Douglas, MA – September 12, 1944

Douglas, Massachusetts – September 12, 1944 

Updated February 15, 2018


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

      At 1:50 p.m. on the afternoon of September, 12, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft took off from the naval auxiliary air field at Westerly, Rhode Island, for a high-altitude oxygen training flight.   One of those assigned to the flight was Ensign Arthur Joseph Stockus, 23, piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42800).

     When the planes had reached an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the flight leader lead the squadron in a northerly direction towards Massachusetts, all the while continuing to gain altitude.  The goal was to reach 30,000 feet.      

     At approximately 2:50 p.m. while the flight was at 28,000 feet, Ensign Stockus’s aircraft was seen to suddenly break away from formation, go into a slow roll, and then disappear into an alto cumulus cloud.  Efforts to contact him via radio were unsuccessful.

     Ensign Stockus was killed when his Hellcat crashed and exploded in a wooded area about two miles west of the center of Douglas, Massachusetts.    

     Navy investigators later speculated that his oxygen system had failed, which could lead to disorientation or unconsciousness.  

     Ensign Stockus was from Monessen, Penn., and had been assigned to CASU-27.  He entered the navy on October 15, 1942, at Washington, D.C.  He died just two days after his 23rd birthday.

     Ensign Stockus had a brother Robert who was also serving as a naval officer.

     To see a photo of Ensign Stockus’s grave, click here:


     U.S. Navy Investigation Report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-72   

     The Daily Republican, (Penn.), “Plane Crash Kills Monessen Ensign”, September 18, 1944

     Newport Mercury, (R.I.), “Dead Flyer Identified”, September 22, 1944, page 6.

     Copy – Application for World War II Compensation Form – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Douglas, MA – August 31, 1990

Douglas, Massachusetts – August 31, 1990

     At 2:30 p.m., a single-engine Piper Cub left Danielson Airport in Connecticut for a sight seeing trip over Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The flight went well until the plane developed engine trouble shortly after 4 p.m. while over Douglas, Mass.  The pilot attempted to make an emergency landing in a field, but clipped some tree tops and crashed near the Whitins Reservoir in an area known as Cottage Colony.    

     The plane suffered extensive damage, but the occupants, John Bouchard and Donald Hoeing were not injured. 

     Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Men Labeled ‘Lucky’ For Walking Away From Douglas Plane Crash”, September 1, 1990, Pg. 1


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