, MA – February 24, 1942

Off Scituate, Massachusetts – February 24, 1942


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 24, 1942, 2nd Lt. Dennis J. Dowling, 22, was on a formation flying training flight when his P-40E (Ser. No. 41-5692) inexplicably crashed into the water two-and-a-half miles off the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts, from an altitude of 2,000 feet.    

     Lt. Dowling did not survive, and a search for his body was instituted.  It’s unknown as of this posting if he was recovered.  

     The accident investigation committee was unable to determine a cause for the crash, but mechanical failure was suspected based on two witnesses who stated they saw intermittent smoke trailing from the airplane shortly before the accident.

     Lt. Dowling had recently been married only two weeks earlier in Revere, Massachusetts.   He’d received his pilots wings December 12, 1941, at Turner Field, in Alabama.  At the time of the crash he was assigned to the 64th Pursuit Squadron (I), stationed in Boston, Mass.


     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-24-1.   

     Daily Record, “Bridegroom Dies In Plane Plunge”, February 25, 1942

     Boston Herald, “Plane Plunge Kills Army Bridegroom”, February 25, 1942

     Boston Evening Globe, “Army Flyer, Wed 10 Days, Killed; Body Still In Sea”, February 25, 1942


Westover Field, MA – March 20, 1942

Westover Field, Massachusetts – March 20, 1942 


U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 20, 1942, a U.S. Army A-29, (ser. no. 41-23329) lost power and crashed and burned on take off at Westover Field.  Fortunately the entire six man crew was able to escape through the rear of the aircraft.


     Source: U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-3-20-2




Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Updated April 29, 2016

     On March 29, 1945, the body of Richard Parr Harper, 19, (United States Navy) was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean eight miles north of Race Point Lighthouse located in Provincetown, Massachusetts.   He had been aboard a navy airplane that was lost at sea on March 1, 1945.  No further details of the accident are known. 

     Harper was born in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Detroit for burial.    

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-27 

     Updated Information   

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger
National Archives Photo

     The United States destroyer U.S.S. Schenck (DD-159) was launched in 1919, and served various duties during its career including service in World War II.  In September of 1944 she was re-designated AG-82, and served the remainder of the war as a surface vessel that provided target practice for student pilots.  

     On the night of March 1, 1954, the Schenck was ten miles off Provincetown, (The tip of Cape Cod), Massachusetts, serving in her role as a target vessel, when a navy TBM-3D, (Bu. No. 22955), crashed into her superstructure and plunged into the ocean taking both crewmen to the bottom with her.

     Those aboard the Avenger included the pilot, Ensign Chapman W. Lucas, and ADM 3/c Richard P. Harper.    

     A crewman aboard the Schenck was also killed in this incident, but he was not identified in the newspaper articles.


     Lewiston Evening Journal, (ME.) “Navy Plane Collides With Surface Craft; Two Fliers Missing And Seaman Dead”, March 2, 1945  

     Norwalk Hour,(CT.) “2 navy Filers Lost In target Practice”, March 2, 1945

     Wikipedia – U.S.S. Schenck

Off Provincetown, MA – May 8, 1944

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

41 52.1N/70 16.4W

     Few details are available about this accident. 

     Updated March 2, 2016

     On May 8, 1944, a navy plane out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station crashed in the ocean off Provincetown, Massachusetts, resulting in three fatalities.  The coordinates of the crash are listed above.  They were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Jg. Norwood Harris Dobson, 27, of Ellenboro, North Carolina.  He’s buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Ellenboro. 

     ARM 3c Arthur Normand Levesque, 18, of Lonsdale (Lincoln) Rhode Island. He’s buried Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket, R.I.    

     (Missing) Aviation Ordinance man 3c John Werner Dahlstrom, 19, believed to be from Michigan.  Information about him was not listed among the death certificates.         


     Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates (N.K. GOV. 77) and (N.K. Gov. 78)

     Lewiston Evening Sun, “Identifies Fliers Killed In Cape Cod navy Plane crash”, May 10, 1944

Mansfield, MA – September 13, 1945

Mansfield, Massachusetts – September 13, 1945


SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On April 19, 1945, Ensign Thomas Daniel Murphy, 21, of Chicago, was killed when the SB2C Helldiver he was piloting crashed and burned in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  No further details of the accident are available.

     Ensign Murphy was assigned to Bombing Squadron 4 (VB-4) based at Groton Field in Groton, Connecticut.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Chicago for burial.  


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-87

     Naval History & Heritage Command – U.S. Navy,


Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Updated June 8, 2018

     On the night of June 21, 1945, navy pilot John Huddleston Heath, 27, was killed when his aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   His body was not recovered until September 13, 1945, about two miles off Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

     The type of plane, Heath’s rank, and details of the accident are unknown.

     Heath’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before burial.  The location of his burial is unknown.  He was originally from New Orleans, La.  He died just three days before his 28th birthday.  

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-86  


     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Searches For Two Bodies”, June 22, 1945, page 1.

     According to an article found in the Cape Cod Standard Times, there were two men aboard the aircraft at the time of this accident.  The article reported how search vessels were operating south of Hyannisport, Massachusetts, searching for two navy men believed lost when their airplane was observed to crash into the water approximately three miles south of Hyannisport around 10:00 a.m. on June 21st.   

     The aircraft was described as an advanced trainer with two officers aboard.  Their names were being withheld.   

Hyannis, MA – April 20, 1945

Hyannis, Massachusetts – April 20, 1945

     On the night of April 20, 1945, Ensign Roger Lee Thornton, 22, was killed when the navy aircraft he was piloting crashed about 1.5 miles N.N.E. of the Hyannis Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The type of plane and cause of the crash are unknown.

     Ensign Thornton’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Columbus, Ohio, for burial. He was survived by his wife Laura Katherine Thornton.  

     To see a photo of Ensign Thornton’s grave go to and see memorial #51907830.


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-39 

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Pilot Killed In Crash”, April 21, 1945


Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944

Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944


F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 16, 1944, Ensign William O. Seymour Jr., 23, was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat,(Bu. No. 58882), with other aircraft based at the Squantum Naval Air Station, on an air-to-air target practice mission over Dorchester Bay.  (Seymour’s aircraft was assigned to tow a cloth target sleeve behind it while other aircraft took turns making attack runs.)

     Afterwards, as the planes returned to Squantum in preparation for landing,  the engine of  Seymour’s Hellcat began misfiring.  Being over a heavily populated area, the pilot opted to stay with the aircraft rather than bail out.  The plane rapidly lost altitude as it passed over Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood, heading towards Malibu Beach where the pilot hoped to make an emergency landing.  Unfortunately, it being a hot summer day, the beach was crowded with roughly 3,000 people.  As Seymour approached the beach at barely 100 feet off the ground, his vision of the crowd was blocked by a sea wall.  It wasn’t until the last second that he saw all the people and quickly yanked the Hellcat towards the water.  He crashed about 200 yards from shore in about 15 feet of water.   

     One lifeguard who witnesses the accident later told reporters, “It hit first on the left wing, because he swung away from the beach sharply to avoid striking the crowd.  It snapped over so fast that it went end over end, and then the fuselage seemed to crumple up and the plane sank.”

     Several men swam out to the spot where the Hellcat went down in an attempt to rescue the airman, but they were unsuccessful.  Seymour’s body was later recovered by men from the crash-rescue boat sent form Squantum.  

     Ensign Seymour was born in Monroe, North Carolina, and graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 1938.  He volunteered for the navy in July of 1942, and received his pilot’s wings and Ensign’s commission on October 9, 1943.  He is buried in Monroe Cemetery. 

     For his actions and quick thinking in sacrificing himself in order to save others, he was posthumously awarded a Presidential Citation and the Navy & Marine Corps medal for bravery.


     NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base, by Marc Frattasio (Pgs. 218-219)

     The Boston Post, (No headline available) Monday, July 17, 1944

     The Gold Star Mothers Homepage – William O. Seymour, Jr.

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 16, 1944





Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

B-24 Liberator U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 12, 1943, a B-24 Liberator (42-7225) took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a nighttime high altitude navigational and gunnery training flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  The aircraft was never seen again.

     The air crew was assigned to the 758th Bombardment Squadron, 459th Bomb Group.  

     The lost crewmen were listed as follows:

     (Pilot) Lt. William P. Masters

     (Co-Pilot) Lt. R. R. Hansen  (First name unknown)

     (Gunner) Sgt. Cecil H. Conklin

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anthony L. Greco

     (Gunner) Sgt. Dean G. McCaffrey

     (Radio Operator) Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman

     (Flight Engineer) Sgt. Stanley E. Zajac

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

   A memorial to these men can be seen at the New England Air Museum in Winsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Click on image to enlarge.

     Source: 459th bombardment Group website

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945


U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     Just after midnight on the morning of January 6, 1945, navy Lieutenant Robert L. deVeer was making a night training flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane, a TBM Avenger, went down in a wooded area near the Mayhew Memorial Chapel in North Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard.  Although seriously injured, deVeer was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage.  He was transported to Chelsea Naval Hospital for treatment.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Injured Flyer Has Home Here”, January 12, 1945


Fort Devens, MA – April 21, 1942

Fort Devens – April 21, 1942

     At about 7:45 p.m. on April 21, 1942, a U.S. Army O-52 (40-4702) was returning from a training flight when it suddenly crashed near a small pond at Fort Devens killing both occupants. 

     The dead were identified as 1st Lt. Gerald Patrick Kennedy, 26, of Providence, R.I., and 2nd Lt. Robert Wright Hoeker, 24, of Illiopolia, Ill.   Later in the evening Kennedy was scheduled to attend a party in his honor due to his recent promotion to first lieutenant.  As a point of fact, Lt. Hoeker wasn’t scheduled to be on that flight, but he had taken the place of another officer.   

     The aircraft was part of the 152nd Observation Squadron, and it was reported that these were the first airplane related fatalities in the history of the 152nd.  The 152nd had been stationed at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I. prior to being transferred in the summer of 1941 to  Fort Devens. 

     Today there is a hanger named for Lt. Kennedy  at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I. (Formerly Hillsgrove)


Woonsocket Call, “Army Probing Devens Plane Crash In Which 2 Met Death”, April 22, 1942, Pg. 1


Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Updated March 7, 2016


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 28, 1942, 2nd Lt. Albert J. Wiebe was on a formation training flight over the Boston area when his aircraft, a P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-539) developed engine trouble.  He left the formation to return to Boston Airport.  As he was making his approach to land when his plane lost power and crashed.  Lt. Wiebe did not survive.

      Lt. Wiebe was from West New York, New Jersey.  He enlisted in September of 1941, and received his commission on April 23, 1942.  He was survived by his wife.    

     At the time of his death he was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.


     New York Times, “4 Army Fliers Die In Ohio”, June 29, 1942  (The article covered more than one accident.)

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated July 12, 1942

Nantucket Sound – April 3, 1945

Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts – April 3, 1945     

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz


The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I.  Photo taken June, 2008.

The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I. Photo taken June, 2008.

     On April 3, 1945, a flight of seven U.S. Navy Hellcats were on a training mission off the coast of Nantucket when one suffered a loss of oil pressure; an F6F-5, Bu. No. 70185.   The pilot, Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, notified the flight leader of his predicament, and was ordered to land at Martha’s Vineyard, and began heading that way.  While en-route, the engine seized, and he was forced to ditch in the water.  Frankwitz scrambled from the plane before it sank, and was seen bobbing in the 42 degree water for the next twenty minutes.  Rescue craft were launched, but Ensign Frankwitz succumbed to hypothermia before help could arrive, and his body sank beneath the waves.  It was never recovered.

     On August 13, 1993, a Massachusetts Army National Guard helicopter was flying over Nantucket Sound when the crew chief saw what he thought was an aircraft wreck on the ocean floor.  The Coast Guard was notified, and investigation revealed that the wreck was an old one, draped with fishing nets.      

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible - Quonset Air Museum

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible – Quonset Air Museum

      Later in 1993, the aircraft was identified by Larry Webster, an aviation archeologist and historian with the Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island, as likely being the one flown by Ensign Frankwitz.   Divers who examined the wreck later confirmed this to be the case.    

     The  Hellcat was in remarkably good condition despite its years in salt water.  On December 4, 1993, the aircraft was raised and brought to Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, where it was carefully dismantled before it was shipped to the Quonset Air Museum for restoration.    

     As of this writing, the Hellcat is still undergoing restoration, and when it’s completed, it will serve as a memorial to Ensign Frankwitz, and all Navy and Marine airmen who lost their lives in WWII.   

      The name of Ensign Frankwitz can be found on the Charlestown Auxiliary Landing Field  memorial in Ninigret Park, in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  

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