Limestone, ME. – July 29, 1958

Limestone, Maine – July 29, 1958   

B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 28, 1958, a B-52D Stratofortress, (Ser. No. 55-0093), with nine men aboard, crashed about three miles south of Loring Air Force Base while on a training flight.  According to a newspaper account of the incident, the aircraft had approached the air base from the south for “a low level run across the base”.  After completing the run, it turned and made a second pass.  After the second pass the aircraft began to gain altitude.  This had been witnessed by the newspaper editor of the Fairfield Review, who later told investigators that as the plane was climbing he heard the sound of an explosion. 

     The plane came down in a field on Noyes Road in Limestone, about a quarter-mile from a grange hall.  One of those aboard, Major Moody E. Denton managed to escape the aircraft and parachute safely.  The other eight men aboard perished.   

     The men were identified as:

     Major Milo Claude Johnson, (36), of Leavenworth, Kansas.   He’s buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Kansas.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/3658094/milo-claude-johnson

     Major Kirkwood G. Myers, (35) of Roanoke, Va.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49263393/kirkwood-coulter-myers

     Lt. Lane L. Kittle, (24) of Oaklawn, Ill.

     1st Lt. Leonard M. Corsaro, (24), of Niagara Falls, N. Y.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49171027/leonard-michael-corsaro

     Sgt. Oran C. Reily, (32), of Corpus Christi, Texas. 

     1st Lt. Robert E. Testerman, (25) of Aubrey, Texas. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19006756/robert-e-testerman

     1st Lt. Leslie N. Martin, Jr. (27), of Montgomery, Alabama. 

     2nd Lt. James F. Thompson, (23), of Hardy, Maine.  He’s buried in Sunrise Cemetery in Wahoo, Nebraska. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49558721/james-everett-thompson

     Sources:

     Fort Fairfield Review, no headline, photo of air craft – July 30, 1958, page 1. 

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #48396

     www.findagrave.com

     www.ejection-history,org

     togetherweserved.com https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=PersonAircraftExt&ID=63603

 

Castle Hill, ME. – July 2, 1943

Castle Hill, Maine – July 2, 1943

 

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 2, 1943, a B-26C twin-engine bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-35181), with five men aboard, took off from Presque Isle Field bound for overseas duty.  Three miles from the airfield the starboard engine developed a problem and the pilot was forced to shut it down.  With only one engine, the pilot was unable to sufficiently  climb to maintain a safe altitude as the aircraft passed over increasingly rising terrain.  About six miles later the aircraft crashed into a wooded area and exploded killing three crewmen and seriously injuring two others. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Walter M. Cothran.  

     (Co-Pilot) 1st Lt. Walter H. Peoples, of Wilmington, Delaware. 

     (Flight Engineer) Corporal Albert L. Williams of New Mexico.  

     Sources:

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

     The Imperial Valley Press, (Calif.) “Three Army Fliers Killed In Wreck”, July 4, 1943, page 3. 

 

Loring Air Force Base – November 22, 1958

Loring Air Force Base – November 22, 1958

 

RB-47E Stratojet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 22, 1958, a U. S. Air Force B-47 Stratojet, (Ser. No. 51-2199), crashed and burned during takeoff from Loring Air Force Base, killing all four crewmen aboard.  The aircraft was assigned to the 321st Bomb Wing stationed at McCory AFB in Florida.  The aircraft and its crew had been at Loring for a few days as part of a training exercise.   

     As the B-47 appeared to be making a normal takeoff, but when it reached an altitude of about 40-50 feet it was seen to veer to the right and go down in a swamp area about 1,000 feet off the end of the runway and explode on impact. 

     The crew was identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Robert L. Shaffer, (37)

     (Co-Pilot) 1st Lt. Melvin H. Shira

     (Navigator) Captain Bernard McDermott, Jr. (34)

     (Crew Chief) T/Sgt. Samuel A. Harwell          

     Sources:

     Fort Fairfield Review, (Me.), “4 Died In This Loring B-47 Explosion Sat.”, November 25, 1958, page 1.  (Three photos with article.)

     Aviation Safety Network

Elephant Mountain, ME. – January 24, 1963

Elephant Mountain, Maine – January 24, 1963

 

B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On January 24, 1963, an Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber, (Ser, No. 53-0406), left Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for what was to be a low-altitude training flight over northern Maine to practice techniques in evading enemy radar.  Shortly before 3:00 p.m. the aircraft encountered turbulence during which the aircraft’s rear stabilizer suffered a structural failure which sent the plane into the side of Elephant Mountain in Piscataquis County.  Of the nine men aboard, two survived.

     The crewmen aboard were identified as follows:

     Crew Commander: Lieutenant Colonel Dante E. Bulli, (40), Survived.

     Lieutenant Colonel Joseph R. Simpson, Jr., (42).  He’s buried in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.  He was a veteran of WWII and Korea.   

     Major Robert J. Morrison, (36).  He’s buried in Maple grove Cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas. He was a veteran of WWII and Korea. To see a photo of him, see www.findagrave.com.

     Major Robert J. Hill, Jr., (37).  He’s buried in Osborne Memorial Cemetery in Joplin, Missouri.  To see a photo of him go to www.findagrave.com.

     Major William Walter Gabriel, (45).  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Major Herbert L. Hanson, (42).  He’s buried in Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota. 

     Captain Charles Gerson Leuchter, (32).  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Captain Gerald J. Adler – Survived.

     Technical Sergeant Michael Francis O’Keefe, (26).  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York.     

     The crash site where this accident occurred has been preserved and is regularly visited by hikers.  Photos of the site can be found elsewhere on the Internet. 

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “B-52 Missing In Maine; 9 Men Aboard”, January 25, 1963, page 1.

     Springfield Union, “2 rescued, 2 dead, 5 Still Missing On B52 Lost In Maine”, January 26, 1963, page 1.

     www.findagrave.com

     The Piscataquis Observer, “2 Survive, 7 Die In Bomber Crash At Elephant Mt.”, January 31, 1963, page 1

     The Piscataquis Observer, “B52 Ride Honors Crash”, January 28, 1998, page 11

 

 

Perham, Maine – Sept. 22, 1942

Perham, Maine – September 22, 1942

 

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, a flight of B-25 Mitchel bombers left Presque Isle Army Air Field bound for overseas duty.  Shortly after take off the planes were recalled to the base due to poor weather/visibility conditions.  One of the planes, (41-13049), crashed in a wooded area about six miles west of Perham Village, Maine, and exploded.  Local residents stated the blast was heard for miles around, and the site was marked by a large crater. 

      The tail section was discovered about a quarter of a mile away, which would seem to indicate a structural failure with the aircraft.   Two Nazi sympathizers were later arrested for tampering with an aircraft at Presque Isle leading to speculation that the B-25 had gone down due to sabotage.

     The B-25 was attached to the 310th Bomb Group, 379th Bomb Squadron, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.   

     All seven crew members were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Pilot: 2lt. John F. Watson  Entered service from New York, (O-790435) Burial location unknown. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149733656/john-f-watson

Co-Pilot: 2lt. John W. Rieves Jr. , 22.  He’s buried in Asbury Cemetery, McKenney, Virginia. For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #138056088. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138056088/john-william-rives

S/Sgt. John S. Delano  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49226891/john-s-delano

S/Sgt. James A. Kviz, 26. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149734166/james-anton-kviz

S/Sgt. Eugene J. Crozier He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49173051/eugene-joseph-crozier

S/Sgt. Frederick W. Rowbottom, 23.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia, Minnesota.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #123323580.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/123323580/frederick-w-rowbottom

S/Sgt. Richard K. Riddle, 27.  He’s buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  memorial#47394120. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47394120/richard-kellogg-riddle

     Later in the day another B-25 (41-13098) belonging to the 379th Bomb Squadron took off from Presque Isle also bound for overseas duty, but it crashed shortly after take off in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, Maine.  For more information, see Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942  under “Maine Military Aviation Accidents” on this website.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Plane Falls On Wooded Hill”, Sept 23, 1942

57th Bomb Wing Association website http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php 

www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942

Fort Fairfield, Maine – September 22, 1942

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, A flight of eight B-25 bomber aircraft were enroute to Gander, Newfoundland, when they stopped at Presque Isle Airfield to refuel.  After refueling, the aircraft assembled for take off to resume the flight.  While refueling, the weather had deteriorated and the aircraft would now be flying on IFR rules.  One of the B-25s, (Ser. No. 41-13098), piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph L. Drogula, was the second of the eight aircraft to take off.  Seven miles northeast of the airfield the left wing suddenly collapsed and the plane went down in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, off Fort Fairfield, Road.  All seven crewmen aboard were killed.  

     Civilian witnesses stated they saw the aircraft burst into flames while still in the air. 

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Ralph L. Drogula, 26.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Newspaper accounts list Lt. Drogula as a Second Lieutenant, but an internet photo of his grave indicates he was a First Lieutenant.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49175499/ralph-lee-drogula

     (C0-pilot) 2nd Lt. James O. Crokcer 

     S/Sgt. William H. Finch, 35. Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Fairview, Michigan. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118827837/william-h-finch

     S/Sgt. Billy John Hill, 22. Buried in Nocona Cemetery, Nocona, Texas. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63223944/billy-john-hill

     S/Sgt. George E. Simmons, 22.  Buried in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Du Bois, Penn. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/58284089/george-edgar-simmons

     S/Sgt. Lawrence A. Robinson, 26.  Buried in Pine grove cemetery, Marlborough, N.H. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22359063/lawrence-alfred-robinson

     S/Sgt. Joseph Martino https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149734573/joseph-martino

     There was another B-25C that left Presque Isle earlier in the day which crashed in the town of Perham, Maine, just a few miles north-west of Fort Fairfield.  (The tail number of that plane was 41-13049.)   In that crash, the tail section was reportedly found 1/4 mile from the wreck site possibly indicating a structural failure.  (See Perham. ME – September 22, 1942 under Maine Aviation Accidents on this website for more information.)  

      Both aircraft were part of the 379th Bomb Squadron, 310th Bomb Group, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.    

     Sources:

     New York Times, “14 Army Men Lost In Two Maine Crashes”

     57th Bomb Wing Association http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php

     www.findagrave.com

 

Near Springfield, ME – November 15, 1941

Near Springfield, Maine – November 15, 1941

     According to the Army Air Corps investigation report on this accident, the aircraft involved crashed about ten miles south of Springfield, Maine.  Other sources put the location closer to Lee, Maine.      

Douglas B-18 National Archives Photo

Douglas B-18
National Archives Photo

     At 4:45 p.m., on November 15, 1941, two Douglas B-18A bomber aircraft, left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, bound for Bangor Air Base in Maine.  The two planes were not cleared as one flight, but as two individual flights.

     The first B-18, (Ser. No. 37-521) was piloted by 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham, and the other by a pilot identified only as Lt. Offers.  The two men had agreed to stay in sight of each other during the trip, and had further agreed that in the event they had to fly above any overcast in the vicinity of Bangor that that Lt. Beckham would wait until Lt. Offers landed first.  This was due to the weather forecast for Bangor stating there was cloud cover over the area.

     At a point about half way between Concord and Augusta, both aircraft climbed to 5,500 feet to get above the 3,500 foot overcast.  When they reached Bangor shortly after 6:00 p.m., Lt. Offers made his descent first as per their agreement. The overcast ceiling at Bangor at this time was 1,400 feet, and dropping, and darkness was coming on.    

     At 6:32 p.m., after some garbled radio dialogue with the Bangor control tower due to interference with the radio signals from a Canadian source, Lt. Beckham advised he would try to make it to Portland, Maine, as his aircraft wasn’t equipped for instrument flying. 

     By 6:46 the overcast had dropped to 400 feet.

     At about 7:20 p.m. Lt. Beckham’s aircraft was seen approaching Springfield, Maine.  Ten minutes later it passed over the Carry Farm about ten miles south of Springfield, where three hunters later said it passed over their camp at a very low altitude heading southwest, and shortly afterwards they heard it crash. 

     According to the hunters, the weather in the area was very bad, with poor visibility due to fog and rain.    

     The plane had crashed in a remote and thickly wooded area surrounded by bog and swampland.  Investigators concluded that the left wing caught in the tree tops near the bottom of a hill, dragging the aircraft down and causing it to swing to the left for 10 to 15 yards before it began to cartwheel up the hill for 200 yards.  It was at this point the plane broke apart and caught fire.  Debris was scattered in all directions for 200 to 300 yards. 

     All four crewmen aboard the plane were killed.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham   

     (Co-Pilot) 2nd Lt. Wyman O. Thompson, 21.  He’s buried in Underwood Cemetery in Underwood, North Dakota.  To see photo of Lt. Thompson, and one of his gravesite, go to www.findagrave.com, and see Memorial #21814620.

     (Engineer) Corporal Jacob L. Parson, 30.  He’s buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Rogersville, Penn.

     (Radioman) Pfc. Lee E. Rothermel, 20.  He’s buried in Trinity Lutheran cemetery in Valley View, Penn.   

     One of the cockpit instruments that was recovered at the scene was the plane’s airspeed indicator, which was stuck at 195.

     The men were assigned to the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group.

     This crash is said to be the first fatal military aviation accident to occur in the State of Maine.  To see photos of the crash site as it appears today, see www.mewreckchasers.com.   

    Twenty-two days after this accident, the United States was drawn into World War II. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-11-15-6

     www.findagrave.com

    

       

Bangor Air Base, ME – December 30, 1941

Bangor Air Base, Maine – December 30, 1941

    

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 30, 1941, an A-29 bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23302) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  The seven man crew escaped, but the pilot and copilot were injured.   

     The crew were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. James J. Hayes

     (Copilot) 1st Lt. Jonathan H. Knox

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard A. Turner

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. James L. Wilson

     Pfc. Homer W. Read

     Pfc. George F. Nichols

     Pvt. Walter E. Taylor

     The men were assigned to the 65th Bomb Squadron (H)

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

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