Peru, MA. – August 15, 1942

Peru, Massachusetts – August 15, 1942 

     On August 15, 1942, a flight of eleven Army transport planes took off from Pope Field, North Carolina, bound for Hyannis, Massachusetts.  The aircraft were transporting paratroopers assigned to the 502nd Parachute Battalion. 

     The planes made a scheduled refueling stop at Mitchell Field on Long Island, N. Y.  By this time weather conditions had significantly deteriorated at both Long Island and Hyannis, so the flight was diverted to Hillsgrove Airfield in Warwick, Rhode Island.  However, once airborne again the formation found itself in thick clouds and the planes became separated as they lost visual contact with each other and the ground.  It was now nighttime, and the pilots were forced to fly on instruments.  

     At about 9:30 P.M. one of the aircraft, a C-53 troop transport, (Ser. No. 42-6463), with nineteen men aboard, crashed into the side of Garnet Peak in the town of Peru, Massachusetts.  All but three men perished. 

     The only man aboard who was not injured in the crash was Sergeant Robert Lee, who managed to extricate four men from the flaming wreckage, all while suffering severe burns to himself in the process.  Two of those rescued by Sgt. Lee perished, but two others survived, thanks to his bravery.  The men besides Sgt. Lee who survived were Private James Fern, and Private Alonzo L. Pearson. 

     Those who perished in the crash were identified as:

     Pilot:  2nd Lt. Joseph J. Fields, of Atlanta, Georgia.

     Co-Pilot: Staff Sergeant Charles M. Scott, of York, Pennsylvania.

     Engineer: Staff Sergeant Robert W. Lamon, (23), of Shawnee, Oklahoma.

      Pfc. Hyman B. Flinkman of Baltimore, Maryland.

      S/Sgt. Samuel B. Hathorn, of Princess, Mississippi.

     Sgt. John H. Kelly, of Titus, Alabama.

     Cpl. Frank A. Lastosky, of Sykesville, Pennsylvania. 

     T-5 Joseph C. Neurohr, of Brooklyn, New York.

     Pvt. Jack E. Palmer, of Antigo, Wisconsin. 

     1st Lt. Gardner V. E. Plain, of Ransomville, New York.

     Pfc. Stanley E. Racine, of Pensacola, Florida.

     Pfc. Norman Sands, of Chicago. 

     Pvt. Steven E. Schollin, of Oak Haven, Illinois

     Pvt. James F. Thompson, of Los Angeles.

     Cpl. Austin E. Weeces, of Craig, Nebraska.  

     Pfc. James D. Westbrooks, of Andrson, South Carolina.

     Today there is a monument honoring these men on Garnet Peak in Peru.


     PDF Document “Garnet Peak Plane Crash”, by Joe Stergis, 2008

     The Berkshire Eagle, “Peru Residents Remember Paratroopers Lost In 1942 Plane Crash On Garnet Peak” by Patricia LeBoeuf, 2007. 

     New England Public Media, “Peru, Mass., To Mark 75th Anniversary Of Military Plane Crash”, by Adam Frenier, August 14, 2017.

     Book: “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006 

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