Uniontown, AL Army Bomber Crash, Dec 1938


(Associated Press)
Uniontown, Ala., Dec. 24. -- Broken bits of bodies recovered over a 60-acre indicated Saturday seven, or possibly nine, men died Friday night in the explosion and crash of a two-motored army bomber two miles southeast of here.
Major Warren A. Maxwell, operations officer at Maxwell field, Montgomery, Ala., said a tramp over the area Saturday "convinced" him at least seven persons were killed.
Effects recovered indicated nine persons might have been killed, but reports from Hamilton Field, Calif., said only seven soldiers left there Thursday aboard the plane en route to Mitchell Field, N.Y.
An eighth member, army sources said, apparently boarded the plane at March Field, Calif., but alighted at some point before the big B-18 type plane plummeted down thru a rainstorm.
The terrific explosion shook many houses in the vicinity.
Hamilton Field, San Rafael, Calif., released the names of the following as those who left there with the ship en route to New York via Maxwell Field:
First Lieut. JAMES D. UNDERHILL, 28, pilot, Morgantown, N.C., whose pocketbook was found in the wreckage.
Second Lieut. JOHN W. POLLARD, Weaco, Calif., air corps reserves, co-pilot. Both he and UNDERHILL were unmarried.
Second Lieut. JOHN H. HYDLE, Thirtieth infantry, Presidio, Calif., whose checkbook was located in the debris. He was a passenger and his parents live in Willston, N.D.
Capt. FRED RUEBE, JR., Medical corps, Letterman hospital, San Francisco, unmarried, a passenger.
Private HUMBERT NARRO, 27, radio operator, Los Angeles.
Private BEN L. JONES, 34, Los Angeles.
SHELDON S. JOHNSON, 26, Northville, N.Y.

Mud Hinders Inquiry.
WARREN WUNDERLISH, service connection listed as "unknown" at Hamilton, was reported to have boarded the plane at March Field, and effects found in the scattered wreckage indicated a Captain REFBER also had died, altho some were of the opinion tis might have become entangled with Captain RUEBE'S name.
Knee deep mud hindered investigation and reclamation, and most of those who came because of curiosity went away horror struck. Even veteran newsmen and photographers turned away.
The plane took off Thursday on a navigation flight. It cleared Henley Field, Texas, and passed Barksdale Field, Shreveport, La., without landing only a short time before tragedy overtook it.
Frank Glese, Uniontown businessman, said clothes were blown from parts of bodies recovered and expressed the opinion "the plane exploded before it hit the ground, altho there is some uncertainty."
Blazes from the burning wreckage attracted crowds from miles around. A rainstorm drenched the flames.

Greeley Daily Tribune Colorado 1938-12-24


crash location

Hi Gale,
I'm an anchor/reporter with Alabama News Network. Did you ever find the location where the plane crashed?
Next year will be the 80th anniversary and I am planning ahead for a story.

my email: tlennox@waka.com
my work # 334-420-3323

Would like to hear from her as well.

I have ran into a full dead end to my relatives when my mom passed on in 2008. She was born there in 1945. Would love to know where her old house is. I have two deceased uncle's on the property. ????

Uniontown Plane Crash 1938

Michael, Did you ever talk to your grandmother about the crash. My uncle was on that plane and is one of the service men listed as dead. Our family is researching the loss. I live in Alabama and want to locate the crash site.


Any additional information regarding this would be helpful to my wife. Her mother was Sheldon Johnson's, one of the deceased, sister so would have been her uncle some nine years later. It's my understanding the family was never been provided any detailed information about the crash. They refere to the crash as having been in Birmingham. Sheldon is buried in Mayfield, NY, in a small family plot. I'm somewhat familiar familiar with the area so any more detailed information regarding the specific site would be most helpful.

1938 Plane crash in Uniontown

Did you ever tget to talk to your grandmother about plane crash ?

Don Cluck
Montgopmery, AL

Eyewitness account

My Grandmother will be 100 this Thanksgiving, she is still kicking, lives alone, cooks, and remembers all 100 years of her life. The Lord has been good to her. My Dad was telling me about her seeing a plane crash in Uniontown AL near her home in 1938 around Christmas. Apparently even though it has been 73 years since the crash she still has bad dreams over what she saw there. She found a dime that was ejected from one of the passenger's pockets and has kept it to this day. She also told my Dad about the Christmas presents that were aboard the plane and were scattered all around. This is about all I have so far, I am planning on sitting down and talking to her about it when I get home again.