LaGrange, GA Army Plane Crashes, Nov 1938
7 ARMY FLIERS KILLED IN PLANE PLUNGE INTO GEORGIA FOREST.
EIGHTH GRAVELY INJURED IN ONE OF WORST U.S. MILITARY DISASTERS.
SHIP HIT 'BUMPY AIR'
BURSTS INTO FLAMES IN GEORGIA WOODS AFTER MOWING DOWN TREES.
LaGrange, Ga., Nov. 19 (AP) -- Tossed by a battering rainstorm, a big Army bomber smashed up in a west Georgia forest last night killing seven fliers in one of the worst tragedies in the history of military aviation. An eighth was gravely injured.
The ship, a new two-motored, mid-wing Douglas, was on a routine flight from Mitchel Field to Maxwell Field, Ala. So isolated was the spot where it crashed the news did not reach the outside world until today.
Maj. W. A. MAXWELL, Maxwell Field operations manager who hurried here to investigate, said from what he was able to piece together from a crew member conscious until his death in a LaGrange hospital, "bad weather was the only apparent explanation."
The crew member was Private JOSEPH J. NANARTOWICH.
"We were flying low to get under the ceiling," Major MAXWELL, said the soldier related. "It was raining. Suddenly we hit a rough spot (apparently a downward air current) and bounced. Next thing I knew the plane was ploughing through the trees. No mechanical defects so far as I could tell."
Brought to the hospital also by a rescue crew that slithered over muddy roads and up a wooded slope to reach the plane was Second Lieut. JOHN D. MADRE. He was still alive tonight but unconscious.
The plane, the investigators said, apparently was going about 200 miles an hour when it rammed the forest seven miles northeast of here. It cut a path 150 yards long through trees, some of them as big around as a man's body.
Four bodies were found within a few yards of the smoking debris, three others in the wreckage. One apparently had made a futile attempt to use his parachute. It trailed open beside him.
One of the plane's two motors was catapulted out of the woods where the crash occurred into a bordering cornfield.
On a stretcher, bodies of the victims were carried to a country lane that led two miles to a highway. They were transported over a muddy road in an old farm truck which the rescue crew had to push over some of the worst spots.
Major MAXWELL said NANARTOWICH told him there were seven aboard the ship when it crashed, although her clearance papers showed eight aboard. On this information he ordered the search for the eighth stopped at one time today. After a check showed none had left the plane, however, he later ordered it resumed. Just before nightfall the last body was found, a charred mass, under the wreckage.
The bodies were so torn and charred only tow of the dead besides NANARTOWICH were immediately identified. They were Second Lieutenant ROBERT ROSS McKECHNIE of the Air Reserve, son of MRS. ELIZABETH McKECHNIE of Cleveland, O. and First Lieutenant JAMES W. STEWART of the Army Medical Corps, son of MRS. A. L. STEWART of East Orange, N. J., assigned to Randolph Field, Tex., and en route home.
Maxwell Field officers announced the names of the others and their nearest of kin and home towns as follows: Second Lieutenant ROBERT KIRKLAND BLACK, mother, MRS. R. BLACK of Meridian, Ga.; Second Lieutenant ALLEN M. HOWERY, son of LEWIS B. HOWERY of Russellville, Tenn.; Sergeant HARRY T. JONES of Hempstead, L. I., and Corporal GALLOWAY, assigned to third weather squadron at Dallas. Initials were not available but a Corporal JERRY E. GALLOWAY was reported on furlough from the squadron. The latter is the son of J. C. GALLOWAY of Sulphur Springs, Tex.
NANARTOWICH is the son of MRS. URSULA NANARTOWICH of Highland Falls, and MADRE the son of MRS. FRANK H. RAYHORN of Memphis, Tenn.
Syracuse Herald New York 1938-11-20