Melrose, MA. – September 24, 1945

Melrose, Massachusetts – September 24, 1945

Updated February 4, 2022


B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

     On September 24, 1945, a twin-engine B-25J, (Ser. No. 43-36088), with six men aboard, took off from Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a training flight to Boston.  

    The airplane made it safely to Boston, and later took off to return to Manchester.  On the return trip, while approaching the area of Saugas, Massachusetts, the plane developed engine trouble, and before long one of the engines caught fire.  The pilot, Major Doak A. Weston, (30),  gave the order to bail out, and all five crewmen did so and landed safely.  Because the airplane was over a populated area, Major Weston opted to stay with the aircraft hoping to find a safe place to crash-land.  As the plane dropped lower he circled over the towns of Melrose, Malden, Saugus, and Wakefield.  Then he saw the Mount Hood Golf Course in Melrose and aimed for it.   

     The aircraft was now too low for Major Weston to bail out.  As the plane neared the ground witnesses reported seeing a flaming wing drop away.   The B-25 crashed and exploded at the 8th green of the gold course, killing Major Weston instantly.   A portion of the burning plane came through the wall of a nearby private home setting it on fire, but firemen were able to extinguish it before too much damage was done to the structure. 

     There were no injuries on the ground.   

     Major Weston’s actions no doubt saved the lives of people on the ground.   

     On September 24, 2010, sixty-five years after the crash, the Town of Melrose honored Major Weston’s sacrifice with a ceremony held at the site where his plane crashed, which included the unveiling of a small monument engraved with the crew’s names.  The ceremony was attended by Major Weston’s son, who was only three years old at the time of the incident.  

     Some sources state that Major Weston was from Denver, Colorado, and others state Aptos, California.  

     Major Weston had survived a previous aviation crash on February 23, 1943, when a B-25C, (Ser. No. 41-13289), he was piloting crashed into Lake Murray in South Carolina.  (He was a 1st Lieutenant at the time.) In that instance, He was flying low over the lake on a skip bombing training mission when the plane went into the lake and sank in 125 feet of water.  He was reportedly thrown clear of the aircraft as it cartwheeled across the water, and despite being seriously injured, was able to swim to shore.  Unfortunately the other five men aboard perished.   

     Those who perished were:   

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. Marshall S. Hawke, 26, of Muncie, Indiana.

     1st Lt. Clifford O. Sherry, 24, of Chicago.  

     2nd Lt. Harold L. Feineuer, of Bay City, Michigan. 

     2nd Lt. John E. Handcock, 27, of Carmel, Pennsylvania. 

     Sgt. George W. Rhine, 22, of Inglewood, California. 

     Deep water divers were sent to attempt to recover the bodies.  It is unknown if the aircraft was recovered, or allowed to remain where it was. 


     The Nashua Telegraph, “Grenier Field Plane Goes Up In Flames On Way To Saugus”, September 24, 1945.

     The Waterbury Democrat, “Army Checks Bomber Explosion”, September 25, 1945, page 9. 

     Imperial Valley Press, (California), “Five Army Fliers Die In Carolina”, February 24, 1943, page 5. 

     Detroit Evening News, “Bay City Flier killed In Crash Of Bomber”, February 24, 1943, page 4. 

     Detroit Evening News, “Bomber Hits Lake, 5 Killed”, February 25, 1943, page 12. 

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


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