Camp Pinedale, CA Army Bomber Crash, May 1945


Six army airmen, including a Fresnan, were killed instantly yesterday afternoon when the twin engined medium bomber in which they were flying crashed and burned about two miles north of Camp Pinedale on the Yosemite Highway.
The Fresnan was Corporal PAUL H. BROWN, 25, a son of Sam Lee Brown of Orange, Tex. He had lived with Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Beverly H. Jones, 5707 Wilson Avenue, for the last six years, and attended the Fresno High School and the Fresno State College, where he played football before he entered the service three years ago.
The fatal accident was the most serious in the recent history of Hammer Field, and the first crash involving more than one or two fliers since a B24 fell into Huntington Lake in 1943, killing six men.
Eye witnesses to the crash, including a rancher living nearby who reported to Hammer Field authorities the plane was in trouble when it passed over his home at treetop level, said the ship was having engine trouble before it struck the ground. The terrain in the area is rolling, and small knolls rise several feet above the highway.
The pilot of the ill-fated ship was Second Lieutenant ARTHUR C. MIDDLETON, 29, a son of Mrs. Mary K. Chambers, 5000 East Broadway, Long Beach.
The copilot was Second Lieutenant BERNARD PRIZER, 27, whose home before he entered the service was at 3421 East 135th Street, Cleveland, O. He resided with his wife, Mrs. Margaret Jane Prizer, at 944 F. Street. Mrs. Prizer was taken to the Hammer Field Base Hospital, suffering from shock, after she was told of the crash which killed her husband.
The other four men aboard the plane were:
Sergeant JOSEPH J. HIZNY, 23, whose wife, Mrs.
Anna Mae Hizny, resides at 1717 River Road, Pittston, Pa.
Sergeant JOHN B. SZUES, 29, a son of Mrs. Mary Szues, RFD (no number), Machias, N.Y.
Corporal PAUL F. REDHEAD, 29, a son of Mrs. Colista Redhead, 11815 Chesterfield Avenue, Cleveland, O.
BROWN is survived by three brothers, Johg G., a veteran of the marines, and Sammy B., both of whom live in Stillwater, Okla., and Frank, who has been a prisoner of the Japanese since Manila fell early in the war, and three sisters, Mrs. Glen Smith, Miss Helen B. Brown and Miss Lillian Brown, all of Valliant, Okla.
He had been stationed at Hammer Field for the last year as an aviation mechanic.
Shortly after the plane took off from Hammer Field,
its crew radioed the control tower at the army base the ship was in trouble and was planning to try for a crash landing.
The radio report was the last word from the ship, and moments later army personnel at Hammer Field, about seven miles from the scene of the crash, saw smoke rising after the plane had struck the ground.
Competitors in the California State Open Gold Tournament pro-amateur division, playing on the Fort Washington Golf Course about three miles away, heard the explosion which followed the plane's crash.
Hammer Field authorities said the plane was on a routine combat training flight when the fatal crash occurred. A board of army officers has been appointed to investigate the accident.
Fire crews from both Camp Pinedale and Hammer Field rushed to the scene of the crash after the report was received of the plane's difficulties, but were too late to attempt any rescue work.

The Fresno Bee Republican California 1945-05-05