Topics - R4Q Marine Cargo Plane (BuNo131663)
Crash near Milton, Florida - July 17, 1953

Close this window

[Most recent update to this page: August 24, 2021]



Young college students, all Navy midshipmen, many of whom were teenagers, were injured or lost their lives in a fiery plane crash near Milton, Florida on July 17, 1953.  There were 41 casualties among the passengers and crew.  The midshipmen victims had just completed a three-week familiarization course in naval aviation at NAS, Cabaniss Field and NAAS Kingsville.  For many of them, it was their first time in an airplane.  There were 40 Naval ROTC men and six Marine crewmen aboard the R4Q Fairchild Packet plane (the Marine version of the C119 Flying Boxcar) which was regularly attached to the 2nd Marine Air Wing based at Cherry Point, North Carolina.  All the ROTC men were college students, in their sophomore and junior years and from many states.  As part of their reserve work they are required to take six weeks summer training at naval installations in Corpus Christi and Norfolk.  Altogether, 1,600 ROTC men are taking part in this summer's program, half of them at Corpus Christi and half at Norfolk.
At the end of three weeks, the 800 at Norfolk and 800 at Corpus Christi swapped bases for the final three weeks.  The group which had stopped at Whiting was half of the 800 being flown to Norfolk.

Part of a flight of five transports ferrying the NROTC men from Corpus Christi, Texas to Norfolk, Virginia, for another phase of their six-week summer training program, the cargo plane had left from a refueling stop at Whiting Field minutes before it crashed on a farm near Pensacola and burst into flames.  It crashed into a group of trees 0.75 miles past the runway end, hit three parked cars, and then plowed into a barn on the Ray Allen farm.  Navy rescue teams found six survivors, but one died en-route to a hospital.  Three others died a few days later.

The public is invited to contribute to this page of the Korean War Educator by contacting Lynnita Brown (  Tributes to the passengers and crew members are welcome.


  1. Graff, Capt. Charles E. - pilot, Morehead City, North Carolina (critical condition).  He died July 18, 1953 and is buried in Crescent Cemetery, Crescent, Oklahoma.
  2. Maggard, Thomas F. - Navy ROTC, son of Mrs. Frank Maggard, Kansas City, Missouri, student at the University of Utah (critical condition).  He died July 26, 1953.
  3. Scott, Dale E. - NROTC, serious, son of Col. C. D. Scott, East Lansing, Michigan, student at University of Oklahoma (serious condition).  He died July 22, 1953.
  4. Tuttle, Cpl. J.P. - USMC, son of Jerome W. Tuttle, Chaumont, New York, crew member (serious condition)/Buried in Peoples Cemetery, Woodward, Iowa.  He died September 14, 1994.
  5. Weidler, Jay Benoir, Jr. - NROTC, student, son of Jay B. Weidler, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, student at Rice Institute (serious condition).  He died November 17, 2019.  [See the Tributes section of this page.]

[KWE Note: A message on the internet by T.G. Lilly stated: "Three of the initial five survivors died several days later in the Pensacola Naval Hospital: Dale E. Scott, a student at the University of Oklahoma, died on Wednesday, July 22, 1953; Captain C. E. Graff died the following day; and Thomas F. Maggard, a student at the University of Utah, died on Sunday, July 26, 1953. The only survivors were Corporal Jerome Tuttle, navigator, and midshipman Jay B. Weidler, Jr., of Rice Institute."]

The ten NROTC midshipmen from Rice Institute were honored with a plaque in the Rice Memorial Center in 2005.  The plaque was designed by classmate and architect John Joiner.  Further information and photographs of the Rice midshipmen can be found in the Volume II, No. 3, Fall 2006 issue of The Cornerstone newsletter of the Rice Historical Society.  The article was written by Mary S. Dix.


Crew Members:

  1. Farley, TSgt. Jerome L. - husband of Shirley J. Farley, Fort Macon Village, North Carolina/Died July 17, 1953/Buried in St. Jerome's Cemetery, Columbus, Wisconsin.
  2. Lyons, Sgt. Ned Joseph - husband of Shirley M. Lyons, Kokomo, Indiana/Buried in Sunset Memory Garden, Kokomo, Indiana. Died July 17, 1953.  Born August 1, 1930 in Kokomo, Indiana, he was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Lyons.  His wife was Shirley M. Downhour Lyons (1930-2002).  They were married in 1948.  Ned joined the United States Marine Corps on January 17, 1951.  His brother was Larry Lyons.
  3. Sabel, MSgt. David L. - husband of Anita Sabel, 535-B Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina/buried in Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, Section P, Site 1734, San Diego, California. Died July 18, 1953.
  4. Yoder, Capt. Grady L. - co-pilot, husband of Martha L. Yoder, Havelock, North Carolina/Buried in Grace Lutheran Cemetery, Newton, North Carolina.  Died July 18, 1953.


  1. Bailey, Edward Lee Jr. - son of Maggie J. Nicol (1905-1993), Webster, Texas, student at Rice Institute.  His goal was to become a chaplain.
  2. Bates, Eldred Donor Jr. - Born June 24, 1933, he was the son of Eldred Donor Bates Sr. and Mrs. Augusta Bates Meyer, Norman, Oklahoma.  He was a student at the University of Oklahoma.  He is buried in the IOOF Cemetery, Norman.
  3. Biles, William R. "Billy" - son of William Ray Biles (1906-1982) and Irene L. Biles (1911-2003), Springfield, Missouri, student at University of Missouri.  Born July 2, 1931, Bill is buried in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri.,
  4. Caldwell, Frank McFaden - son of Lawrence C. Caldwell, Richmond, Virginia, student at Rice Institute.  He was a member of the Rice golf team and had just graduated with a major in physics.
  5. Clayton, Edward R. - son of Arthur E. Clayton, Park Ridge, Illinois, student at Rice Institute.  He was an economics major.
  6. Coyle, George W. Jr. - son of George W. Coyle Sr. (1903-1981) and Lucile K. "Lucy" Kline Coyle (1907-1994), Maplewood, Louisiana, student at Rice Institute.  George Jr. was born in 1932 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Coffeyville, Kansas.  He was in his junior year in business administration.
  7. Daniel, Raymond Archie - son of Archie Washington Daniel (1991-1940) and Amy Lorena Mosley Daniel (1908-1994), Houston, student at Rice Institute.  Born July 08, 1931 in Waco, Texas, he is buried in Forest Park Cemetery, Houston, Texas.  It is possible that Raymond had a sister named Mary Elizabeth Ann Daniel, but the KWE has not confirmed this.  He was a graduate of Houston's John H. Reagan High School, had already received his ensign's commission, and planned to return to Rice for a master's in electrical engineering before his Navy duty.
  8. Dickson, Robert Kay Marshall - son of Robert Charles Dickson, El Paso, student at Rice Institute.  Born August 20, 1934, he is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso, Texas. He was a junior in electrical engineering.
  9. Elston, Wallis C. - son of Herbert Elston, Houston, student at Rice Institute.  His family moved to Houston when he was a teenager.  He wanted to enter medical school.
  10. Fahrenkamp, Emil Edmund - son of Emil Edmund and Thelma Mann Fahrenkamp, Fort Worth, University of Oklahoma.  He was born April 28, 1934 in Big Spring, Texas and was the Fahrenkamp's only child.  He is buried in Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Fort Worth, Texas.
  11. Heddleson, Charles Stewart - son of Warren Floyd Heddleson (1913-1976) and Fanchon Stewart Heddleson (1912-2002), Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma.  Born May 17, 1933, he is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  His sister was Margaret Nell Heddleson Harvey (1938-1990).
  12. Hughes, John Paul - son of W. T. Hughes, Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma.  Born February 23, 1933, he is buried in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  13. Kingen, James J. - brother of John H. Kingen (?), Tarrytown, New York, student at University of Oklahoma.  James was born June 18, 1932, a son of James Joseph Kingen II (1898-1923) and Grace Nolan Kingen (1898-1932).  He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York.
  14. Lulow, Roy Verl Jr. - son of Roy Verl Lulow Sr., Tulsa, Oklahoma.  A student at University of Oklahoma, he was born May 5, 1932.  He is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  15. Mills, Billy Everette - son of Mrs. Everett Mills, Wayne, Oklahoma.  A student at University of Oklahoma, he was born March 12, 1933.  He is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Purcell, Oklahoma.
  16. Munkres, James L. - son of Ray Riley Munkres (1901-1988) and Ethel Butcher Munkes (1905-1991), Enid, Oklahoma.  A student at University of Oklahoma, he was born September 30, 1932.  He is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Enid.
  17. Phillips, Ted G. - son of Harold E. Phillips (1908-1972) and Rebecca C. Phillips (1909-1998), Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma.  Born July 29, 1929, Ted is buried in Rosemound Cemetery, Medford, Oklahoma.
  18. Prentiss, George Henry Jr. - son of George Henry Prentiss Sr. (1895-1959) and Martha K. Prentiss (1895-1973), Muskogee, Oklahoma.  A student at University of Oklahoma, he was born January 18, 1934.  He is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
  19. Raibourn, James Paul - son of Claude Raibourn (1895-1987), Sarasota, Florida, student at University of Oklahoma.  James' brother was Gerald Robert Raibourn (1935-1994).  James Paul was born June 06, 1933 and is buried in Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola, Florida. 
  20. Rhyne, Robert E. - son of Mrs. Marvel F. (Martha M. Hogan) Rhyne, Fort Smith, Arkansas, student at University of Oklahoma.  Marvel Rhyne was born 1897 and died in 1972.  Martha Rhyne was born in 1906 and died in 1990.
  21. Richardson, Robert Eugene - son of Howard Eugene Richardson (1908-1977) and Maud Dare Richardson (1914-2013), Brookhaven, Mississippi, student at University of Oklahoma.  Robert was born on August 10, 1933 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Brookhaven, Mississippi.
  22. Rushing, John Blair - son of Mrs. Mabel Elisabeth Hill Rushing (1911-1999), Chandler, Oklahoma, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was survived by his mother and his sister, Mrs. L.P. (JoAnn) Melton Jr. (1929-2006).  Born September 1, 1933 in Oklahoma, John is buried in Oak Park Cemetery, Chandler, Oklahoma.
  23. Schleiff, Richard Wesley - son of Mrs. W. T. Schleiff, Fort Smith, Arkansas, student at University of Oklahoma.  Born August 7, 1931, he is buried in Fort Smith National Cemetery, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
  24. Schwaebe, George F. - son of George E. Schwaebe (1903-1982) and Marie H. Thieme Schwaebe (1904-1992), St. Louis, Missouri, student at University of Missouri.  George F. was also survived by his sister Mollyanne Marie (Mrs. William C. Love) (1934-2015).
  25. Smith, David R. - son of Kathleen Phillips, Blanchard, Oklahoma, student at University of Oklahoma
  26. Smith, Gordon Hedley - son of Hedley F. Smith (1898-1977), Tulsa, Oklahoma, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was born March 21, 1933 and is buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  27. Smith, Lee Wayne - son of Laurence M. Smith, Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was born August 22, 1933 and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  28. Smith, Lloyd Mozley - son of Myles Frederick Smith (1890-1986) and Grace Drabek Smith (1896-1986), Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma. Born January 29, 1933, Lloyd was the brother of Mrs. Cleta John (Mary Myles Smith) Rogers.  He is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City.
  29. Stafford, James Collins Jr. - son of James Collins Stafford Sr. (1909-1964) and Ernestine May Stafford (1912-1996), Oklahoma City, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was born February 3, 1933 and is buried in Greenhill Cemetery, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
  30. Starr, Kenneth Ray - son of Eldridge R. Starr, Hobart, Oklahoma, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was born in 1931 and is buried in Hobart Rose Cemetery, Hobart.
  31. Stricklin, Darrell E. - son of O. M. Stricklin, Norman, Oklahoma, student at University of Oklahoma.  He was born April 12, 1933 and is buried in the IOOF Cemetery, Norman.
  32. Russell, Jerald Robin - son of J. A. Russell, Orland, California, student at Oregon State College.  He was born August 24, 1932 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
  33. Sheets, Dennis M. - son of Mrs. Orville V. Sheets, Portland, Oregon, student at University of Oregon
  34. Tracy, Elwood A. - son of Mr. Charles Harrison Tracy (1915-1997) and Mrs. C.H. Tracy, Klamath Falls, Oregon, student at Oregon State College.  His fiancee was Darlene Gortmaker, who later married Gerald Edward Dwight in 1957.  [See Tributes section.]
  35. Wilson, Bowden W. Jr. - son of Bowden W. Wilson, Sr. (1902-1976) and Evelyn Genevieve Conrads Wilson (1899-1976), San Antonio, student at Rice Institute.  Born July 12, 1933, Bowden Jr. is buried in Mission Burial Park South, San Antonio, Texas.  He was a junior in chemical engineering.
  36. Wohn, William W. - son of Bill and Francis J. Wohn, Houston, student at Rice Institute.  The press described him as "pint-sized basketball guard".  He had been on Lamar High School's 1951 championship team and continued to star at Rice.  He planned to make the naval air arm his career.
  37. Wright, Allen L. - Born March 18, 1933, he was the son of Allen P. Wright, Sweetwater, Tennessee.  A student at Rice, he was expected to transfer to Georgia Tech at the beginning of his junior year.  That year Rice had an outstanding basketball team that ended the season at play-offs in Madison Square Garden in New York City.  He is buried in Lynnhurst Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Tributes to the Fatalities and Survivors

Tracy, Elwood A. -

Born in Klamath Falls (Oregon) on July 24, 1932, Elwood Tracy became a scholarship honor student at Klamath Union High School. As a senior majoring in engineering at Oregon State College, he was in the Reserve Officers Training Corp rated as a midshipman. Tracy was taking part in an ROTC summer training course in Florida when he lost his life in the crash of a marine cargo plane. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Whiting Field, near Milton, Fla. He was among 41 reservists and crewmen killed in the crash. He was 20 at the time of his death. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Tracy, of Klamath Falls, were informed of their son's death. He was also survived by two brothers, one sister, and his fiancee, Darlene Gortmaker. He was buried with full military honors at Willamette National Cemetery, Portland. [KWE Note: Source - Klamath County, Oregon website]

Weidler, Jay Benoir Jr.

Jay Benoir Weidler, Jr., 86, of Brenham, Texas on November 17, 2019. He was born May 27, 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Emma Dorothy (Stalker) Weidler and Jay Benoir Weidler, Sr. (b. 3-8-1901; d. 6-22-1969 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

Jay grew up in Philadelphia, attended Central High School (196th graduating class), and left for Rice Institute in Houston, Texas in 1951. He joined the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (N.R.O.T.C.) and tragically was one of the only survivors of a plane crash occurring shortly after midnight on July 17, 1953 in Pensacola, Florida as part of midshipman amphibious training.

After recovering from his injuries at home in Philadelphia, he returned to college for his junior year. He graduated from Rice Institute in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. He then served in the Marine Corps, as an Engineering Officer ending with a rank of First Lieutenant. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1959 and from the reserves in 1964.

He returned to Rice in 1959 for graduate school, earning a Masters in Science in 1961 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1965 in civil engineering, followed by postdoctoral work at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island from 1965 to 1968. He left academia and returned to Houston in 1969 to join Brown & Root, Inc. and rose to Senior Vice President, Chief Marine Engineer and Director of Technology, semi-retiring in 2000, and fully retiring in 2004 after consulting part-time.

Dr. Weidler had over 45 years of engineering experience in the military, academic, and industrial fields. He authored or co-authored 26 technical papers and held five patents. Weidler's accomplishments included the design, fabrication and installation of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which received the ASCE Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award in 1982. In 1995, Jay was the Offshore Technology Conference recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award for Individuals for significant leadership in the application of structural engineering concepts and approaches that allowed the safe and economic development in challenging offshore areas worldwide, including the Gulf of Mexico, North Slope and Cook Inlet, Alaska, and the North Sea. Also in 1995, he was awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers John G. Moffatt-Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award. He was inducted in 1998 to the Offshore Pioneers Hall Fame as a charter member at the Offshore Energy Center in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Weidler was a two-term member of the Rice University Alumni Board, an initial Chairman of Industry Advisory Board for the University of Texas/ Texas A&M University for the establishment of the Offshore Technology Research Center, 1988-1990. Jay was also on the Board of Trustees of the Southwest Research Institute, served as Brown & Root representative to the American Petroleum Institute Committee Two, Committee for Standardization of Offshore Structures and was active on numerous subcommittees, work groups as a member and/ or chairman for over twenty-five years.

Jay married Mary Hughston "Mary Hugh" Patrick in 1961 in Houston, Texas. Jay is survived by: his wife, Mary, his daughters, Teresa Weidler and Julia Hall Weidler; his son and daughter-in-law, John Benoir Weidler and Christine Elizabeth Edwards; his grandchildren, Jodie Olivia Tokumoto; Sean Mareo Tokumoto; Joseph Thomas Weidler; and Elise Catherine Weidler; Jay's younger sister, Phyllis Jane (Weidler) Gilbert; and his three nephews and their wives: Samuel Vanderpoel Gilbert IV (wife Kristine), Jay Benoir Gilbert (wife Marti), and Geoffrey Calderwood Gilbert (wife Jennifer), and their children .

Jay was preceded in death by: his parents, his grandchild, Corinne Elizabeth Weidler; his brother-in-law, Samuel Vanderpoel Gilbert III; his aunts, Phyllis Edith Stalker; Jessie Apoline (Weidler) Oberholtzer; Jane Groff (Weidler) Blizzard; his uncles, Robert Dobson Stalker; William John Stalker, Jr.; Edward Dale Stalker; Joseph Grier Weidler; John Alford Weidler; James Theodore Weidler; Grier Lud Orth Weidler, Jr.; and his grandparents, Grier Lud Orth Weidler, Sr.; Jessie Apoline (Bennor) Weidler; William John Stalker, Sr.; Emma Dorothy (Hall) Stalker; his father-in-law, William Lester Patrick; and mother-in-law, Julia Emma (Taylor) Patrick.

A funeral service at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Brenham, Texas.  Memorial Oaks Chapel – Brenham had charge of arrangements. [Source: Findagrave]



Close this window

2002-2016 Korean War Educator. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of material is prohibited.

- Contact Webmaster with questions or comments related to web site layout.
- Contact Lynnita for Korean War questions or similar informational issues.
- Website address:

Hit Counter