Willows, CA Air Force Bomber Crashes, Oct 1954
11 AIR FORCE MEN DIE IN CALIFORNIA CRASH -- FOUR SURVIVE.
Willows, Calif., Oct. 7 -- (UP) --A four-engined B-50 reconnaissance plane crashed to earth in flames near here Wednesday night, killing at least 11 of the 17 crewmen aboard.
Four men were saved in the accident, which took plane on a rice ranch five miles southeast of Willows. Two men were missing.
An air force spokesman said the survivors were:
T. Sgt. NATIVIDAD VASQUEZ.
S. Sgt. JOSEPH E. WITTENS.
Airman 1/C JOHN B. PATTON.
Sgt. FRANK M. IMELY.
Three of them parachuted from the stricken plane moments before it hurtled to the ground. Another crawled from the wreckage. All four were taken to Glenn County General hospital in Willows.
The air force believed at first that there were 16 men on the plane, but later discovered that a total of 17 were aboard.
An air force spokesman in Sacramento, Calif., said the names of those aboard the plane probably would come from 5th Air Force headquarters at Fort Worth, Tex. However, the spokesman said the names would not be released until the bodies are identified. This process may take some time, he indicated, because some were badly burned and mangled in the crash.
The plane, on a routine weather reconnaissance mission from Briggs Air Force base at El Paso, Tex., crashed within 100 yards of the ranch home of Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Chittenden.
Mrs. Chittenden said she and her husband heard a roar that got "louder and louder."
"It wasn't a normal sound of a big plane, but more of a screaming noise as if it were in a spin ... We thought it was coming right at us and we turned and ran the other way as fast as we could."
Sections of the plane hit two grain storage bins, knocking them off their foundations and setting fire to one. By a miracle, 1,400 gallons of gasoline stored 150 feet from the point of impact did not catch fire.
There was a low overcast in the area and a light rain was falling at the time of the accident.
Record Eagle Traverse City Michigan 1954-10-07
B-50 CASUALTY LIST RELEASED.
El Paso, Tex., Oct. 7 -- (AP) -- Biggs Air Force officials made public today the names of the 14 dead and the four injured in the crash last night of a B-50 plane near Willows.
Maj. JOHN M. WIRT, Yuma, Ariz.
Capt. KEITH B. WRIGHT, Paducah, Ky.
Maj. PARK B. HERRICK, Fort Collins, Colo.
M/Sgt. CHARLES M. FORD, Dallas, Tex.
AIrman 2/C DANIEL A. BACA, Bolling, Tex.
M/Sgt. CLARENCE FOSTER, Cadillac, Mich.
AIrman 2/C EDDIE L. WYNNE, Plains, Miss.
M/Sgt. JUNIOR TOWNSEND, Speedwell, Va.
Capt. OTTO ROBINSON, Henderson, Ky.
1st Lt. JOHN T. VAUGHN, Naugatuck, Conn.
M/Sgt. HOWARD J. HANSEN, Des Moines, Ia.
Airman 2/C WILLIAM S. MYERS, Philadelphis, Pa.
1st Lt. JOHN SWISHER, Kansas City, Mo.
The Air Force said T/Sgt. N. D. VASQUEZ, Laredo, Tex., was seriously injured.
The three airmen who were listed with minor injuries are Airman 2/C JOHN B. PATTON, Chicago, Ill.; Airman 2/C WILLIAM F. IMLEY, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and S. Sgt. JOHN E. WITTINE, Albany, N.Y.
Oakland Tribune California 1954-10-07