There were forty-three passengers and eight crew members onboard
this Douglas C-54-DC (DC-54) Skymaster medical aircraft
(registration number 42-72457) when it crashed in the Korea strait
one mile from the end of the runway after taking off from Ashiya Air
Base. The aircraft was assigned to the 6th Troop Carrier
Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Wing based in Tachikawa Air
Base, Japan. Killed were eighteen passengers and five crew members,
including one of two females on the flight, Vera M. Brown.
To add information to this page of the Korean War Educator
contact Lynnita Brown, 111 E. Houghton St., Tuscola, Illinois 61953;
ph. 217-253-4620 (home) or 217-722-3285 (her store - Saturday 10-3); e-mail
Most recent update to this page: February 10, 2021
Table of Contents:
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Crew Members - 8 crew
- Amerine, 2Lt. F.M. - co-pilot
- Bonham, 1Lt. Jonita Ruth - flight nurse from
Oklahoma. Recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross.
See Bio section.
- Brown, Capt. Vera M. - flight nurse from Birmingham,
Alabama. (See Bio section.) Fatality.
- Hunnewell, SSgt. George - engineer
- Loggins, Pfc. William C. - medical technician
- Steele, Sgt. Foster Jr. - medical technician.
Born April 8, 1929, son of Foster M Steele (1887-1968) and Donna
M. Buchanan Steele (1889-1971). His brother was Carl D.
Steele (1911-1993). There is a marker for him in the
Craigs Cemetery, Wetzel County, West Virginia. Fatality.
- Sowell, F.M. - radio operator
- Ward, 1Lt. Walter W. - pilot. Born August 5,
1920, there is a marker for him in the Pawhuska City Cemetery,
Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Fatality.
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Passengers - 43 passengers
- Besancon, Pvt. Charles W. - Born November 18, 1930,
Charles is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery, Westfield,
Massachusetts. His next of kin was Mrs. Geraldine H.
Besancon of Chester, Massachusetts. - Fatality
- Brown, Pvt. Richard L.
- Caffey, Cpl. William E. - b. September 28, 1914. Home
state, his next of kin was Mr. C.H. Caffey of Groves, Texas.
He is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. 8th Air Force Motor Vehicle Squadron.
- Cavallo, Sgt. Louis W. - Born April 5, 1923, Louis is
buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Caledonia, Wisconsin. - Fatality
- Chambliss, Pvt. Fred G. - Born January 17, 1914, he
is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Xenia, Ohio. - Fatality
- Corley, MSgt. Wilson T. - Born October 17, 1916, he
is buried in Rock Springs Cemetery, Nacogdoches, Texas. - Fatality
- Curatolo, Pvt. Carmelo J.
- Edmonson, Cpl. Charlie W.
- Gillick, Pvt. Edward F.
- Granteed, Pfc. Joseph D.
- Hagan, Cpl. Kenneth A.
- Harrell, Sgt. Robert L.
- Hottinger, Pvt. William H. - Born March 2, 1927, he
was from Hillsboro, Ohio. His next of kin was Mrs. Eula B.
Hottinger, Mount Orab, Ohio. William is buried in Golden
Gate National Cemetery. - Fatality
- Johnson, Pvt. Horace Wilson Jr. - Born November 12,
1930, he is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, Georgia.
His next of kin was Mrs. Horace W. Johnson of Quitman. -
- Johnson, Cpl. Philip F.
- Johnston, Pfc. Percy E.
- Jung, Pfc. Bruce R. - Born November 22, 1929, he is
buried in Valhalla Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Funeral
services for Pfc. Jung were held out of Trinity Presbyterian
Church, with members of the Joseph Schlitz American Legion Post
performing military rites. Bruce was the son of Emil J.
(1905-1966) and Pricilia Jung, Des Moines, Iowa, formerly of
Milwaukee, and the brother of sisters Patricia and Suzanne of
Des Moines. - Fatality
- Lambert, Pfc. Ronald John - Born December 02, 1925,
he is buried in McDonogh Cemetery, Gretna, Louisiana. His
next of kin was Mrs. Virginia V. Lambert of Algiers, Louisiana.
- Lewis, SSgt. William J.
- Limmer, Cpl. Alvin
- Listner, Cpl. Oliver Leo - Born June 22, 1930,
Listner was a survivor of this crash. He died April 19,
1992 and is buried in Ft. Snelling National Cemetery,
- McKelvey, Pfc. Melvin L. Born March 14, 1931, he is
buried in Memory Lawn Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona. His next
of kin was Mrs. Bessie B. McKelvey of Phoenix. - Fatality
- McLeroy, Cpl. Aces R.
- Mellet (Mellit?), Pvt. Robert L. - This Air Force
private suffered a major injury in the crash.
- Meyers, Pvt. Lamont L.
- Moravetz, Sgt. John J.
- Morgan, Cpl. John Frederick Jr. - Born March 31,
1931, he enlisted in the military in Tampa, Florida. -
- Ross, Pfc. David E.
- Sanders, Pvt. Joseph H. - born 1921. Member of the
6131 Air Force Air Police Squad, he was from Stilwell, Oklahoma.
- Santilliam, Sgt. Miguel V.
- Selby, Cpl. Richard Nealon "Dick" - born September
28, 1928, son of Joseph Carroll Selby (1895-1956) and Mary
Josephine Ritenour Selby (1903-1984) of Smitland, Maryland.
He was a member of 8th Supply Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber
Group. His siblings were: Joseph Carroll Selby
(1926-1994), Francis Stanislaus Selby (1927-1998), Leonard
Patrick Selby (1929-2011), Norman Stuart Selby (1930-1996) and
Frederick Lee Selby (1933-1936). Fatality.
- Smeltzer, SSgt. Lawrence W.
- Smith, Pfc. A.L.
- Stark, Cpl. William C.
- Vilandre, Cpl. Robert D. -Born May 6, 1930, Corporal
Vilandre's next of kin was Amy Vilandre of Crary, North Dakota.
He was a member of the 8th Air Police Squadron at the time of
the crash. He is buried in Crary Cemetery, Crary.
- Ward, Lt. Walter W. - Born August 5, 1920, he
was from Ardmore, Oklahoma. There is a marker for him in
Pawhuska City Cemetery, Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Fatality.
- Watts, Sgt. L. G. - born January 25, 1928.
- White, Cpl. Eddie G.
- Whitmore, Pfc. Benjamin Garland - Born January 10,
1915, he is buried in Butterwood Cemetery, Darvills, Virginia. -
- Wilson, Cpl. George K.
- Wimbish, Pvt. John Leonard - Born December 3, 1928,
son of George Edmond Wimbish (1895-1980) and Mary Alice Kapp
Wimbish (1898-1939) of Alamance County, North Carolina, John
Wimbish entered the Air Force in January 1947 for a three-year
term and served 18 months of that time in the Philippine
Islands. He returned home in January 1950 and reenlisted.
He was sent to California for a short time, and was then
assigned to duty in Japan. He was among the first American
soldiers to arrive in Korea after the war broke out in June, and
was serving with an air police squadron at the time of the plane
His siblings were Seaman 2C Clarence Chamberlain Wimbish
(1927-1945), killed in action aboard the USS Drexler DD441 in
World War II), Ted Wimbish, James Wimbish, Barny Wimbish, Roger Gene Wimbish (1949-1968), Romie Edmond
Wimbish (1917-1995), and Kathleen Wimbish Howell. He was
also survived by half-sisters Virginia Wimbish and Vickie
Wimbish, and half-brothers G.E. Wimbish, Jr., Glen Wimbish,
Donald Wimbish, and Roger Wimbish. Fatality.
Wimbish MIA Article
(Click picture for a larger view)
Pvt. John Wimbish Obituary
(Click picture to see the whole obituary)
- Wood, Pfc. Alfred W. - born June 23, 1931.
Fatality. Alfred is buried in Philadelphia National
Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Zaiz, Cpl. Richard A. - Survivor. [See News
Clippings section of this page (The McKendree Review) for
Corporal Zaiz's memories of his first airplane ride.]
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- Bonham, Jonita Ruth - Flight nurse. Lieutenant
Bonham was the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross in the
Korean War. See her bio on
Women in Korea on the KWE.|
- Brown, Vera M. - Flight nurse. Captain Brown, a World War II nurse
from Birmingham, Alabama, was assigned to the 801st Medical Air
Evacuation Squadron and was on this air
evacuation flight. According to the Office of the Air
Force Surgeon General in Washington, D.C., Captain Brown
received the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously. It
should be noted that in an official preliminary accident report
transmission from Far East Air Forces headquarters, Vera Brown
(Service Number 763137) was listed as flight nurse "Victor"
Vera Maude Brown was a native of Wedowee, Randolph County,
Alabama, and a graduate of Randolph County High School.
She was 29 years old at the time of her death. She was the
daughter of Mrs. Winston H. (Arizona M.) Boone of Birmingham, and the
sister of Mrs. Virginia Covington. She graduated from the Carraway Methodist Hospital's School of Nursing and joined the
Army Nurse Corps thereafter. In 1945 she graduated from
the AAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas,
and had a tour of duty in a general hospital in Japan. She
is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Alabama. In addition to
her mother and sister, she was survived by a niece and nephew.
In her honor, in May of 1951 the Future Nurses Club of Phillips
High School. Birmingham, Alabama, became the Vera M. Brown
Chapter, Future Nurses of America.
For further information about Vera Brown, see
Korea" in the Topics of the Korean War Educator.
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The McKendree Review, September 23, 1958, page 2
"My First Airplane Ride" by Richard A. Zaiz, Sr.
At four o'clock on September 26, 1950, I climbed aboard a
C-54 Air force cargo plane along with 51 other GIs. I
buckled my helmet under my chin, made sure my field pack was on
good, picked up a mae-west life jacket, put it on, and sat down,
my carbine between my legs. I looked around me at all the
other passengers. They seemed calm. I was scared.
Never having been up in a plane before, this was something of a
thrill to me.
The crew chief of the plane explained how to use the mae-west
in case of emergency, which, he said, "You don't have to worry
about." Then the co-pilot told everyone to fasten his
safety belt, but failed to explain how it could be adjusted to
fit around us, I laid mine on my lap, covering it with my
hands as I heard someone say, "This plane is named after my
state, the Hoosier state."
At this point I heard the four big motors roar and felt the
brakes give; the plane started rolling down the taxi-ramp toward
the runway. I put my feet up in the baggage in front of me
and tried to go to sleep, thinking I wouldn't be scared then.
As I sat there with my eyes half closed, I could see the runway
lights out of the window across from me. The plane stopped
for a second or two and then forged down the runway. I
The next thing I knew, I was out of the plane flying end over
end in the air, getting hit with everything but the wings of the
plane. I thought at first that I was dreaming, but then I
hit the cold waters of the Sea of Japan.
I heard nothing for what seemed to me an eternity, then one
by one I heard shouts for help. The whole black night was
filled with "help, help, help", and the shouts turned to mad
cries, and I could hear "help" -- and the next time "hel" - but
this time the word was unfinished.
I hung to the barracks bags and boxes, inflating my mae-west.
I heard, "Someone, please help me." I swam around and
found him as he was going under. I grabbed hold of what I
thought to be a parachute, but found out later that it was a
mattress and held on. Holding the head of the other airman
above the water, I worked my way around the mattress until I was
on the other side, still holding on to this lad.
I felt something hit my leg, and then the boy I was holding
up said, "I have something through my side." I reached
under the water until I could feel it. It was a piece of
the plane. I turned on the small flashlight on my mae-west
in order that anyone else nearby could see us.
All at once I heard voices. I tried to swim toward them
and I was in luck. About nine men were on a life raft.
I grabbed and hung on. We floated around until daylight.
Still there were frequent calls for help, and we heard them fade
away as if someone were blowing through a straw in a glass of
As the sky brightened with the early morning sun we could see
the bloody faces of each other. One man on the raft was
dead. Another had his scalp cut half off. Then out
of what seemed like nowhere came a Japanese fishing boat which
picked us up and took us to land. From here we went to the
Air Base hospital for treatment--23 in all out of 51 persons.
This ended my first airplane ride.
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