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.


     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.)

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 www.findagrave.com, memorial #55039852 


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






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

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.      


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 www.findagrave.com, memorial #3614500. 


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


Westover Field, MA – May 8, 1942

Westover Field, Massachusetts – May 8 1942


B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Just after 4:00 p.m. on May 8, 1942, an LB-30 bomber aircraft (#AL-590) came in for a landing at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  After the aircraft had rolled approximately half-way down the runway the pilot, Capt. Kermit A. Harcos, applied the brakes and the nose wheel began to shimmy violently before it broke off causing the nose of the plane to strike the runway.  The LB-30 skidded to a stop at the intersection of runways 15 and 19.  Although the aircraft suffered damage, none of the four-man crew were hurt.

     Besides Capt. Harcos, the other crewmen were identified as:

     (Co-pilot) Capt. James A. Johnson

     (Engineer) S/Sgt. Gilbert E. Bardo

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. H. M. Cunningham

     The LB-30 aircraft was an early version of the B-24 Liberator. 

     The aircraft involved in this accident was repaired and flown to England on July 20, 1942.  On December 8, 1943, it ran out of fuel in bad weather and crash landed near Cazes, Morocco.   


     U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-8-11

     www.joebaugher.com website


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