Rome, NY Bomber Crash, Jan 1952




Rome -- Investigation of yesterday's B-17 plane crash at Mohawk Acres at the northeastern edge of the city is being carried on today by an investigation board composed of officers from Griffiss Air Force Base.
They visited the scene yesterday afternoon and the investigation was being continued today. At the time of the crash it was raining and freezing and it was thought possible ice on the wings might have caused the plane to lose altitude. Witnesses said that just before the plane crashed all four propellers were revolving.
Two Air Force men from Griffiss base were killed and five others injured shortly before noon yesterday when a B-17 plane crashed.
The dead as identified by the public information office at the base were First Lt. WAYNE AS. SCHOBERT, 31, of Owensville, O., who lived at 104 Ringdahl St., less than one block from the scene of the crash; and radioman Sgt. JACK B. NICHOLS, 20, of Overton, Tex., who lived at Wright Park, also a short distance from the scene. SCHOBERT was said to have been the pilot of the ship.
Injured critically and in Griffiss base hospital is Second Lt. JOHN W. MUDLE, 25, of Sherman Oaks, Cal., navigator.
Also seriously injured and at the base hospital were radarman Sgt. NORMAN B. VINCENT, of Jamaica; engineer S/Sgt. DANIEL WACHSMAN, 29, of Schenectady.
Less seriously injured were instructor pilot Capt. HENRY L. VAN FLEET, 31, of 701 Oakwood St., and M/Sgt. ORRIN F. VALENTINE, 29, of Rochester, living at Air City.
At Griffiss Air Force Base Hospital, the injuries and condition of the five airmen were released by the public information office as follows:
Lt. MUDLE, a facial fracture and fracture of the skull.
Sgt. VINCENT, possible fracture of the back. His condition was described as good.
Sgt. WACHSMAN, fractured leg.
Capt. VAN FLEET, moderately severe burns about the face, hands and feet.
Sgt. VALENTINE, fractured right hand.
The plane according to witnesses barely missed the roof of the Rome City Hospital and the Goetz gas station in Black River Blvd. It also narrowly missed Rose Garden apartment buildings in which the pilot and his wife lived. It sheared off the top of a tree east of Black River Blvd., narrowly missed the home of Albert T. Walrath of Mohawk Acres, flew under high tension wires and crashed.
The plane crashed a short distance from the Walrath home and less than 600 yards from the east-west runway at Griffiss base. It fell into a tract of young evergreens planted by Ivar Ringdahl owner of the Mohawk Acres nursery, and burst into flames.
Joseph Coffey of 309 Elm St. was driving his car in Riverview Pkwy. at the time. He was the first to reach the scene. He said two of the crew were outside the burning plane suffering from shock. He entered and carried out one of the men and was joined by another person he did not know who helped him carry the two others out.
Mrs. Walrath was in her home at the time of the crash. A registered nurse, Mrs. Walrath together with Mrs. Eskil Ringdahl, daughter-in-law of the owner of the Mohawk Acres, aided the first two men out into the Walrath home and put them to bed. There they were kept until ambulances and doctors arrived from the base hospital.
Doctors and six ambulances soon arrived with all fire apparatus from the base under the direction of Fire Chief Allen Evans.
Ambulances of Martin J. Nunn and Howard P. Teller responded. Rome Fire Department in charge of Fire Chief William M. Campbell sent three pieces of apparatus. The dense clouds of smoke blanketed the northern section for some time.
John O. Edwards, foreman at Mohawk Acres, also among the first to arrive, said he saw Capt. VAN FLEET walking around the plane and the captain was saying, "My last effort was to miss any houses."
Walrath at work in another section of Mohawk Acres saw the plane crash and explode and the dense clouds of smoke led him to believe it had crashed into his home.
Rome police together with civilian police from the Air Base handled the large crowds and traffic.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1952-01-18


B-17 Crash, Rome NY. 17 January 2014

My name was spelled wrong. It should be MUDIE, not MUDLE.
Three civilians pulled me from the burning fuselage and saved me from burning to death, but I was taken in an ambulance to the Griffiss AFB hospital and almost expired from chest injuries.
The best report of the accident was in the Jan 18 Rome Sentinel. The heroism of the three civilians that immediately went into the burning crash area is under-reported., Joe Coffey was joined by Jim Box and John McNeal. Jim is the only one still alive.