Savannah, GA B50 bomber crash, Dec 1949

Flaming B-50 Falls in Marsh, Killing All 11 Airmen Aboard

SAVANNAH, Ga., Dec. 23 (AP) - A flaming air force B-50 bomber crashed in a drcary [sic] river marsh last night, killing all 11 airmen aboard and scattering and burying bodies and wreckage in the muck.

The big bomber had just taken off from Chatham air force base here when it went down on the bank of the muddy Savannah river. The crash was only seven miles above the city, but it was so inaccessible it took rescue parties hours to reach it by boat.

The first persons to reach the scene were forced back by flaming gasoline, floating on the water. The flames were visible for miles.

Col. Frederic E. Glantsberg, commanding officer of Chatham field, identified the plane. He said it took off at 9:12 p.m. on a training flight to El Paso, Txeas [sic]. It crashed about five minutes later.

The plane has been in service at Chatham for a year. The B-50, an improved bersion of the B-29 superfortress, has a wingspread of 141 feet, is 99 feet long, and weighs 125,000 pounds. The air force describes it as a more powerful version of the B-29 which bombed Japan.

The crash site was less than two miles from U. S. highway 17, which crosses the river just above Savannah. But it could only be reached by small boats guided by boatmen who knew the river.

The crash was only a few miles from the spot where a chartered airliner crashed Jan. 7, 1948, killing 18 and injuring 18 Puerto Ricans on a flight from Newark, N. J., to their home.

The air force waited until dawn to send a large crash boat with a score or more men, armed with shovels and ropes, to try to remove the bodies. They had to transfer to small, flat-bottomed swamp boats to get to the wreckage.

The first salvage party to return from the dismal scene said four bodies were found, but they were entrapped in masses of marsh grass and underbrush.

Twenty machettes were ordered to whack a path for the rescue workers.

Capt. E. S. Harrison, public information officer, said the wreckage would cover a football field. Salvage workers sank up to their armpits in the mire.

The men aboard the plane were identified as:

Capt. George V. Scaringen, pilot, and aircraft commander, Columbia, S. C.
Capt. Andrew G. Walker, pilot, Norfolk, Va.
Lieut. Rogers Hornsby, Jr., 29, son of Rogers Hornsby of baseball fame.
First Lieut. Robert W. Beckman, bombardier, Birmingham, Ala.
Capt. Anthony C. Colandro, radar navigator, Baltimore, Md.
First Lieut. James W. Johnson, Jr., flight engineer, Wells, W. Va.
Tech. Sgt. Leonard B. Hughes, flight engineer, Denison, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Fred W. Cunningham, radio operator and gunner, New Orleans, La.
Staff Sgt. Manson L. Gregg, gunner, Meadow, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Garnell W. Myers, gunner, Franklin, Ind.
Staff Sgt. Billy C. Bristol, gunner, Tucson, Ariz.

The Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden, UT 23 Dec 1949