Upper Marlboro, MD Naval Reservist Plane Crash, Jan 1967


Upper Marlboro, Md. (AP) - A Navy patrol plane crashed into a field near here Sunday, killing nine Navy reservists on a weekend training mission.
The SP2E Neptune patrol plane was manned by four officers and five enlisted men - eight of them from the Washington-Baltimore area. They were assigned to a unit at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington and had taken off from there a few minutes before the crash in light rain.
The crash scene was less than 15 miles from Washington.
One witness, Karen Knick, 11, said she "saw this big ball of fire in the air coming down. It crashed, and flames went all over the place."
Another witness, Kenneth Hooh, 50, said the pilot seemed to be trying to pull out of a dive.
Navy Cmdr. Jack McDonell, the crew's flight training officer, said destruction was so complete not even the plane's tail could be made out. "It must have been a fantastic explosion," he said.
Investigators worked in the wreckage trying to find evidence of what caused the crash. McDonell said the crew gave no indication of trouble.
The plane carried no bombs or armament, said officials.
The reservists, assigned to a unit at nearby Andrews AFB, had taken off from there a few minutes before the crash in light rain.
The plane had two conventional and two turbojet engines and could fly at up to 400 miles an hour. Planes of that type are used for long range submarine patrol.
The Navy identified the victims as:
Cmdr. CHARLES W. LURCOTT, 37, Alexandria, Va., the pilot.
Lt. Cmdr. FRANK E. WARNER, 44, Hyattsville, Md., the co-pilot.
Lt. SAYLOR L. LEVITZ, Bowie, Md.
Lt. WILLIAM CASPARI III, 31, Baltimore.
PO 1 C. JAMES F. VITAK, 36, Baltimore.
PO 2 C. ANDREW J. TODD, 35, Kearneysville, W. Va.
PO 3 FREDERICK F. VREELAND, JR., 26, Silver Spring, Md.
PO 3 C. S. A. WERTZ, 23, Pikesville, Md.
PO 3 C. GUY W. FETHERSTON, 35, Forest Knolls, Md.

The Daily Times Salisbury Maryland 1967-01-09


Navy plane crash 1/07/1967

The "Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NARTU)-Andrews Air Force Base . was the "Unit" named in the article. NARTU active duty aviation personnel trained Naval Air Reservists to learn or maintain their military occupation skills.
NARTU Andrews AFB was home to several types of squadrons and aircraft including: F-8 Crusader fighter jets in our VF squadrons, S2E Grumman Tracker anti sub aircraft from our VS Squadrons and the long range patrol bomber, the P2V or P2E Neptunes, flown and manned by the VP squadron folks. NARTU also had our own VR transport squadron that flew C-54s, 4 engine monsters that could carry huge loads long distances. NARTU's mission was to train pilots, aircrewmen, maintenance and support personnel for war, and we did, pushing aircraft and aircrews to their limits. The intensity and tempo of training, remember folks we were at war, led to many accidents and fatalities at most Naval Air Training Commands. Some commands had higher fatality/injury rates than some squadrons operating in the Fleet.
As far as i know the cause of the explosion, subsequent crash and level of destruction and was not discovered. Many NARTU personnel were dispatched and ordered to secure the wreck site that cold and rainy night and pickup the pieces of the aircraft as well as the pieces of their friends and Naval Air brothers. It was a sad day for NARTU sailors to be sure. The crash happened 51 years ago on January 7th. The memory of the events surrounding that tragedy are still very much alive in the hearts and minds of all those who served at NARTU, NAVAL AIR STATION, ANDREWS AFB on that terrible night 2 weeks after Christmas 1967. God Bless America's men and women in uniform. Go Navy!