North Reading, MA. – July 18, 1942

North Reading, Massachusetts – July 18, 1942


B-17G “Flying Fortress”
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1942, a B-17B “Flying Fortress”, (Ser. No. 39-8), left its base in Grander, Newfoundland, bound for Middletown, Pennsylvania, to have some equipment updated.  While passing over Massachusetts the aircraft encountered thick clouds and ground fog.  It was speculated that the while the pilot was letting down through the scud the aircraft developed “wing flutter” which caused one of the wings to break away.  The plane went down in a wooded area of North Reading and all aboard perished.       

     The crewmembers were identified as follows:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. Marion R. Klice

     Co-Pilot: 1st Lt. Donald H. Johnson

     Bombardier: 1st Lt. James N. Phillips, Jr., (24), buried in Jasper Cemetery, Jasper, Arkansas. 

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. Orville Drue Andrews, (22), buried in Pineview Cemetery, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

     Master Sergeant Archie R. Jester, Jr. (32), buried in Salem Cemetery, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

     Engineer: Staff Sergeant William E. Perkins, (21), buried in Evergreen Memorial Park, Portsmouth, Virginia.

     Radio Operator: Corporal Stephen Bilocur, (20), buried in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. 

     Staff Sergeant Robert J. Aulsbury, (23 or 24), buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Jennings, Missouri.

     PFC. Sidnney Samuel Koltun (24), buried in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis Missouri.  

     Corporal Charles H. Torrance

     There is a memorial to these men on the town green in North Reading. 


     North Reading Transcript, “Veterans Day Ceremony To Memorialize 1942 B-17 Bomber Crash”, November 2, 1995, page 13. 

     North Reading Times, “May Their Noble Deeds Live Forever”, November 16, 1995, page 1

     North Reading Transcript, “B-17 Bomber Crash Was 59 Years Ago This Week”, July 12, 2001, page 14.     

     North Reading Transcript, B-17 Bomber Crash In Town Happened 65 Years Ago Next Week”, July 12, 2007, page 6. 

    North Reading Historical Commission Blogspot.



Rentschler Field – May 3, 1944

Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut – May 3, 1944

Updated February 2, 2022.


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of May 3, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with a crew of eleven men aboard, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a night cross-country navigation training flight. 

      While over New York, the number three engine lost power so the pilot turned the plane back towards Westover.  Before long another engine lost power and the plane was rapidly loosing altitude, so the pilot decided to make an emergency landing at Rentschler Field.  Then it was discovered that there was a problem with the landing gear.  The nose wheel had to be cranked down manually, but it couldn’t be locked in place.      

     The plane landed on the main wheels with the nose kept high, but when the nose wheel touched down it collapsed and the front of the aircraft hit the ground and was crushed as the nose dug in, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. John W. Garrett, age 19, and injuring four members of the crew.  The other six escaped without injury.    

     Lt. Garrett is buried in Green Mountain Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. To see a photograph of Lt. Garrett click here:


     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed In East Hartford Crash”, May 4, 1944

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1954”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006.  

Ludlow, MA. – May 4, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – May 4, 1944


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with three crewmen aboard took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, the aircraft experienced complete engine failure in all four engines.  According to two civilian witnesses living on Burnett Road in the neighboring town of Ludlow, all four engines were silent as the aircraft passed over their home, and someone aboard fired a red distress flair from the aircraft.   Moments later the B-24 crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area, about 3/4 of a mile from Westover Field. The plane came down on land owned by the Chicopee Water Department in Ludlow just before the Chicopee town line.    

     All three crewmen perished in the accident. They were identified by the press as:

     Pilot: Captain Harold H. Melken, 26, of Watertown, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lieutenant William F. Davis, 21, of Baxter, West Virginia.

     Tec-Sgt. Harry Schultz, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Three Westover Men Die In Ludlow Plane Crash”, May 5, 1944

East Granby, CT – November 8, 1944

East Granby, Connecticut – November 8, 1944 

Updated December 16, 2017


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 8, 1944, a B-24J, (Ser. No.  42-51001), with twelve men aboard,  left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a scheduled combat crew training mission.  Once airborne, the plane headed south over Connecticut.  While over Connecticut, one of the engines began trailing smoke and before long flames became visible.  Despite efforts by the pilot, the aircraft continued to loose altitude, and it became apparent that an emergency landing was the only option.   The pilot aimed for an open area of pastureland located off Route 9 in East Granby, on what was then known as the Seymour Farm.   As the plane passed over the highway it clipped a telephone pole sending it out of control into a marshy section of the pasture where the wings and fuselage broke apart before coming to rest.  There was no fire, but one injured crewman was trapped in the crumpled wreckage and it was several hours before he could be extricated.   

     Of the twelve crewmen aboard, five were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

      Cpl. Gaetano L. Fastiggi, a top-turret-gunner from New Rochelle, N.Y., born September 23, 1925.  He enlisted in the army on April 5, 1944.  He’s buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in New Rochelle.    

      Cpl. Henry Colt Fay Jr., a gunner from Milburn, N.J., born September 12, 1923.  He’s buried in the Winsted Old Burying Ground, in Winsted, Connecticut.    

      Cpl. Charles W. Powell, a gunner from Holdenville, OK., born September 7, 1920.  He’s buried in Holdenville Cemetery.

      Cpl. Furman Watson, a gunner from Seneca, S.C., born June 22, 1923.  He’s buried in New Hope Cemetery in Seneca.

      Pfc. Lester L. Shoemaker, a tail-gunner from Hanover, PA., born September 18, 1918.  He’s buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Hanover.  

     Those who were seriously injured included:

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. Roland C. Curtiss.

     The co-pilot, Flight Officer Reese A. McClennahan, Jr.

     The bombardier, Flight Officer Vincent M. Vallaro.

     Gunner, Cpl. Francis A. Crawford.

     Gunner, Cpl. Cono A. Galliani.

     Gunnery Instructor, Staff Sgt. Charles J. Nigro. 

     The navigator parachuted safely away from the plane and received only minor injuries.  

     Today a housing development occupies the crash site. 


     The Hartford Courant, “Five Flyers Killed, Seven Injured As Bomber Crashes In East Granby”, November 9, 1944, page 1.

     The Waterbury Democrat, “Plane Crash Kills 5 Men”, November 9, 1944, page 9.

     New York Times, “Bomber Crash Kills 5”, November 9, 1944

     Town of East Granby Death Records

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Cpl. Gaetano Fastiggi Killed With 4 Others In Bomber Crash”, November 9, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi’s Body Is Escorted Here”, November 11, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi Rites Attended By 300”, November 13, 1944.




Camel’s Hump Mt. – October 16, 1944

Camel’s Hump Mountain, Vermont- October 16, 1944

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On October 16, 1944, a U. S. Army B-24J Liberator (#42-51067) crashed into Camel’s Hump Mountain killing all but one crewman aboard.  The sole survivor was Aerial Gunner James W. Wilson who was found by members of the Civil Air Patrol a short distance from the wreck.  Investigators found the wreckage near the top of the 4,083 mountain, covering more than an acre of land.   

     Other members of the crew included:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. David E. Potter, age 30.  To see a photo of Lt. Potter, click here:

     Co-pilot: Flight Officer John J. Ramasocky, age 23. 

     F.O. Ramasocky’s brother was killed in a military plane crash on August 12, 1947. Click here for info. 

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. Robert W. Geoffrey, age 22.To see a photo of Lt. Geoffrey, click here:

     Bombardier: 1st Lt. David C. McNary, age 25.  To see a photo of Lt. McNary click here:  

     Engineer: Corporal Luther N. Hagler, age 21. To see a photo of Cpl. Hagler, click here:

     Radio Operator: Corporal James Perry, age 19.  To see a photo of Cpl. Perry’s grave, click here:

     Ball Turret Gunner: Corporal Robert E. Denton, age 22 or 23.  To see a photo of his grave click here: 

     Tail Gunner: PFC Richard C. Wynne, age 18.  To see a photo of PFC Wynne’s grave, click here:

     Nose Gunner: PFC Casper Zacher, age 19.  To see a photo of PFC Zacher’s grave, click here:

     A memorial plaque and a wing section of the aircraft can be found at the crash site.


     Woonsocket Call, “Single Member Of Crashed Bomber’s Crew Found Alive Near Vermont Mountain Debris”, October 18, 1944, pg. 1

     Aircraft Info supplied by Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

     New York Times, “Bomber Wreck Found On Vermont Mountain”, October 18, 1944

     Unknown Newspaper, “Wreckage Of Missing Westover Plane Found”, October 18, 1944


Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

B-24 Liberator U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 12, 1943, a B-24 Liberator (42-7225) took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a nighttime high altitude navigational and gunnery training flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  The aircraft was never seen again.

     The air crew was assigned to the 758th Bombardment Squadron, 459th Bomb Group.  

     The lost crewmen were listed as follows:

     (Pilot) Lt. William P. Masters 

     (Co-Pilot) Lt. Robert R. Hansen  To see an obit and photo of Lt. Hansen’ s grave, click here:

     (Gunner) Sgt. Cecil H. Conklin

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anthony L. Greco

     (Gunner) Sgt. Dean G. McCaffrey

     (Radio Operator) Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman

     (Flight Engineer) Sgt. Stanley E. Zajac

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

   A memorial to these men can be seen at the New England Air Museum in Winsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Click on image to enlarge.

     Source: 459th bombardment Group website

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