Flying Fortress Bomber Blazes In Mid-Air Crash
One of the most gruesome tragedies in the history of Colorado County occurred Saturday morning about ten o'clock when a Flying Fortress bomber caught fire in midair and crashed aflame a few miles southeast of Columbus. The big plane was on a routine flight when it fell in a hay field near the Colorado river. An eye witness to the crash was Leroy Riehs of La Grange who was working with army engineers making a flood control survey along the Colorado river. He stated that it appeared that one of the big ship's motors stalled and the plane went into a dive, crashing some distance away from where he was working.
The Columbus Fire Department answered the call and according to Fire Chief S. A. Harbert the bodies of eight men were found near the plane. The body of a ninth man was found near the plane's wreckage. He had evidently tried to parachute too late. His body, with open parachute was found outside the plane. Chief Harbert said the plane seemed to crash from a height of 12,000 feet. As soon as the fire was under control, the portions of the bodies were removed and placed under guard until the arrival of government officials. They were later removed to a Houston funeral home.
Army trucks passed through Eagle Lake Tuesday loaded with the salvaged portions of the plane. Very little was left to remove after the giant fortress crashed and burned.
The public relation office from the Kearney Air Base of Kearney, Nebraska, the Fortress' home field, announced the names of those aboard the four-engined plane, who met a tragic death as follows:
Second Lieut. Haydn W. Barrows, 22, mother, Mrs. H. W. Barrows, Jamaica, N.Y.
Second Lieut. C. D. Crawford, wife, Mrs. Edna Crawford, 3222 La Branch, Houston.
Second Lieut. James P. Rogers, 25, wife, Mrs. Gwyn D. Rogers, San Marcos, Texas.
Pvt. Caeimer P. Kopera, 25, mother, Mrs. Antoinette Kopera, Buffalo, N.Y.
Sgt. Harry A. Krebs, 27, mother, Mrs. Margaret Curtis, Vincennes, Ind.
Sgt. Seymour Wadler, 19, mother, Mrs. Esther Miller, Chicago, Ill.
The plane had been detached for temporary assignment at the Galveston Army Air Base.
Eagle Lake Headlight, October 1, 1943
Transcribed by Judy Talkington
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