Friendly Corner, AZ Jet Fighter Trainer Crash, Aug 1968
JET CRASH INVESTIGATION OPENS.
TWO AIR FORCE OFFICERS DIE IN CRASH 12 MILES SOUTH OF FRIENDLY CORNER.
Friendly Corners -- An investigation was continuing today into the cause of an F4C jet fighter trainer crash south of here Friday which took the lives of two Air Force officers.
The two men have been identified as Capt. THOMAS DEWBERRY, 30, of Overland Park, Kan., an instructor pilot, and Capt. JOHN K. LARIMORE, 36, of Camden, Ind., an instructor-navigator.
A tight security, featuring armed soldiers who had been flown into the area by helicopter Friday afternoon, had been drawn on the crash, but it was explained today by Air Force officials at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson. They said it was routine action, to protect the plane's equipment from theft or vandalism. "We want to investigate all accidents as they happened," an officer said, explaining that it's difficult to accomplish this, when some of the parts are missing.
Soldiers kept the press and law enforcement agency officials at a distance, which included a reporter from the Eloy Enterprise and Pinal County sheriff's deputies.
Exact location of the crash has been defined as 12 miles south and five miles west of Friendly Corner in rugges mountain country. The crash happened about 12:50 p.m. Friday.
The jet apparently burst into flames during flight, then crashed burning intensely over a two-three acre area for about 20 minutes.
Apalonio Soto, 48, a farm laborer on the John O'Connell farm saw the flames and smoke from his house just north of the Santa Cruz River and immediately called the sheriff's office in Eloy to report the crash.
Deputy Joe Walker drove to Friendly Corner, picked up Soto and his 10-year-old son Louis and began the search.
Word had still not arrived from Air Force officials by 2:15 p.m. to confirm that a plane was down, so Walker had started his return to Friendly Corer, when a communique came via radio that the jet was down and presumed crashed.
Soto placed the location about eight miles south of the river, but later reports said the crash was further south, nearing the area about 15 to 20 miles west of Marana. As it developed, the plane had gone down just north of the Pima County line on the La Osa Ranch owned by Les Kinney and Bill Wallake.
The grass was still burning in a few scattered places when the Eloy reporter arrived, and the investigating team was busy charting the area and marking the location of each piece of the craft.
Casa Grande Dispatch Arizona 1968-08-19