March Air Force Base, CA Air Force B-52 Crash, Oct 1978
PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR FOUND.
March Air Force Base, Calif. (AP) -- The lone survivor of the crash of an Air Force B-52 bomber in which five crewmen died was a tail gunner who stumbled from the fiery wreckage and was found staggering through a plowed field.
Master Sgt. JOSEPH PACKEY, 35, was reported in stable condition at the March Air Force Base hospital with severe injuries, officials said.
The 244-ton, eight-engine bomber was carrying 61,000 gallons of fuel when it departed on a routine training mission in light fog, Air Force Capt. Carl Rossman said. No nuclear or conventional weapons were aboard the craft, Rossman said, although March is a Strategic Air Command base.
Staff Sgt. John Romines said PACKEY, originally from Mt. Pleasant, Pa., was found in a plowed field about 300 yards from the site of Thursday's crash.
Romines identified the dead as:
Maj. WILLIAM PARKELL, 35, of Red Bank, N.J., instructor-pilot.
Capt. ROBERT MITCHELL, 29, of Dayton, Ohio, co-pilot.
Capt. MICHAEL McCREEDY, 32, of Tacoma, Wash., radar navigator.
1st Lt. ROBERT TUMINELLO, 26, of Commack, N.Y., navigator.
Capt. RUSSELL MAYNARD, 27, of Alexandria, Va., electronics warfare officer.
Air Force investigators were trying to determine why the jet crashed one mile southeast of the March runway in a rural area between Sunnymead and Perris -- about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The giant aircraft went down just 100 yards from a mobile home owned by automotive parts distributor Harry Durbin.
Durgin, 50, said he was outside when a sputtering noise attracted his attention. He saw the plane, about 400 feet in the air, bank to the east and lose altitude.
"The left wing hit the ground, then the fuselage, then the whole thing blew up," Durbin said. "I thought they probably heard the explosion all the way to Riverside
(about 15 miles away)."
Flaming debris killed 34 animals belonging to grain farmer Al Blakley and set some of his farm equipment on fire.
"I've been through cyclones in Oklahoma, but nothing was as bad as this," said Blakley, 66. "The whole place was on fire. I couldn't tell it was a plane."
The 25-year-old Boeing Stratofortress was used extensively in the Vietnam War and is still the country's major long-range bomber. Usually manned by six to eight men, the craft is designed to deliver heavy payloads of nuclear and conventional weaponry and has a range of up to 6,000 miles.
Journal Tribune Marysville Ohio 1978-10-20