Lawton, OK Helicopter Explosion And Crash, Mar 1960



Lawton, Okla., (UPI) -- Five men were killed in the explosion of an Army helicopter Sunday while returning from a flight taking three demolition exprets to Oklahoma City to investigate bombings at three homes.
Authorities did not know whether the million-dollar 15-passenger H-37 Sikorsky helicopter exploded before or after crashing five miles sort of its base at Fort Sill. Police doubted sabotage was involved.
The disaster occurred in wind and fog at 4:30 a.m. with wreckage scattered over a radius of 500 feet and a crater about 2 feet deep and 12 feet in diameter blasted in the ground.
It came only hours after bombs exploded at the home of three employes of the Oklahoma publishing company, who had returned recently from temporary jobs on the Porland Oregonian and Journal.
The employes work in the production department of the company that publishes the Daily Oklahoman and the Oklahoma City Times.
No one was injured in the three explosions, but considerable damage was caused, police said. Police guards were established outside the three homes. Other Oklahoma City workers who took temporary jobs in Portland also were given protection.
Authorities said bombs apparently had been planted in the basement of ALVIN WINN'S home, in BILL R. MARTIN'S garage and in MRS. WALTER SHERRY, JR.'S car parked beside her house.
Oklahoma City police officials asked the Army to send explosives experts. The helicopter was sent with Lt. C. B. GREENHILL, commander of the 61st Ordance Detachment at Fort Sill; Sgt. G. B. ELLIS and Specialist J. W. SWAIM.
The helicopter was on its way to Ft. Sill when it crashed.
"It sounded like an explosion, or several explosions," said J. O. BAILEY, who with his wife heard the crash. "When I looked out I saw a fire and I called into town. There wasn't anything we could do."
Four of the dead were identified as Chief W-O CARL W. AYERS, 32, Carrizo Springs, Tex., co-pilot; Sgt. RAYMOND D. PESTANA, 32, Honolulu, crew chief, and JOHN C. DOLLAHITE, JR., 27, Blanco, Tex., flight engineer. All were married.
In Oklahoma City, MRS. WINN said she was asleep in the living room of her home and her husband was at work when an explosion ripped the back of the house. It tore open the back portion of the basement and demolished her husband's bedroom.

Galveston Daily News Texas 1960-03-28


Ft. Sill helicopter crash, March 1960

I was the first Military Policeman to discover the location and arrive at the scene of this terrible incident. I recently purchased a photograph of the scene taken a few days later which brought back the memories of 56 years ago. My condolences to the families of those that perished.....

Raymond Pestana

Hello can you tell me more about what your seeking regarding Raymond Pestana I may have information regarding him and further photographs.
Thank you.I am his niece my Mother was his sister she passed on five years ago, we have never heard any of this? I am VERY surprised I thought I knew everything about Uncle Raymond?

Raymond Daniel Pestana with My Mom in Heaven Tonight

My name I Raynee Danielle (Eldefonso) Kremer

My Mother & Dad died almost 6 years ago, she died not exactly ever knowing what happened to my Uncle Raymond, her Brother, but I'm sure she is with him in Heaven tonight where things like that don't matter anymore.

Yet still for myself and I'm sure a few other's in my family who may not completely know how my uncles last moments ended, finding this article has brought me to a page I can finally close as I did a lot of searching over my lifetime for my Mother when she was here. Uunfortunately at the time I was doing my search not much was available and we always came up against a big brick wall the closest I ever got was to see a photo of the helecopter the military thought he may have been in at the time of his death.

So to whomever did this research God Bless you, I don't know if you realize what a gift you have given me personally, it's that personal gift of closure, a gift I tried so hard to find for my Mother when she was alive but could not, I have always felt some guilt over not being able to give her that last bit of information but I do know now that I guess in Heaven things like that arn't so important anymore, it's for we who are still alive that search for answers and we arn't always lucky enough to find them.

Thank you for giving me a gift today, I'll be sure to pass it along and hopefully other family members who don't have this information will also see that my Uncle truly was a hero as were all the men who lost their lives on that day.

Raynee D. Kremer
Thank you
in Christ,
Raynee Kremer
Psalm 23

P.S. My son "Jon Daniel Kremer" will be entering the military when he graduates and has asked many questions regarding his great Uncle as he's heard many stories of him going to battle in Korea and WWII. today my son said that after reading what happened to Uncle Raymond that he is very proud to carry his middle name. :)

Another victim

While the last paragraph of this article begins with "Four of the dead were identified as....", only 3 names are given. One casualty not listed was WELDON DWAIN AMASON, 20, Pineland, Tex. I do not know what his army rank was; he'd never married. Altho I was only 8 at the time, I had known Dwain and his entire family all my young life, and counted him a hero. He'd worked for my dad a brief time (possibly a summer job) at our family store. He had a distinctive way of kicking open the unair-conditioned store's screen door as he walked out with both arms full of groceries to deliver to local widows who didn't drive. I shall never forget the sight, and sound, of his mother clutching a framed photo of Dwain as we entered their house after rushing there with my parents as soon as we heard the sad news.


The crew chief of the Sikorsky helicopter was my grandfather Sgt. Raymond D. Pestana. My grandmother knew him from the time he served in Germany, but they never married and all contact was lost when he returned to the United States. If anyone has any information or most important, any pictures of Raymond, please contact me at mikethspoketh@yahoo.com. Thank you.