Charleston, SC plane crashes into houses, Aug 1955

9 Killed As Plane Slams Into Houses


CHARLESTON, S. C., Aug. 23 (AP) - A huge Air Force transport plane, crippled by engine trouble, crashed in flames into three small frame houses near the Charleston Air Force Base before dawn today, exploded and killed at least nine airmen and civilians.

Fire spread in every direction and lit the sky for miles. Heat held back would-be rescuers.

Five of the 11-member crew were trapped and died in the C119 Flying Boxcar which first hit a tree and broke into chunks of flaming wreckage.

Bodies of four of the 10 persons who lived in the three houses were identified. Rescue workers probed the charred remains of the building on the chance others had died.


The six surviving airmen and four civilians were hospitalized. None was believed hurt critically.

The plane burst into flame shortly after it and a sister ship took off on a routine night flight. A North Charleston fireman said he saw two flashes from the stricken C119 before it fell into the Liberty Park community some 10 miles from the center of Charleston about 2 a.m.

Dobbins Peyton, 31, who operates a restaurant in the area, said he fought the flames with a garden hose for 10 minutes before the first firemen arrived. He helped his parents and his 6-year-old sister to safety as the flames threatened to spread.

'My House'

Estelle Robinson, who works for Peyton, ran to the door of the restaurant as the plane sheared off treetops in its descent.

"My God," she cried, "it's my house."

Her husband, Charlie, was found dead inside.

The Air Force said the crew members killed were:

Capt. Robert L. McNeal, Windber, Pa., the pilot; 1st Lt. Francis L. McShane, North Charleston, S. C.; 2nd Lt. James John Maher, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Airman 3.C. Keith Halls, Smoot, Wyo.; and Airman 2.C. John W. Glahn, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The injured airmen were identified as 1st Lt. Robert B. McGovern, Lubbock, Tex.; M. Sgt. William Rich, Ashville [sic], N. C.; Airman 1.C. Thoas P. Corshalla, East Plymouth, Pa.; Airman 3.C. James C. Miller, Houston, Mo.; Airman 1.C. Lawrence G. Bradley, Buena Park, Calif.; and Airman 3.C. Bobby H. Bruce, Baxter, Tenn.

The Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, TX 24 Aug 1955


I had a relative that was

I had a relative that was also in the accident and I just went to the local library. A reference librarian directed me to an online database that the library has. The date of the accident is August 23, 1955 in The Charleston Evening Post newspaper with the image attached. Hope that this helps!

My brother James Clayton

My brother James Clayton Miller survived this C-119 Flying Box Car Crash with minor physical injuries. He died in 1958 in a C-123 crash on the way to a Thunderbird Air Show. I had a photo of a Box Car nose down,tail up from a crash,but can not find the photo. Does anyone have ideas how to search for the photo. I believe my brother was pushed or jumped from the tail and injured his ankle. Most likely happened in NC or SC in the mid 1950's.