Rentschler Field – May 3, 1944

Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut – May 3, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of May 3, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with a crew of eleven men aboard, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a night training flight.  While over the Hartford, Connecticut, area the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot, 2nd Lt. John W. Garrett, age 19, attempted to make an emergency landing at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.  The B-24 crashed upon landing, killing Lt. Garrett, and injuring four members of the crew.  The other six escaped without injury. 

     Lt. Garrett is buried in Green Mountain Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. To see a photograph of Lt. Garrett, as well as a photo of his grave, see  www.findagrave.com, Memorial #114672261.   

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed In East Hartford Crash”, May 4, 1944   

     www.findagrave.com

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

East Granby, CT – November 8, 1944

East Granby, Connecticut – November 8, 1944 

Updated December 16, 2017

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 8, 1944, a B-24J, (Ser. No.  42-51001), with twelve men aboard,  left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a scheduled combat crew training mission.  Once airborne, the plane headed south over Connecticut.  While over Connecticut, one of the engines began trailing smoke and before long flames became visible.  Despite efforts by the pilot, the aircraft continued to loose altitude, and it became apparent that an emergency landing was the only option.   The pilot aimed for an open area of pastureland located off Route 9 in East Granby, on what was then known as the Seymour Farm.   As the plane passed over the highway it clipped a telephone pole sending it out of control into a marshy section of the pasture where the wings and fuselage broke apart before coming to rest.  There was no fire, but one injured crewman was trapped in the crumpled wreckage and it was several hours before he could be extricated.   

     Of the twelve crewmen aboard, five were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

      Cpl. Gaetano L. Fastiggi, a top-turret-gunner from New Rochelle, N.Y., born September 23, 1925.  He enlisted in the army on April 5, 1944.  He’s buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in New Rochelle.    

      Cpl. Henry Colt Fay Jr., a gunner from Milburn, N.J., born September 12, 1923.  He’s buried in the Winsted Old Burying Ground, in Winsted, Connecticut.    

      Cpl. Charles W. Powell, a gunner from Holdenville, OK., born September 7, 1920.  He’s buried in Holdenville Cemetery.

      Cpl. Furman Watson, a gunner from Seneca, S.C., born June 22, 1923.  He’s buried in New Hope Cemetery in Seneca.

      Pfc. Lester L. Shoemaker, a tail-gunner from Hanover, PA., born September 18, 1918.  He’s buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Hanover.  

     Those who were seriously injured included:

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. Roland C. Curtiss.

     The co-pilot, Flight Officer Reese A. McClennahan, Jr.

     The bombardier, Flight Officer Vincent M. Vallaro.

     Gunner, Cpl. Francis A. Crawford.

     Gunner, Cpl. Cono A. Galliani.

     Gunnery Instructor, Staff Sgt. Charles J. Nigro. 

     The navigator parachuted safely away from the plane and received only minor injuries.  

     Today a housing development occupies the crash site. 

     Sources;

     The Hartford Courant, “Five Flyers Killed, Seven Injured As Bomber Crashes In East Granby”, November 9, 1944, page 1.

     New York Times, “Bomber Crash Kills 5”, November 9, 1944

     Town of East Granby Death Records

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Cpl. Gaetano Fastiggi Killed With 4 Others In Bomber Crash”, November 9, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi’s Body Is Escorted Here”, November 11, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi Rites Attended By 300”, November 13, 1944.

 

 

 

Camel’s Hump Mt. – October 16, 1944

Camel’s Hump Mountain, Vermont- October 16, 1944

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On October 16, 1944, a U. S. Army B-24J Liberator (#42-51067) crashed into Camel’s Hump Mountain killing all but one crewman aboard.  The sole survivor was Aerial Gunner James W. Wilson who was found by members of the Civil Air Patrol a short distance from the wreck.  Investigators found the wreckage near the top of the 4,083 mountain, covering more than an acre of land.   

     Other members of the crew included:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. David E. Potter, age 30.  To see a photo of Lt. potter, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #54537510.

     Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Robert W. Geoffrey

     Flight Officer John J. Ramasocky, age 23

     Navigator: 1st Lt. David C. Mcnary, age 26

     Bombardier: Corporal Luther N. Hagler, age 21

     Radio Operator: Corporal Robert E. Denton, age 22 or 23

     Gunner: PFC Richard C. Wynne, age 18

     Gunner: PFC Casper Zacher, age 19

     A memorial plaque and a wing section of the aircraft can be found at the crash site.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Single Member Of Crashed Bomber’s Crew Found Alive Near Vermont Mountain Debris”, October 18, 1944, pg. 1

     Aircraft Info supplied by Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

     New York Times, “Bomber Wreck Found On Vermont Mountain”, October 18, 1944

     www.findagrave.com

     Unknown Newspaper, “Wreckage Of Missing Westover Plane Found”, October 18, 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

www.459bg.org/758th_squadron_servicemen.cfm

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