Idyllwild, CA Bomber Crash, Dec 1940


LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18 — Six officers
and men from March Field
met instant death today when their
four-engined Flying Fortress bomber
crashed at full throttle against
the southwest flank of 10,300-foot
Marion Mountain, three miles northeast
of Idyllwild in the San Bernadino
National Forest.
Following are the names of the
First Lieutenant HAROLD J.
TURNER, pilot, formerly of Corning,
First Lieutenant DONALD T.
WARD, co-pilot, formerly of West
Los Angeles.
First Lieutenant VERNON Mc-
CAULEY, navigator, Riverside.
Staff Sergeant THOMAS P.
SWEET, flight engineer, Riverside.
Corporal FRANK J. JIRAK, assistant
engineer, formerly of
Salem, Ore.
radio man, formerly of Bisbee,
Bound on a two-hour routine
training mission, the twenty-twoton
bomber had been cruising leisurely
through broken clouds at
8,000 feet.
At 10:45 A. M. the plane encountered
mechanical trouble. Witnesses
at Idyllwild Inn and a t the Pine
Cove, near by, reported hearing it
circling several times overhead.
The ship's engines seemed to be
A few moments later the craft
dove headlong into the boulderstrewn,
heavily wooded slopes of
Marion Mountain. I t s 150-foot wing
sheared through a pine tree.
Four Bodies Are Thrown Clear
A rescue party rushed up the narrow
mountain road. It arrived in
twenty minutes, to discover only
red-hot fused metal.
Four charred bodies had hurtled
from the plane as it struck. The
two others were inside. Because of
the intense heat, "an attempt to
save them would have been impossible,"
according to H. Baird, hotel
inn proprietor.
The bomber fell about thirty
miles from March Field. Across
the hogback of peaks, which includes
Jean (10,500 feet) and San
Jacinto (10,805 feet), it was less
than fifteen miles to Palm Springs
and the desert.
Ambulances and investigators
hurried from the Riverside base
when word of the crash was telephoned
by an Idyllwild forest
Homer Allen, Pine Cove photographer,
who was among the first
to reach the scene, said:
"All I saw was crumpled metal."

Dec. 19 edition of "The New York Times"