Site of U.S. Army Air Corps Plane Crash

Site of U.S. Army Air Corps Plane Crash (HM1IY3)

Location: Sweetwater, TX 79556 Nolan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 32° 24.951', W 100° 23.344'

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(0.6 Miles East)

At 6:05 A.M. on Friday, April 20, 1945, twenty-five Army Air Corps officers and enlisted men left Midland Army Air Field in a C-47 transport plane en route to Berry Army Air Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The flight crew consisted of the pilot, First Lieutenant James A. Bailey; the co-pilot, Captain John R. Rawls; and the flight engineer, Sergeant William H. Edwards. It was Sergeant Edwards' 36th birthday. Included among the passengers were eight officers and fourteen enlisted men.
     Two Sweetwater cab drivers spotted the plane on fire in mid-air. They notified their dispatcher, who alerted authorities at nearby Avenger Field. A crash landing message came from the plane itself at 6:30 A.M. Another C-47 flying just a few minutes behind the doomed aircraft never encountered a problem. After the crash, parts of the plane were found on a straight line almost two miles from the crash site.
     By 10:00 A.M. most of the bodies of the victims had been recovered from the smoldering wreckage and taken to funeral homes in Abilene and Sweetwater. The soldiers, whose ages ranged from 20 to 37, were buried in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.
     Ten days after the crash, the Army Air Corps Aircraft Accident Classification Board met to determine its cause. It was the opinion of the regional safety officer that the craft had encountered a thunderstorm with only one of its two engines running, putting the plane into a roll. The plane's 4,000 hours of flight time, mainly spent towing gliders, probably caused a weakness in the tail and contributed to its disintegration in severe turbulence.
HM NumberHM1IY3
Marker Number12124
Year Placed2000
Placed ByTexas Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, January 26th, 2015 at 9:01pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)14S E 369385 N 3587379
Decimal Degrees32.41585000, -100.38906667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 32° 24.951', W 100° 23.344'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds32° 24' 57.06" N, 100° 23' 20.64" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)325
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4193-4577 TX-70, Sweetwater TX 79556, US
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