Kirtland Air Force Base, NM Bomber Crash, Jan 1947

Service Records.
Captain BLEDSOE, pilot of the plane, was combat with Col. Hoisington, and was a close personal friend, the commanding officer revealted. It was Col. Hoisington who notified the captain's wife of the accident.
The captain, who had been recommended for the Silver Star, was awaiting separation from the service.
Col. HATCHER was one of the first B-17 group commanders to bomb Germany from an English base. Shot down on a mission in 1943, he spent 18 months as a prisoner of the Nazis.
Master Sergeant ALFORD was described by his buddies as one of the best B-29 mechanics in the country.
THACKER held five Bronze Stars for heroism in the Asiatic theater and Corp. RUFF held two Bronze Stars issued in the same theater.
A military guard was posted around the wreckage immediately after the crash and military intelligence officers gathered bits of the wreckage as soon as it was cool enough to handle.
Secret Devices.
Secret devices, the nature of which the army refused to reveal, were removed from the scene as rapidly as they could be cut away from the smashed plane.
It was nearly four hours after the accident before a Journal reporter and photographer were allowed to approach the wreck, which was still guarded by armed sentries.
The huge column of smoke that arose from the burning plane was plainly visible in Albuquerque Fire Chief Art Westerfield, who was on North Fourth, called in to the fire department to ask where the blaze was.
Cpl. Isabel Guzman, 23, of Laredo, Tex., and Sgt. Eldon Hawkins, 30, of Oxnard, Cal., risked their own lives in the rescue attempt, officers said.

Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1947-01-28



An Army board of inquiry met in a lonely arroyo south of Kirtland Field Tuesday to study the charred wreckage of a B-29 Superfortress which Monday became a funeral pyre for 11 of the 12 members of its crew.
The board is seeking to discover what caused the giant bomber to smash into the crest of a small knoll at the edge of the arroyo seconds after it took off on what was described as a routine training flight.
Meanwhile, at Veterans' Hospital, it was reported that T. Sgt. FRANCIS L. PODLESKY, 33, of 1618 Ridgecrest Drive, Albuquerque, had a fighting chance for life.
Other Victims.
PODLESKY, although thrown clear of the wreckage of the plane, was in critical condition from burns. It had not been possible to question him concerning the accident.
The names of the five other victims of the fatal flight were released by Kirtland Field authorities. They were:
T. Sgt. JOSEPH F. SADLER, 33, with five years service, who had a wife and two children, address not known. His mother lives at Clinton, Mass.
Sgt. WILLIAM YONIGAIG, 32, single, with six years 19 months service, whose mother lives at Centerreach, Long Island, N.Y.
M. Sgt. JOHN R. HICKS, 33, with 11 years of Army service, whose mother, Mildred K. Hicks, lives in LaGrange, Ill.
S. Sgt. HERBERT G. NINNEMAN, 30, whose wife and one child live in Redfield, S.D.
Pfc. JOHNNIE B. CLEMENTS, 18, with one years' service, whose mother, Mrs. Dallas Smith, lives in Miami, Fla.
YONIGAIG was a veteran of the Eastern Mediterranean theater.
Fire In Motors.
Preliminary investigation indicated that one, and possibly two of the motors of the big plane caught fire as the ship took off.
Memorial services for the 11 dead were held at the post Chapel at 11 a.m. Tuesday, and the field was closed from 10 in the morning to 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1947-01-29



Albuquerque, N.M., Jan. 30. -- Tech. Sgt. FRANCIS L. PODLESKI, 33, of Albuquerque, sole survivor of a B-29 crash at Kirtland Field Monday in which 11 other crew members lost their lives, died at the Veterans Hospital today.