Block Island Sound – January 12, 1988

Block Island Sound – January 12, 1988

     On January 12, 1988, a Cessna 152 with two men aboard was taking part in a naval test of unarmed torpedoes about three miles south to the entrance of Narragansett Bay when the aircraft suddenly fell from an altitude of 600 feet and crashed into the water.  The pilot was able to escape and was rescued, but the observer, navy Petty Officer First Class James W. Fletcher was trapped inside and went down with the aircraft in 115 feet deep water.   

     The wreckage of the aircraft was later located, and Fletcher’s body was recovered by a navy diver, however the aircraft was not. 

     Petty Officer First Class Fletcher was born in Caldwell, Idaho, and raised in Hines, Oregon.  He enlisted in the navy in 1967 and was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  In 1986 he was involved with the rescue of a helicopter pilot who crashed in Narraganset Bay and cited for his actions.  At the time of his death he was assigned to the Naval Underwater Systems Center.  He’s buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery  in Paris, Arkansas. 


     Providence Journal, “Divers Recover Body Of Navy Man Lost On Jan. 12”, January 23, 1988, page A-8

    Providence Journal, “Navy Won’t try To Raise Downed Airplane Wreck”, February 4, 1988, page C-3


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