Topics - US Navy Privateer Crash
Atada-shima, Japan
July 27, 1951

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Most recent update to this page: February 23, 2020


Within three minutes after takeoff from Iwakuni Air Base, Japan, this US Navy Privateer patrol bomber PB4Y-2 crashed on the small mountain island of Atada-shima in the Inland Sea on July 27, 1951.  The entire crew (Flight Crew 7, Patrol Bomber Squadron 772, based at Atsugi, Japan). was killed when the bomber exploded due to the full load of fuel and armed mines in the aircraft.

Page Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Fatalities
  • Accident Report
  • Bios of Fatalities

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  • Cook, ADF1 Edward Buford
  • Gariel, ADE1 Robert
  • Marovish, Lt. James Herbert
  • McCord, Lt. Walder L.
  • Overton, Aviation Electronics Man Airman Robert Edward - 2nd Radar
  • Pridgen, Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Utility Coley Grey
  • Ricotta, Aviation Electronics Technician Second Class Thomas
  • Spund, Lt. Allen - co-pilot
  • Still, Petty Officer 1st Class William Raymond

Accident Report


Aircraft was scheduled for a Tactical Reconnaissance flight on morning of the 27th out of RAAF Base at Iwakuni. Pilot filed an IFR tactical flight clearance in accordance with local AACS regulations. Two days prior to this date, subject aircraft had flown a tactical mission of nine hours duration on which no trouble of mechanical nature was encountered. Plane Captain's report to maintenance Chief after landing, was that aircraft was in a "up" status. In later afternoon of the 26th aircraft was turned up, checked out and reported to be operationally ready. Weather cover was VFR. Pilot taxied to take-off area at 0324 local time.

Board assumes he checked aircraft in accordance with PB4Y-2 pre-take-off procedures. ATC cleared pilot to climb out VFR to 6000-ft, to maintain 6000-ft, proceed via airway Green to Fukuoka Control when airborne. Aircraft was airborne at 0344k. Pilot contacted tower for permission to leave tower frequency approx 3 minutes following take-off. This is as reported by tower operator. At a time later established to be approximately 0347K; a fire and explosion was seen on Atada Shima.

This island bears 035 degrees 5miles from tower. Air Sea Rescue, Hospital, and Base Operations were notified at once. Air-Sea Rescue personnel were at scene of disaster at 0455K. They reported no survivors. Aircraft struck NW corner of Island at an altitude of approx 175 feet. Its course was determines to be 230seg. From reconstruction of estimated flight path, pilot must have been in a right hard turn in an attempt to miss higher peaks of island to his left, his right wing struck the ground first. Plane cart-wheeled and exploded.

Wreckage and personnel were strewn forward for a distance of approx 200 yards. This area included point of impact up to ridge over and down the other side. Fire and explosion was so great that it was impossible to reconstruct or determine mechanical failure or cause of accident. Main aircraft parts identifiable were wing, panel and engines. No part of fuselage could be found. Explosion of two depth charges are thought to have cause complete disintegration.


In as much as there are no survivors and no positive reports of material failure. Factor causing accident con only be left to conjecture. It is known that PPC was a cautious, sober, experienced and competent pilot. Why he was at extremely low altitude three minutes following take-off is unknown. His request to be cleared from tower frequency indicated he believed operations were normal. Under existing similar weather conditions and always under IFC conditions most pilots make a take-off to the south. This is the outstanding criticism Board has of pilot procedure. Board feels certain that mechanical difficulties were encountered, but has no proof of same.


Board is of opinion that primary cause of accident is unknown. This conclusion is based upon lack of evidence to prove positive material failure, mechanical failure or pilot failure. Board recommends that obstacle lights be placed upon Atada Shima. There are no lights of any kind to be seen at night.

Bios of Fatalities

Cook, Edward Buford

Born March 25, 1917 in San Bernardino County, California, he was a son of Robert "Roy" Cook (1882-1918) and Caddie Barker Cook (1883-1966).  His wife was Winona Cook.  He was the brother of Roy Barker Cook (19012-1984).  Edward is buried in Hillside Memorial Park, Redlands, California.

Gariel, Robert

Born on May 27, 1923 in San Antonio, Texas, Robert was a son of Edward F. Gariel (1891-1980) and Antonia Guzman Gariel (1898-1991).  His brother was Edward Antonio Gariel (1920-1949).  Robert is buried in Iwakuni-Shi, Yamaguchi, Japan.

Marovish, James H.

Born April 15, 1916, James was the husband of Jane Vickers Marovish (1920-1997) and the son of Herbert and Narcis Marovish.  James and Jane are buried in San Gabriel Cemetery, San Gabriel, California.

McCord, Lt. Walder L.

Born August 14, 1920, Lieutenant McCord was the son of Walder L. McCord (1895-1986) and Ruth E. McCord (1898-1966).  Walder Jr. is buried in Olivewood Cemetery, Riverside, California.

Overton, Robert Edward

Born January 08, 1927 in California, Robert was the son of Fred Stryker Overton (1892-1966) and Mildred Shenneman Overton (1893-1977).  He is buried in San Gabriel Cemetery, San Gabriel, California.

Pridgen, Coley Grey

Born April 5, 1925 in Wilmington, North Carolina, son of Cole Gray Pridgen (1902-1934) and Florence Mae Allender Loftin Gray (1908-1986).  He is buried in Wilmington National Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ricotta, Thomas

Born January 27, 1927 in Buffalo, New York, Thomas was the son of John Ricotta (1888-1962) and Antonia Ricotta (1893-1984).  He is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga, New York.

Spund, Allen

Allen was born in 1917 and is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, New York.  He was the son of Rev. Gershon Spund, New York, New York.

Still, William Raymond

Born September 23, 1922 in Beaumont, Texas, he was the son of William Ray Still (1888-1936) and Daisy May Swilley Still (1898-1989).  William's widow was Doris Mae Still (1925-1995).  He is buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California.


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