Author Topic: B17 crash, Breaking news tragedy. Our local Vintage MC visited this plane.  (Read 96 times)

Online Sluggo

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Breaking news, I just got the word via a Military forum I am on, Several veterans I know are in the area and posting updates as they develop.  See: https://www.rallypoint.com/answers/has-anyone-seen-any-more-information-about-the-wwii-bomber-that-crashed-at-bradley-hartford-springfield-today?urlhash=5084410

ANC news is covering it,, https://abcnews.go.com/amp/US/world-war-ii-plane-crashes-connecticut-airport/story?id=66004045&__twitter_impression=true

Sad news indeed.   I have toured this plane several times over the years and it travels around the US educating folks about history.  I used to have a shop customer who is German and he had some amazing insights as well. I went with him back in early 2000s to see this plane at the Troutdale airport and when the crew asked "Hey Buddy, have you ever seen one of these before?"  Werner answered "Jah!"  Asked oh really where at?  Werner shocked everyone "Over my house 1943"  The truth was one crashed near his house and they had to drag the bodies out of the wreckage and help bury them.

So last year our local clubs,, OVM-Oregon vintage MC & ONE-Oregon Norton Enthusiasts were invited to display bikes on the tarmac with the planes, I didnt go as I had seen them before and had other things going on.  I regret not attending.  One of our guys in the club, Mike (A Yorkie) loves to video stuff and has an active channel on youtube.  (If you fancy Nortons, Vinnies and such).  So Mike filmed 2 clips featuring these amazing planes and went up on a flight in the ill fated machine.  Sadly, this is so sad to think this plane is now gone, and likely the crew seen here is also likely RIP.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGBBX9O3dTk  (Ride to the airport and some of the planes)
See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp_CLwGmGFI  (Intro and history of the plane, and actual ride over scenic Oregon inside the B17)

So why do I care so much about B17s?   Well I served in the USAF and kind of a family tradition. My Grandfather enlisted in the US Army Air Corp in 1918.  He graduated flight school at Berkeley Calif Military academy (YES! That bastion of liberalism, was a military training facility) And I still have his pilots wings and his graduation certificate!  Grandpa Phil made it to France and flew 1 orientation flight and 1 mission and next day the war ended.  He felt is major accomplishment was living thru the influenza epidemic as that killed more US service members than armed combat in WW1 (Packed troop ships sailing for Europe??)

So my Dad Enlisted in 1943, My Uncle in 1942 US Army but my Dad went Army Air Corp,  He was assigned Gunnery school and was slotted into Belly gunner-Ball Turret in the B17s and he as small enough to fit.  The mortality rates for crew members was very high, especially for that job.  He washed out due to bad eye sight which is a important skill set in operating dual .50 cal machine guns.  He was reassigned as a Radio operator and Navigator and sent to Indo-China theatre and flew into China supporting the Chinese Nationalists against the Japanese.  This was on C46 acft and a few C47s. Also known as the Aluminum Highway over the Burma hump, Exceedingly dangerous as well.  But it gave me an odd feeling to tour such an acft and look at what a cramped little compartment those were on the B17 and how terrifying it must have been to be trapped in those little globes over Germany with flak and machine gun fire.  (Hydraulics failure you are screwed!) .

So,, sad news and a tremendous loss. Condolences to all impacted.
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Online Black Sheep

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Thanks for the insight Sluggo. A dreadful loss, felt keenly as an ex aviator with a son still flying with the military. My Dad was on the ground in Burma looking up at the C47s and hoping the supply parachutes would land with him and not the Japanese. 
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Online Sluggo

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My Dad waited till much later in life to start a family so most people my age, their parents were much younger.  After the war, Dad took advantage of the GI Bill, went to college, Then law school,, So, many wonder how I had a father in WW2 with my age (50s).  I still have my Dads Airmans wings as well and some of his googles and the box with different lenses, Sadly some of his uniforms rotted and got moldy in a storage trunk so those were lost.

Dad flew out of what is now Pakistan and parts of India.  I dont know how many times they dropped supplies by parachute, but most of what he flew was into China and rough air strips supplying Chang Kai Shek's nationalists.  Dad said though,, life was cheap and he had many regrets. One was in order to save them selves they had to push out their cargo which included drums of fuel, He said he knew some of it landed on a village and certainly killed many innocents.   I asked if he ever saw any Japanese, and truth was, He hated racism and was very strict about it, However he hated Japanese people and never really got over that.  But he said only one time.. Another crew crashed and he ended up on a search party on the ground hiking in the mountains looking for them.  At one point across the valley a Japanese patrol was there. They could see them but pointless to shoot or do anything so far away. (He carried a .45 and not very accurate)

He did do some sight seeing and visited the Taj Mahal.  He said he was embarrassed as some A**hole American GI had done graffitti in the bathrooms there and wrote "Kilroy was here" which was common US graffitti in that time. Imagine!  Even the bathroom but graffitti in the Taj Mahal? What the hell!

Dad as a Corporal, 43 or 44.  Dog tags, my Uncle, Grandfather and my Dad, Airmans wings and uniform Epaulets and Grandfathers Pilots certificate 1918   

Also one of my unit hats,, that was a prized possession to earn. 366 TFW, I as also in others in Europe, mostly 39th CAMS Incirlik AB Turkey but we did fwd ops so was in many hybrid units that formed and dissolved for each mission.  (We would meld with other NATO units and USAFE/TUSLOG units so I lost track of each one,some lasted 6 weeks)
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Offline Topdad

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Ditto Black sheep, my father in law was out there to ,loved those planes ,particularly the one that airlifted him out as a casuality after imphal /kohima . How the hell he got out in Burma is still a mystery to me as he had 4 Daughters in England but no wife !  I did find out that his younger brother had been KIA on the first chindit raid and he hated the japanese to his dying day .
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