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 www.findagrave.com.  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.

     Sources:

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

     www.findagrave.com

 

Chicopee, MA. – June 27, 1958

Chicopee, Massachusetts – June 27, 1958

     Shortly after midnight on June 27, 1958, four U.S. Air Force KC-135 jet tankers were scheduled to make a transatlantic flight from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee to London, England.  The purpose of the flight was to try to establish a new overseas speed record for the aircraft.   

     The first two aircraft took off without incident however, the third aircraft, (Ser. No. 56-3599), stalled just after takeoff and crashed about 1.25 miles off the end of the runway.  The tanker came down across the Massachusetts Turnpike and impacted on a farm located on Fuller Road where it exploded in a massive fireball that was seen for miles.  All fifteen men aboard were killed instantly. 

     The fourth aircraft was then ordered not to take off.

    The Turnpike was covered with debris and had to be closed to all traffic.  Electrical power was knocked out throughout the area as the aircraft had struck some power lines prior to impact.

     Of the fifteen men aboard, eight were civilian journalists.

     The dead were identified as:

     Brig. Gen. Donald W. Saunders, 45, of Athens, New York.  He was Commander of the 57th Air Division at Westover AFB.  To see a photo of Gen. Saunders, go to www.findagrave.com.   

     Lt. Col. George Broutsas, 39, of Brattleboro, Vermont.  He was the aircraft commander. He’s buried in Meeting House Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro.

     Captain James Shipman, 34, of Kansas City, Kansas.  He was the aircraft’s navigator. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  

     Captain John B. Gordon, 29, of Raleigh, North Carolina.  He’s buried in Mountain Memorial Park in Raleigh.  

     Lieutenant Joseph C. Sweet, 26, of Chandler, Arizona.  He’s buried in Resthaven Park East Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.  

     Master Sergeant Donald H. Gabbard, 37, of Los Gatos, California.  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Technical Sergeant Joseph G. Hutter, 26, of Miami, Florida.  He’s buried in Arlington, National Cemetery.

     Civilians aboard included:

     Daniel J. Coughlin, 31, of Boston – Associated Press 

     Norman Montellier, 37, of New York City – United Press International

     Glenn A. Williams, 41, of Bethesda, Maryland – U.S. News & World Report

     Robert A. Ginsburgh, (Also spelled Ginsburg in some accounts), 63, of the U.S. News & World Report. He was also a retired brigadier general from the U.S. Air Force.

     James L. McConaughy, Jr., Time and Life Magazine.

     Robert Sibley, 57, of Belmont, Massachusetts – Aviation editor of the Boston Traveler.

     William Cochran – National Aeronautical Association

     William Enyart – National Aeronautical Association

     The aircraft involved in this accident was part of the 99th Air refueling Squadron based at Westover.   

     This was the second accident for a Westover aerial tanker since aerial tankers had been assigned to the base in the spring of 1955.  The first accident occurred on January 22, 1957, when a KC-97 tanker crashed in Rome, New York, killing all seven crewmen aboard.     

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “KC135 Falls In Flames Near Base At Start Of London Record Flight”, June 27, 1958

     Springfield Union, “Residents Terrified As Disaster Strikes”, June 27, 1958

     Fitchburg Sentinel, “Air Force Jet Plane Explodes After Westover Takeoff”, June 27, 1958

     www.findagrave.com

 

Westover AFB – August 12, 1953

Westover Air Force Base – August 12, 1953

Chicopee, Massachusetts

     On August 12,1953, a U.S. Navy R6D-1 (#131586) crashed on take-off from Westover Air Force Base, for what was to be a routine train1ng flight.  According to witnesses, the plane had just lifted off, and while at an altitude of about 200 feet, it suddenly banked sharply to the right, and dropped low enough for the right wing to strike the ground.  The plane then cart-wheeled, broke apart, and burst into flames.   All four navy men aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Lt. Frank A. McGinnis

Lt. Frank A. McGinnis

     (Pilot) Lieutenant Frank A. McGinnis, 34, of Haledon, New Jersey.  He served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII.  He was survived by his wife and three children.  

Lt. Cmdr. Chester E. Perkins

Lt. Cmdr. Chester E. Perkins

     (Co-pilot) Lieut. Commander Chester Earl Perkins, 35, of Corpus Christi, Texas.  He was a veteran of WWII, having served as a ferry service pilot.  He’s buried in Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston, and was survived by his wife, Catherine.  To see other photographs of Lt. Cmdr. Perkins, and learn more info, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #128688567  

J. T. Carew

J. T. Carew

     (Flight Mechanic) Aviation Machinist’s Mate, J. T. Carew, 24, of Maynard, Massachusetts.  (Carew was only identified by his first initials, and attempts to learn his first name were unsuccessful.)

William A. Holmes

William A. Holmes

     Aviation Machinist’s Mate William A. Holmes, 23, of Merrian, Kansas.  He joined the navy in 1948, and had been stationed at Westover since 1949.  In 1950 he married a girl from Holyoke, Massachusetts, and they had two sons.  He’s buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas, Block #20.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #147995382)

     The Douglas R6D-1 was a four-engine cargo-transport aircraft that was also known as a DC-6. 

     Source:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Probe Crash OF Navy Plane That Killed 4 At Westover”, August, 13 or 14, 1953.   

     

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