Squantum NAS – May 20, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 20, 1944

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On May 20, 1944, an SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 5660), was in the process of taking off from the Squantum Naval Air Station when the pilot suddenly aborted the takeoff and applied the brakes.  The aircraft nosed over and was damaged.  The undercarriage broke loose, and the left wing, propeller, engine cowling, were all damaged, as well as the engine due to the sudden stoppage.  The pilot and his instructor were not hurt.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-14365), dated May 20, 1944. 

Squantum N.A.S. – Oct. 15, 1946 (photo)

Squantum Naval Air Station, Mass. - Oct. 15, 1946

Squantum Naval Air Station, Mass. – Oct. 15, 1946

Quincy, MA – February 16, 1948

Quincy, Massachusetts – February 16, 1948

    

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On February 16, 1948, Lt (Jg.) Richard Stephansky took off from Squantum Naval Air Station in a F4U Corsair for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, while at an altitude of 500 feet, the aircraft suffered engine failure.  Lt. Stephansky was forced to make an emergency crash landing in a marshy area along the banks of the Neponset River about four miles from the air station.  He was not injured. 

     Source:

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Navy Pilot Escapes Injury As Plane Crashes In Swamp”, February 16, 1948        

Quincy, MA – July 7, 1947

Quincy, Massachusetts – July 7, 1947 

    

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 7, 1947, a U. S. Navy, SB2C Helldiver, took off from Squantum Naval Air Station with two men aboard for a routine training flight.  There was the pilot, Ensign George E. Curley, 26, and Storekeeper 3/C Hugh F. Ahern, 20, both of Boston.    

     Shortly after take off the aircraft suffered a sudden engine failure and crashed into three homes on Faxon Road in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy.  The plane tore the chimney off the first home, then struck the roof of the second, before crashing into a third where it burst into flames and destroyed the home.      

     Ensign Curley was killed, but Ahern was thrown clear, and although he suffered serious injuries, he survived.

     The 60-year-old homeowner of the third house suffered burns while escaping.  The only other reported injury was to a fireman who suffered smoke inhalation while battling the blaze.  Both recovered.      

     Sources:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Plane Crashes Quincy House; Pilot Killed”, July 7, 1947 

     New York Times, “Navy Plane Dives Into Three Houses”, July 7, 1947

     The Spokesman-Review, (Spokane, Wash.) “Navy Plane Hits House; 1 Killed”, July 7, 1947

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 Oran 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 witnessed 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.

     He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 45, (VF-45)

     To see a photo of Ensign Seymour go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #4667714.  

     Sources:

     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

     www.findagrave.com

  

             

    

        

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