Merriam, KS Bomber Crashes, July 1944

PLANE HITS HOUSE WHILE FLYING LOW;
3 KILLED, 3 HURT.

BOMBER BURNS AFTER CRASH AT MERRIAM, KAN. -- FIVE HOMES ARE CONSUMED BY FLAMES.

DEAD AND INJURED MEMBERS OF CREW.

PILOT APPARENTLY LOST CONTROL OF LIBERATOR AFTER ITS WING RIPPED OFF ROOF OF RESIDENCE.

Kansas City, July 26. -- (AP) -- Three crewmen were killed and three seriously injured early this afternoon when their Liberator bomber crashed and burned in a suburban residential section of Merriam, Kan., destroying five houses, a small confectionery and several outbuildings.
Residents of the neighborhood said the plane had been flying at roof-top level for several minutes before it collided with a house.
The dead included:
Second Lieutenant JAMES B. DAVIS, Oklahoma City, Okla.
The injured, all in a Kansas City hospital:
Second Lieutenant K. H. KEECH, Shawnee, Kan.
Second Lieutenant GUY L. McMACKIN, Tulsa, Okla.
Sergeant CHARLES E. EDWARDS, Route 1, Ionia, Mich.
The plane was on a routine combat training flight from its base at Lincoln, Neb., according to a statement by the public relations officer at Fairfax Field, Kansas City, and was expected to return to its base without landing.
No civilians were killed, but three were reported injured. They were A. I. LANG, 74; MRS. MARY A RICE, 73 and MRS. THOMAS GRAY. Their conditions were not considered serious. For a time it was thought two children had perished in one of the homes, but they were found safe at a neighbor's. Work by several fire companies was required to keep the intense flames from spreading to other residences of the neighborhood.
One of those thrown from the plane and still alive is Pilot KENNETH KEECH, whose wife, Mrs. Wilma Keech, lives with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. V. Skeens, in the vicinity.
Flying low over the Skeens house, the plane's wing ripped the roof off the residence of John Bernadell, who resides across the street from the Skeens house.
Apparently the plane then went out of control and sheared off a corner of the nearby residence of Herman Betchke. The ship then plowed through a power and telephone lines.
A series of explosions occurred at intervals after the plane struck the ground.
R. E. Stephenson said the bomber clipped off the top of an elm tree which he was preparing to top with a saw.
Robert German, 15, reported the plane picked up his bicycle which had been leaning against the Betchke home and carried it 100 feet before dropping it.
James Bolt, 34, railway employe, rescued a crewman blasted from the plane along with the metal seat in which he was strapped. Bolt and Everett Cates, 15, dragged the man from the blazing chair.

Joplin Globe Missouri 1944-07-27