East Boston Airport – December 22, 1937

East Boston Airport – December 22, 1937

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1937, the Army Air Corps detachment stationed at East Boston Airport was giving a Christmas party for children of the servicemen.  Part of the celebration was to include Santa Clause arriving by parachute from an airplane.  

     Dressed in a Santa suit was Corporal Harold Kraner, 35, of Winthrop, Massachusetts, who boarded an airplane piloted by Captain Richard E. Cobb, the commanding officer of the detachment.   The plane took off and began circling the airport at 1,500 feet as roughly 100 children gathered on the tarmac to await Santa’s arrival.   At the designated time, Kraner stepped outside the aircraft and jumped.  The parachute opened, however a strong wind blowing at 40 miles-per-hour carried Kraner out over Boston Harbor where he landed in the icy water and drowned. 

     Captain Cobb landed immediately, and after obtaining a life preserver, took to the air again and dropped it in the spot where he saw the parachute in the water.

     “I don’t know whether he got it,” he later told the press, “but he seemed to be above the water then.”

     Meanwhile calls for help went out to Boston police and military bases in the area.  A Boston police car racing to the waters edge with under-water searchlights collided with an army plane which had just landed and was taxiing to a stop.  The accident seriously injured Boston Police Sergeant Edward J. Seiboldt, and to a lesser extent, Patrolman John Clorin, both of whom were taken to Boston Relief Hospital. 

     Darkness was falling, and about the same time as the police car – airplane accident occurred, a small boat with two army men inside capsized spilling both into the water.  Both men, Richard Miller and Earl Jordan were rescued by a nearby Coast Guard boat and treated for hypothermia.

     Kraner’s body was recovered on the 24th in about 15 feet of water, with the parachute cords wrapped around his neck.  He was survived by his wife and child, both of whom had witnessed his jump.   


     New York Times, “Flying Santa Lost In Boston Harbor”, December 23, 1937  

     New York Times, “Kraner’s Body Is Found”, December 25, 1937  

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