Colonial Beach, VA Military Plane Crash, June 1921



Tragedy and devotion of an outstanding order were blended in an airplane crash Thursday one mile out in the river, off Colonial Beach, Va., when LIEUT. WALTER VERNON BROWN, U.S.M.C., was killed and his mechanic, SERGEANT ALVIN R. BUGBEE, injured.
Though badly shaken up and bruised, BUGBEE summoning what little strength remained, was found by rescuers, who put off from shore in a rowboat, diving into the river in the hope of bringing his comrade and superior officer to safety. When he learned that the life of LIEUT. BROWN was extinct, BUGBEE sank into unconsciousness for more than three hours.
The two men in a DeHaveland, bearing marine corps number 3410, were on an air voyage with four other airships, traveling in formation from Quantico, with their objective the mouth of the Potomac, when the accident occurred.

Plunges In Tail Spin.
Starting out at 8 o'clock the aircraft encountered a light fog, which deepening as they flew along, caused the separation of LIEUT. BROWN'S airplane from the squad of fliers, who traveled to their goal safely, ignorant of the mischance which had befallen his machine. The plane plunged into shallow water, instantly killing LIEUT. BROWN, at about 8:30 a.m.
"When we struck the thick fog LIEUT. BROWN made a sharp turn and lost control," declared SERGEANT BUGBEE yesterday, after regaining consciousness. "The pilot then went into a tail spin, regaining control only to lose it again. He went into another tail spin and the machine crashed into the water. We were flying at an altitude of about 500 feet when the first tail spin was made."

Marine Corps Athlete.
BROWN was considered by many the best athlete in the marine corps. He was a member of the football elevens of Wisconsin and Washington State universities before entering military service in June 1917. He played quarterback on the Mare Island service team which gained the western championship that year. BROWN was credited with over half of the total season's scoring of the team. On the Pacific Coast he was regarded as the greatest quarter in or out of the service. He received his commission as second lieutenant in the flying corps at the marine flying field, Miami, Fla., on January 10, 1919. He was recognized as one of the ablest aviators in the service, and was a contestant in the Pulitzer Air Races at Garden City, Long Island, last November. He had been at Quantico since January, 1920.
An apartment was maintained by BROWN at the Roydon apartments, Sixteenth and 'R' Streets Northwest. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. C. N. Brown, of Boise, Idaho.
BUGBEE was reported yesterday to be doing well at the hospital at Dahlgren, Md., and his rapid recovery is expected unless internal injuries should be revealed. His home is Oneida, N.Y.

The Washington Herald Washington D.C. 1921-06-11