Topics - F3D-2 SkyKnight Fatalities

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In May of 1953 the last combat sorties flown by the F7F-3N took place in Korea.  The outdated "Tigercats" were replaced by F3D-2 SkyKnights ("Flying Nightmares") that month, but the F3D-2's actually began service in Korea in the Fall of 1952.  At that time the squadron of F3D-2's moved to K-6 (Pyong-Taek) from K-8 (Kunsan).   It's full complement of pilots as of May 1953 was 39 pilots and 42 radio operators.  The twin-engine, mid-wing jet fighter was developed by Douglas Aircraft Company in California.  The missions of the F3D-2s included Night Combat Air Patrol, Escort and Barrier flights in connection with B-29s, and nightly strip alert. From 1952 until 1953 there were five accidents that resulted in crew fatalities during the Korean War.

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Accidents Resulting in Fatalities

  • August 15, 1952
  • September 01, 1952
  • May 30, 1953
  • July 2, 1953
  • July 4, 1953

August 15, 1952

This accident involved an F3D-2 Douglas Skyknight fighter (Registration Number 124623) with the Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513, Marine Air Group 33, 1st Marine Air Wing. On August 15, 1952, while on a night combat mission over the Yellow Sea about 50 miles west of Pyongyang, North Korea, radio and radar contact was lost.  The pilot and radar operator were listed as Missing in Action and presumed dead in 1954.

Pilot: Col. Peter Donald Lambrecht

Peter was born December 22, 1912 in Mancelona, Michigan, a son of John Lambrecht (1870-1939) and Nettie Mae Marsh Lambrecht (1873-1939).  His wife was Gladys McGowan Lambrecht (1912-1971).  Peter and Gladys were parents of Peter Donald Lambrecht II, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and Anne Lambrecht Hyde.  Peter was the brother of Louis Abbott Lambrecht (1901-1960), John Osgood Lambrecht (1903-1972), May Lambrecht (died at 12 days old in 1903), Robert C. Lambrecht, and James G. Lambrecht.  Peter's brother John was a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  Peter was a decorated World War II and Korean War veteran.

Radar Operator: 1Lt. James Montgomery Brown

James was born January 29, 1922 in New York, a son of Malcolm H. Brown (1892-1962) and Victoria R. Vega Brown (1896-1986).  His wife was Norma P. Ford Brown (later Norma Sheridan 1923-2005).  His siblings were Casemiro Arthur Brown (1917-1985), Josephine Rita Brown Carrigan (1919-1990) and Victoria L. Brown (1924-1990).  James Montgomery Brown was a World War II and Korean War veteran.

September 01, 1952

This accident involved an F3D-2 Douglas Skyknight fighter with the Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513, Marine Air Group 33, 1st Marine Air Wing. On September 1, 1952, while departing on a combat mission, the engine malfunctioned on take-off and the plane crashed into the water two miles from Kusan Airfield (K-8), South Korea. The pilot was killed.

Pilot: Maj. Harold John Eiland

Harold, called "Bud" by his family and friends, was born to John Franklin Eiland (1883-1965) and Grace Margaret (Storch) Eiland (1900-1941). He had six siblings: George, Selma Evelyn Eiland (1927-2019), Kathleen Theresa Eiland Singleton (1926-2015), Lillian Louise Eiland Ullrich (1927-2019) and Robert Everett Eiland (1932-2005).  Another brother died at birth. In the 1930 US Census his family was living in Winter Haven, Florida.  In the 1935 census they were living in Pasco County, Florida. Bud married Miss Sara Alice Sickler in 1943 in Pasco County, Florida. 

May 30, 1953

This accident involved F3D-2 Douglas Skyknight fighter No. 127024 in Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513, Marine Air Group 12, 1st Marine Air Wing. On May 30, 1953, while returning from escorting B-29's on a night mission near the mouth of the Yalu River, North Korea, contact with the aircraft was lost after requesting landing instructions from Kusan Airfield (K-8).  The crew was missing in action and presumed dead on June 01, 1954.

Pilot: Capt. James Benjamin Brown

James Brown was born June 11, 1921 in Naches, Washington.  He was the husband of Dorothy Rumple Brown (died January 12, 2015), and the father of two daughters, S. Jean Brown and R. Jo Brown.  His siblings were Cleo Brown, Garland Brown, and Ruth Brown Shelton. 

Radar Operation: Sgt. James Vaughn Harrell

James "Red" Harrell was born November 09, 1931 in Louisiana, a son of Charles Thomas Harrell Sr. (1906-1960) and Oma I. Eager Harrell (1907-1998).  His siblings were Charles Thomas Harrell Jr. (1922-1986) and Ellene Harrell Havans.  After joining the Marine Corps he trained at Airborne Intercept Operators  School at Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Originally listed as missing in action, James' remains were discovered in a shallow grave on a small island about ten miles off the coast of Korea in the early 2000's.  His remains were identified by dog tags and his flight jacket.  After identification his remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery on February 01, 2002. 

July 2, 1953

This accident involved F3D-2 Douglas Skyknight fighter (Serial Number Unknown), with Detachment 44 Composite Squad 44 aboard the carrier USS Lake Champlain (CVA-39).  The F3D- was based at K-6 airfield.  On July 2, 1953, while on patrol 12 miles north of Cho-do Island, the plane encountered four enemy fighters. After shooting down one enemy fighter the American plane was lost. It's two-man crew was missing in action.  DPAA: "On July 2, 1953, an F3D-2 Skyknight (bureau number unknown) with a crew of two conducted a night combat patrol mission over North Korea. During the mission, the pilot radioed to report tail warning contacts and plinking noises coming from the rear of the aircraft that sounded like it was being fired upon. He took evasive action, but the aircraft was not heard from again."

Pilot: Ltjg Robert Sterling Bick (USN)

Robert was born May 23, 1929, the son of Robert Sterling George Michael Bick (1904-1983) and Delores Maria Dejongh Bick (1911-1987).  He enlisted in Queens, New York.

Radar Operator: ATC Linton Calton Smith Jr.

Linton was born October 7, 1924 in Texas, the son of Linton Calton Smith Sr. (1894-1953) and Faye Randall Smith (later Hillyer) (1899-1982).  He was the father of Robert Smith (born 1952) and Janice Smith Adams (born in 1953).  His siblings were Mrs. Charles C. (Helen Irene Smith) Pruitt (1917-2006), Mrs. Ira O. (Sarah Ethel Smith) Holtzclaw (1919-1995), and possibly Cecielle Smith Evans.

July 4, 1953

This accident involved F3D-2 Douglas Skyknight fighter (#124636).  DPAA: "On July 4, 1953, an F3D-2 Skyknight (bureau number 124636) carrying two crew members took off from Pyongtaek Airbase, South Korea, on a night mission to fly top cover for other aircraft operating in the area or returning from missions. After its departure, the aircraft's route was toward the North Korean lowlands, south of Pyongyang. The crew made its last radio contact shortly after taking off and while near the mouth of the Taedong River, but ground control stations were unable to make any further contact after this point. Other aircraft flying in the same area attempted to raise the pilot on the radio but had no success. It was estimated that the missing Skyknight's fuel would have depleted early on July 5. When it failed to return to base, search efforts were launched but failed to locate the missing Skyknight or its crew."

Pilot: Capt. Lote Clegg Thistlethwaite Sr.

Lote was born November 12, 1924, a son of John Richmond Thistlethwaite (1883-1934) and Charlotte Frere Thistlethwaite (1894-1990).  He was married to Aline M. Thistlethwaite and they were parents of sons Lote C. Thistlethwaite Jr. (1951-2005) and Mark Thistlethwaite.  Lote Jr. and his mother Aline were killed in a single car accident in 2005.

Radar Operator: SSgt. William Herman Westbrook

William was born November 22, 1928 in Kentucky, a son of Ernie Herman Westbrook (1899-1962) and Mary Estelle Smith (1903-1938).  He was married to Joan Alda Ely (1933-2000).  William's siblings were Ernie Westbrook (1923-1923), Mary Ann Westbrook (1924-1995), Dorthy Rose Westbrook (1927-2012), and Jack or John Westbrook (1930-1991).


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