North Atlantic – July 3, 1941

North Atlantic – July 3, 1941 

     On July 3, 1941, a U. S. Navy PBY-5 Catalina (Bu. No. 2347), with seven crewmen aboard took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island bound for Iceland.  The aircraft was assigned to VP-72, which was being transferred from Quonset to provide cover for U. S. Marine Corps occupation forces stationed in Iceland.

     The flight was to be instrument flight rules due to zero visibility with cumulus clouds extending to about 18,000 feet.  The plane never arrived at its destination, and what happened to it is unknown.  Navy investigators theorized that an onboard fire may have occurred due to a leak in the temporary hull tank installation, or that the aircraft entered a spin while flying on instruments and never recovered.  The official cause of the accident is listed as “Unknown”.

     The missing crewmen were identified as follows:

     Pilot: Ensign Robert C. McKown of Atlanta, Georgia. 

     Co-Pilot: Ensign Joseph C. Haskel of Charleston, South Carolina

     AMM1c Wyman Richard Van Liere, (28), of Liberty, Arizona.  The Navy report lists the last name only as “Liere”, but newspaper accounts state the last name is Van Liere. 

     AMM1c Linton Melmus England, (32), of Long Beach, California.

     AMM3c Anthony Henry Gazafy, (28), of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  His birthday was the same day the plane disappeared.  He was 28. 

     RM1c Claude Andrew Ashley, (34), of Garden City, Kansas. 

     RM3c Lyn Elliott Dunlap, (20), of Mountain, Wisconsin.  

     Despite a search which lasted for more than two weeks no trace of the missing aircraft was ever found.  


     U. S. Navy accident report #3043 dated July 3, 1941

     Wilmington Morning Star, “Patrol Plane Lost At Sea”, July 8, 1941, pg. 10.

     Evening Star,(Wash. D.C.), “Navy Abandons Search For Plane Carrying 7” July 24, 1941, page B-2.  

     The Mercury, (Pottstown, PA.), “U.S. Navy Plane Reported Missing With Seven Men On Atlantic Patrol”, July 8, 1941 



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