This page is dedicated to the heroes who died while defending this great country
This photo, taken by Tom Hildreth, shows B-52C #54-2666 on the ramp at Westover, circa middle-1960s.
This aircraft later crashed into Lake Michigan Jan. 7, 1971, while on a training mission, with nine
members of the 346th Bombardment Squadron aboard.
B-52C crashes into Lake Michigan, Jan. 7, 1971
Nine 346th Bombardment Squadron airmen died when their B-52C Stratofortress
plunged into Lake Michigan on Jan. 7, 1971. This accident took place near Charlevoix,
Mich. The crew was flying a routine training mission. The B-52 was unarmed.
The crew was:
- Lt. Col. William Lemmon, navigator
- Maj. Gerald Black, pilot
- Maj, Donald Rousseau, electronic warfare officer
- Maj. John Simonly, navigator instructor
- Capt. Joel Hirsch, navigator
- Capt John Weaver, navigator,
- Lt. Douglas Bachman, electronic warfare officer
- Lt. Dennis Ferguson, co-pilot
- Tech. Sgt. Gerry Achey, gunner
Source: Military Aircraft Accidents Around Western Massachusetts 1941-, by Thomas E. Martin
This photo, taken by Al Aldrich from Westover, shows the memorial for the airmen killed in May 1944. The B-24
Liberator crashed into nearby Mt. Holyoke.
My father .... was the only member of the aircrew that did not survive the crash. While I was
fairly young at the time, I do recall that the plane came down during a rain storm approximately
1 mile short of the runway in Belchertown, near Routes 202 & 10.
My Dad was a proud Airman, a boom operator, who made no bones about the fact that it was
USAF first and family second. My Mom supported him in that position and after the crash she
raised myself and my 2 sisters by herself for many years. The one bright spot was the constant
visits from my Dad's squadron. They came down to Connecticut to visit us and bring Christmas
presents and such for several years after the accident.
Since there was/is so little information available on the crash I'd found myself wondering if the
flight was on some kind of classified mission and that whatever the actual purpose was,
needed to remain in military hands. Perhaps a bit of left over Cold War mentality on my part!!
His crew was "Crew of the Month" in May 1963.
Thank you for setting up and maintaining the website. I find it very nostalgic....it brings back
lots of memories.
Webmaster's note: I recently received an e-mal from Dana Donahue, whose father, MSgt
Daniel F. Donahue, was a boom operator with the 99th Air Refueling Squadron. Sergeant
Donahue was killed in a KC-135 crash while bravely serving his country on June 21, 1963.
Below are excerpts from the e-mail. Photo below shows the monument at Westover that is
dedicated to MSgt Donahue and many other SAC Airmen,
B-52C crash, Elephant Mountain, Maine -- photos contributed by Derek Ouimette
Derek Ouimette, a senior master sergeant
in the Air Force Reserve at Westover, sent
me these photos he took up on Elephant
Mountain. A Westover B-52C Stratofortress
crashed into the mountain on Jan. 24,
1963. All but two of the aircrew were killed
in the accident. The two survivors, Lt. Col.
Dante Bulli and Capt. Gerald Adler,
managed to survive through the night using
their parachutes to shield them from the
sub-freezing Maine winter. A rescue crew
from Dow Air Force Base near Bangor,
found the aircrew the day after the crash.
Click on the thumbnails to see what a few
dedicated people have done since that time
to memorialize these brave men.
Larry Wallman sent me this photo of the memorial which honors the crew killed in the 1971 B-52
crash in Lake Michigan.
KC-135 crash, June 21, 1963
|ON THE ELLIPSE -- I shot this in July 2009 of the memorial to members of the 499th Air Refueling Wing who lost
their lives in the line of duty. In the background to the right is the KC-135A model, a replica of 56-3637. This aircraft
was one of two which broke the speed record in June 1958 during Operation Topsail. On the plaque are names of
some of the crew who died in the early morning hours of June 27, 1958, when a third KC-135, 56-3599, crashed
after takeoff from Westover. Those Air Force crew members included Lt. Col. George Broutsas, 99th Air Refueling
Squadron commander; Capt. James Shipman, KC-135 pilot; 1st Lt. Joe Sweet, pilot; and TSgt. Joseph Hutter,
boom operator. Other crew members on this plaque include Maj. Charles Mellinger, a KC-97 aircraft commander
who died in a 1957 crash in the tanker near Griffiss AFB, N.Y., and MSgt. Daniel Donahue (his son, Dana pointed
out the error with his dad's first name), who was the sole crewmember that did not survive the crash of a KC-135
near Westover in June 1963. Christopher Doyle, an Air Force reserve senior master sergeant, led the effort to move
this plaque and place it at the Base Ellipse. It is one of the few remaining known artifacts of Westover's heyday as a
major SAC installation.