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Airplane Crashes

A number of crashes involving United States military planes and airliners occurred during the Korean War era of 1950-1954. Visitors to the Korean War Educator are encouraged to view the text of already existing crash reports and stories, as well as add to the page with news of other crashes associated with active duty United States military personnel at the time. The crashes may relate to incidents large and small and will be posted by date of crash/loss. Readers interested in B-29 crashes can view them on the KWE's B-29 Topics page.  To add information and/or photographs about military aircraft accidents 1950-1954, contact Lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org.


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Mike Stowe's Accident-Report.com provides information about how to purchase copies of accident reports and photographs relating to military aviation incidents over several decades.  Mike generously supplied to the Korean War Educator a list of aircraft accidents that occurred during the Korean War era.  Click below to view the list.

Aircraft Incidents - Korean War Era

Contact information for Accident Reports is: Accident Reports, 1322 W. Main Street, Millville, NJ 08332.  E-mail: accireport@msn.com.

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November 18, 1951 - Yokota Air Base

A B-29 type aircraft from the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Wing (M), Fifth Air Force, crashed while taking off on an operational mission with a full complement of bombs.  The aircraft had a maximum load of 500 pound demolition bombs and gasoline when it lost power.  After an unsuccessful attempt was made to stop, the aircraft crashed at the end of the runway and burst into flame.

The aircraft commander was Captain John P. Brennan, USAF.  After he left the burning aircraft, he noticed two crew members, apparently in a state of shock, standing at the aircraft amidst burning gasoline and exploding machine gun shells.  Although Captain Brennan knew the fuses of the bombs were of a delicate nature and would explode at any moment, he immediately rushed back and guided the crew members to safety.  Shortly thereafter, the first of a series of four explosions occurred, and Captain Brennan was struck in the ankles.  When he observed another crew member near the aircraft, Captain Brennan, once again disregarding his own well being, made an immediate rescue.  He received the Soldier's Medal for heroism.

Airman Third Class Herman Breeding, Jr., USAF, also received the Soldier's Medal for his heroic actions while serving with a crash rescue crew from the 6161st Air Installations Squadron, Yokota Air Base.  After rushing to the scene of the above mentioned crash, and in spite of his awareness of the danger of an explosion of high octane fuel and bombs, Airman Breeding attempted to enter the burning aircraft to remove crew members whom he believed were trapped in the wreckage.

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B-29 Crash, Kadena, Okinawa, January 30, 1952

There was one fatality in a B-29 crash that occurred at Kadena, Okinawa, on January 30, 1952.  The details of this accident are available on the Korean War Educator.
View information about this crash.

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Robinson Crusoe of Schinz-do, May 1952

A lengthy story about the ordeal of Albert W. Schinz can be found in Volume 33, Issue No. 4, July 28, 1952, pp. 95-96, 98, 101-102, 104, and 107 of LIFE magazine. The article is entitled, “Robinson Crusoe of Schinz-do.” Colonel Schinz survived 37 days on a North Korean island after his F-86 Sabre jet was shot down over MIG Alley on May 1, 1952.

Schinz ejected from the plane before it crashed into the sea. He was faced with the problems of exhaustion, damp clothing, a broken radio, lack of food, and a 37-day lone existence on the island before he was rescued.

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Globemaster Crash, December 1952 (Larson Air Field)

View information about this crash.

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Globemaster Crash, June 1953 (Tachikawa, Japan)

View information about this crash.

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Globemaster Crash, February 1957 (Kimpo/Han River)

View information about this crash.

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Unknown Fate of Three Cape Cod

View information about this incident.

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B-29 Bomber, 30 December 1952

Source: Rensselaer County [NY] Heroes Korean War 1950-1953: The Forgotten Remembered compiled by Ken Page.

"Rudolph Nikles, son of Herman Nikles and Theresa Shanta, resided on 4th Avenue in Troy and attended Lansingburgh High School. Rudolph's uncle and aunt were Rudolph J. and Freda P. Niles. He entered the Air Force in August 1951 at 18 years of age. Airman First Class Nikles was with the 19th Bomber Group, 28th Bomber Squadron. Airman First Class Nikles was the left Gunner on a B-29 Medium Bomber. On 30 December 1952 his squadron attacked an ore processing plant in North Korea northwest of Pyongyang when they were attacked by enemy fighters. Nikles' plane bombed the target and turned southward, still under enemy attack. The final radio transmission from the plane stated "crew bailing out." Two minutes later the plane was observed crashing about 25 miles north of Pyongyang. A Marine pilot heard the bailout order and two minutes later observed the aircraft crash about 25 miles north of Pyongyang. Five of the twelve crew members survived and were repatriated during "Big Switch." A1C Nikles was listed as missing in action and presumed dead on December 31, 1953. Military awards included the Air Medal, Purple Heart, National Defense Service, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation. A1C Nikles' name appears on the Honor Court, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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C-54 Skymaster Crash, September 19, 1950

View information about this crash.

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B-29s Collide - March 12, 1952

[KWE Note: The following information about this collision of B-29s came from Richard Kebabjian of www.planecrashinfo.com.  The KWE was notified about the fact there was such a crash by Roy Emberland of Thousand Oaks, California, who told us, "Dave Streett and I belonged to Lt. Johnson's crew (one of the crews killed) but we did not fly that training mission."]

Corpus Christi Times, Thursday, March 13, 1952

Collision of B-29s Kills 15 Crewman

San Antonio - Two B-29 Superfortresses whose pilots couldn't see where they were going while flying on instruments collided and carried 15 crewmen to their deaths in the hills of South Texas yesterday.  One bomber plunged to earth and shattered--scattering fragments and bodies over a five-mile area.  The other glided down several miles away, exploded and burned.

Training Mission

The planes were on training flights from Randolph Air Force Base here.  They were being flown mechanically and the pilot's cabins were blacked out, according to Lt. Bill Adams, public information officer at the base.  One plane carried seven men and the other eight, the Air Force Base said.  The shattered plane crashed on a hilltop near the Gus Krause ranch.  The other glided down near a small landing strip on the ranch of J.W. Heard, San Antonio oil man.

D.D. McDonald, superintendent of a ranch, said he saw the planes flying in formation.  He gave this account:  "Suddenly one crossed over and apparently clipped the tail section from the other plane.  One plane went down and the other kept on flying on a level keal, with good altitude as if undamaged.  No one jumped.  The plane came in low over a windmill on the Heard ranch, just barely missing it.  Suddenly the left wing dropped and went into the ground.  The right wing cut off a huge tree.  The plane plowed several hundred feet and the four motors were found on a hilltop several hundred feet away."

Heard Explosion

Chester Krause, son of the ranch owner, told this story:  "I heard a big explosion and dashed out and saw a fire going.  I ran up the hill about a half a mile away where the crash occurred.  There wasn't any indication that anybody was alive.  In a little while I talked to Albert Opperman who works on the Julius Brehemer Ranch.  He told me that he saw the two planes flying close together and that one of them struck the tail end of the other, tearing off the end of the plane.  This one crashed on our ranch and the other one went on flying away, like nothing happened.  It was only a matter of a couple of minutes before we heard it hit the ground.  There was a big explosion there."

Randolph first reported that a B-26 bomber sighted the wreckage of one plane.  It was several hours later before the base confirmed that two planes had collided.  The crash occurred about noon 19 miles south of here in a rugged ranch country studded with cedar and live oak trees.

A special investigating board was reported flying to Randolph from San Bernadino, California.  Jack Nolen, who lives nearby, reported finding a paper-back book with most of the pages burned away but with the title intact.  It read: "I Want a Big Funeral."

Partial List of Dead in Bomber Crash

San Antonio - March 13 (AP)

Air Force officials early today announced names and addresses of eight of 15 victims killed yesterday when two B-29 bombers collided during training flights near here.  [KWE Note: This news article was sent by e-mail and was very difficult to read.  It is possible that some name spellings and ages might be incorrect.]  Killed in one of the planes were:

  • Capt. Donald L. Rottler, 36, of San Antonio
  • 1st Lt. Robert D. Neu, 33, of San Antonio, student plane commander
  • M-Sgt. Ward W. Havis, 35, of Shertz, Texas
  • M-Sgt. Harwell B. Meyers, 29, of Randolph AFB
  • Pfc. Arthur L. Hall, 22, of Shertz, Texas
  • Lt. Moses O. Seals, 31, of Fresno, California

Maj. Robert Wells Padgett
(Click pic for a larger view)

Identities of the instructor gunner and a student gunner on the plane were expected to be announced shortly.

Identified dead in the second plane included:

  • 1st Lt. Lester H. Johnson, 29, of New Braunfels
  • 1st Lt. Dale Scott, 32, of San Antonio
  • M-Sgt. G.L. Arnold, 31, of Randolph AFB
  • Maj. Robert Wells Padgett, 30, of Atlanta, GA ------>
  • E.J. Jameson, 39, of Pottstown, PA

Identities of the student airplane commander, instructor-gunner and two student gunners aboard the second plane were not yet distributed.  The Air Force said notification of next of kin was being made on the basis of the list of men presumed to be onboard the plane.

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B-29 Superfortress Bomber Crash, January 11, 1951

A B-29 Superfortress bomber crashed near Seguin, Texas, on January 11, 1951.  The plane was returning to Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.  Six of the crew members were killed, while five other men parachuted to safety.  The following information from a Times Union newspaper article (January 12, 1951) about the crash was sent to the KWE by Art Lajeunesse of Latham, New York.

"A B-29 Superfortress--groping through an overcast--crashed in flames last night, killing six men.  Five other men aboard parachuted to safety.  Only one of the five was injured.

Capt. Norman A. Bivens, 27, of Los Angeles, the pilot, said the plane was returning to Randolph Air Force Base from a seven-hour training flight.  He said at 8,000 feet he cut off the automatic pilot and began flying on instrument as he started to let down through the overcast.

"Suddenly my flight instruments went out," he said.  "I couldn't reach my mike so I hit the emergency bell and released cabin pressure in the navigator's compartment enabling the men down there to get out.  I locked the emergency bell down and went out the nose wheel door." 

The plane crashed 10 miles southwest of  Sequin.  Randolph base is some 18 miles from San Antonio, TX."

The men killed were:

  • Capt. Leonard H. Calkins, 47, navigator, San Antonio.  Born 1904.  Service Number AO501894.
  • 1LT Robert L. Wilson, 34, co-pilot, Bellflower, CA.  Born 1917.  Service Number AO754453.
  • 2LT James E. Shaw, 21, radio observer, San Antonio.  Born 1930.  Service Number AO1911515.
  • S/SGT Roderick A. Howey, 25, central fire control gunner, Los Angeles.  Born 1926.  Service Number AF15344219.
  • CPL Ernest Bennett, 24, right gunner, survived by his mother, Mrs. Floyd Bennett, Paris, TN.  Born 1927.  Service Number AF14276000.
  • CPL Donald J. Cameron, 22, tail gunner, survived by his mother, Mrs. Clara Cameron, Chicago.  Born 1929.  Service Number AF16303056.

Besides Bivens, those who parachuted safely were:

  • Capt. Howard E. Arp, 32, bombardier, Albuquerque, NM
  • CPL Ralph T. Schwarz, 27, radio operator, Charleston, SC
  • Capt. Otho V. Kintner, 33, navigator, Fort Worth, TX,  Kintner's back was slightly injured.
  • S/SGT James J. Barns, 32, flight engineer, Searcy, AR

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B-29 Superfortress Bomber Crash, Tripoli, Lybia, February 2, 1953

A B-29 Superfortress bomber with the 301st Bomber Squadron, 352nd Bomber Wing based in Upper Hayford Air Base, England, crashed after taking off from Wheelus Field, Tripoli, Lybia on February 2, 1953.  The plane was taking off on a training mission.  Cause of the crash was not immediately determined.  Fifteen crew members were killed.  Fourteen of them were from the 301st Bomber Wing, formerly stationed at Barksdale AFB and temporarily assigned to duty in England.  The list of crash fatalities was sent to the KWE by Art Lajeunesse of New York.

  • Capt. Charles Wayne Eley, Commander of the Aircraft.  He was born in Bossier Parish, Louisiana on November 18, 1918.  Service Number AO760606.  His wife was Rose Marie Eley (1920-2016).  The couple is buried in DeAnn Cemetery, Prescott, Arizona.
  • 1LT Lonzo Preston Armstrong, Pilot - Bossier City, Louisiana.  Born April 21, 1926, he was a son of John S. Armstrong (1899-1990) and Hazel E. Dunham Armstrong (1898-1985).  His sibling was Milton L. Armstrong (1932-2017).  Service Number 21552A.  Lonzo is buried in Highland Cemetery, Okemah, Oklahoma.
  • 1LT Daniel D. Corvelli, Navigator - Bossier City, LA.  His wife was Betty Gene Corvelli.
  • 1LT John T. Hackbarth, Bombardier - Bossier City, LA
  • M/SGT William H. Grant, Medical/specialist - Bossier City, LA
  • A1C James A. Yuvan, Gunner - Hutchinson, PA.  James was born August 27, 1932, son of Frank Yuvan (1915-1974) and Dorothy Jane Roebuck Yuvan (1915-2009). James is buried in West Newton Cemetery, West Newton, Pennsylvania.
  • 2LT Frederick Young, Radio observer [KWE research: He is buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover, New Jersey]  He was the son of William Frank Young, New Jersey.
  • T/SGT David W. Bolstad, Aero/Medical Specialist [KWE research: Born October 30, 1930, he is buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.] [Findagrave: He was a son of Otto D. Bolstad (1901-1989) and stepson of Helen Agnes Moser Falkenberg Bolstad (1906-1992).  His siblings included Dan Bolstad, Helen Bolstad Campbell, Jean Bolstad Cassins, Ralph Bolstad, Lois Bolstad Olson, Joan Bolstad Ward, and one more sister (deceased).]
  • Airman Frank James Lovvorn, Radio operator [KWE research: Airman Lovvorn was born April 05, 1930 and is buried in Gethsemane Cemetery and Crematory, Detroit, Michigan]
  • A/1C Donald V. Wilson, Gunner [Findagrave: Born in 1929 in Fulton, Missouri, he was a son of Allie B. Wilson (1896-1972) and Anna Gertrude Simms Wilson (1896-1971).  His siblings were Arthur James Wilson (1921-1968), Helen Wilson Tyree, Faye Wilson Bell, and Norman Wilson.  Donald is buried in Callaway Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum, Fulton, Missouri.]
  • A/1C Talmadge L. Kloster, Gunner [KWE research: Airman Kloster was born May 02, 1929 in Clearwater County, Minnesota, a son of Jacob N. Kloster (1894-1989) and Gertrude Kloster (1901-1997).  His siblings were Orvis Neil (1924-2004), Morris O. (1926-1991) and Donald Larry (1944-2012).  Talmadge is buried in Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery, Fosston, Minnesota.]
  • A/1C James Clark McDowell, Passenger [KWE research: James was born January 26, 1933 and is buried in Park Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut.]  He was the son of Willard A. McDowell (1904-1971) and Lillian A. McDowell (1912-2006).
  • S/SGT Frederick Joe Jones, Passenger [KWE research: Frederick was born April 10, 1925 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery Poteau, Oklahoma.]  His wife was Hazel Jones.
  • Airman Harold D. Bellotte, Passenger [KWE research provided by Shannon M. Sakshaug via Findagrave: Harold David Bellotte was born on April 25, 1932, son of William David Bellotte (1889-1935) and Eula Lee Colson Bellotte (1893-1935).  His sibling was Euna Kathalene Bellotte (1924-1931).  Harold is buried in Orange Hill Cemetery, Williston, Florida.
  • Airman Ray Oden Willis, Passenger [KWE research: Ray was born September 2, 1931, son of Dexter Oden Willis (1891-1973) and Marie Munch Willis (1899-1951).  A 1950 graduate of Norview High School in Norfolk, Ray is buried in Riverside Memorial lPark, Norfolk, Virginia.]

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B-29 Superfortress Bomber Crash, Terceira Island, Azores, March 29, 1953

This B-29 was with the 375th Bomber Squadron, 308th Bomber Wing stationed at Hunter AFB, Georgia.  On March 29, 1953, the B-29 departed from Lajes Field, Azores en route to Hunter AFB.  Shortly after take off it crashed near Praia, Terceira Island, Azores, killing six airmen.  Listed below are the six that died in the crash.

  • Abcock, Major Hugh S. Jr. - CO of the 375th Bomber Squadron.  Major Abcock was from St. Petersburg, Florida.  Born in 1916, he was a veteran of World War II.  Service Number AO-433443.
  • Bowen, Capt. Louis Carl - CO of B-29.  He was from Atlanta, Georgia.  Service Number AO-817622.
  • Cherry, A/1C Jimmie R. - radio operator.  He was from Blue Lake, California.  Service Number AF19364210.
  • Daniel, T/Sgt. Issac M. - flight engineer.  He was from Macon, Georgia.  Service Number AF14254655.
  • Devlin, S/Sgt. Wilmer R. - passenger.  He was from Stanaford, West Virginia.  Service Number AF14364613.
  • Wallace, 1LT Roy Wesley - navigator.  He was from Portland, Oregon.  Service Number AO-1912300.

According to the Times Union newspaper (March 3, 1953), the seriously injured crew members were as follows:

  • 1LT William R. Sundermann, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1LT William J. Pederson, Oakland, CA
  • A2C Fred W. Maschner, Evansville, IN
  • A1C Charles M. Caillouett Jr., San Antonio, TX
  • A2C Daniel lL. Browder, Sibley, IA

The newspaper listed the not-seriously-injured as:

  • 1LT Thomas W. Minter, Chicago, IL
  • SSgt. Yulee Mickler, Jacksonville, FL
  • A2C Arthur L. Turk, Jr., Tifton, GA
  • A2C James F. Locklin, Franklin, MA

Information submitted to the KWE by Art Lajeunesse of Latham, NY.

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P2V Neptune, January 21, 1954, Oahu, Hawaii

View information about this crash. (PDF File)

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Cheje-Do Island Crash, May 24, 1954

The KWE is seeking information about this crash.  The crash occurred on 24 May 1954 and involved a plane from the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron from Kimpo.

F-86H Crash, August 25, 1954, LaQuinta, California

View information about this crash here.

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Huey Crash, November 27, 1968

CWO2 Julius Harold "Harry" Ingram was in the 6th Aviation Platoon in Korea.  On November 27, 1968 while on a mission and commander of a Huey helicopter, the copter and its crew disappeared off the coast of Kangnung. He was first listed as 'missing' for several weeks. In early January 1969, he was 'declared dead.' Apparently this was based on the recovery by Korean fisherman of a helicopter part with a matching number. I have no idea if other people's next of kin were given the same info as me or if any remains of their loved one were recovered or not. No remains of Harry were ever recovered, or if they were, I was not told (and I was his widow).

Newspaper article one week before crash.
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One concern I have is that apparently they are making some effort to recover and identify remains of our servicemen who died now. Harry's brother, Randy Ingram, has agreed to give a sample of blood for the DNA test project. I know it is a real long shot, but without it remains probably could not be identified at this point. They apparently did crash in the Sea of Japan.

Another concern is the cause of the crash.  Was it ever established?  Hostilities were going on, weather was described as 'marginal', and I think Harry was training a new pilot to the country (Lt Griggs), who was actually flying. Harry was due to come home in about three weeks.

Also, I would like to contact Marsha E. Brown, who posted on the Korean War Project website in March 2001 about this crash. She is the sister of Gary A. Holz, who died in the crash also. She seemed to know even less than me. Her phone number and email are no longer good.

Another thing I have noticed is that this crash is not listed in the defense site on missing planes, etc. http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/family_support_info/file_reviews.htm.  I thought, well, maybe because they were believed to have gone down in the Sea of Japan.  But then I see several others who went down in the Sea of Japan. So, I wonder, do they know more than they told me?  I saw on the site where you can request a 'file review' and wonder if I should.

We had a house fire six years ago while in the middle of a move. A lot of the Korean papers connected with this--telegrams, letters, tapes--burned. However, I just plowed through several old boxes that were in the other house, and found a bunch of his letters and a lot of slides.

Newspaper article about crash.
(Click picture for a larger view)

I mainly want to know a cause if it is known, any details really, and equally important is to be able to identify and have returned any remains they may be found. Harry has a 'in memory of' marker in Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. I also want to know if any remains of any of the five people onboard have been recovered and identified.

My research shows those who died:

  • Terence D. Miller, b 1948 d Nov 27, 1968 Korea of Non-Hostile reasons. Spec 4th class, US Army. Likely the one in the SS Index as last living in Virginia, applied for SS # in MN.
  • Gary A. Holz, b 1949 d Nov 27, 1968, Spec 4, Door Gunner, listed as PFC one place and Spec 4 another. From Madison, Alabama. Sister Marsha E. Brown. Not listed on SS Index.
  • Julius Harold Ingram, CWO 6th Aviation Platoon, I Corps, US Army, b Jan 13, 1948, d Nov 27, 1968 Korea. Listed as Commander. Died from Non-Hostile reasons.
  • William L. Smith, Lt. Col. Field Artillery, Active Duty Army, b. 1921, d Nov 27, 1968, Korea, Passenger. SS Index probable last lived Kentucky. Died non-hostile causes.
  • Richard J. Griggs, Lt., listed as "Battle Dead" no place listed d Nov 27, 1968, pilot/operator

This information came from ancestry.com's US Army Personnel and Dependent Casualties, 1961-1081 Record.  It is also real interesting that this data base has them listed as non-hostile (except for one--Lt Griggs, listed as battle dead).  I was never told that they knew whether it was or not.

I never thought about all this info being on the internet. My husband is searching his Army buddies and kept telling me Harry isn't listed here, he isn't listed there, etc. So, I started looking around and realized that I really should know more than I do.

Thanks for any help or advice.

Submitted by Mary Ann Tatum Ingram Nichols.  E-mail nichols5555@aol.com,

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Links of Interest

The following links to websites that provide information about airplane crashes, wrecks, casualties, and fatalities was supplied to the KWE courtesy of Ed Moynagh and Ray Sestak.


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