Saturday, June 28, 2008

Crash landing into the mess hall

My dad's brother, William Bryant Green was four years older and set in motion the family having four sons serving in World War II but was the only one who didn't survive the war. Bryant enlisted in the US Navy in 1927 at age 19 and served on-board the USS Lexington, one of the first aircraft carriers.

I'm not sure if Bryant was aboard the Lexington when it went down on May 8, 1942 in the battle of Coral Sea. I don't know a lot about Bryant's military service. I do know he was discharged before the start of WWII but re-enlisted on December 31, 1941 just a few weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Bryant was killed on February 1, 1943 when he was catching a ride on a Navy bomber flying east out of California. The best I can tell from the Navy records the plane was being ferried east and crashed into the mess hall at the US Army Base - Davis Montham Field in Tucson, AZ. His funeral was held in Perry, FL and my father and his two other brothers who were in the military were allowed to go home for the funeral. The oldest brother, Alton had lost an eye as a boy and was rejected when he tried to enlist in the military. This photo taken at his funeral is the only one of the family.

The report said Bryant's death was apparently instantaneous due to multiple injuries and third degree burns of entire body surface. "Died in Airplane crash, PV 1 Navy Patrol bomber, crashed into Mess Hall at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson. He was a Machinist Mate - US Navy."

From the US Navy Records: AMM William B. Green was on a PV-1 #29830 from NAS San Pedro, CA landing at David Monthan field in Tucson, AZ. The pilot was Lt. Curtis M. Henderson.
"On his first attempted landing during a ferry flight to the east coast he overshot the field and went around again. His next approach was normal until almost on the ground when he began to drift toward a group of parked aircraft. He apparently decided to go around again but as he applied throttle the port engine failed and the aircraft executed a maneuver resembling a wing-over from which it crashed into a mess hall, killing an Army Sergeant besides the pilot and crew member.
Lt. Henderson had previously mentioned to other pilots a pronounced fear of landing the PV-1."

Bryant's only daughter, Virginia Elliott died in 1989 so when I found his concrete grave marker had disintegrated after 50 years I asked the VA to replace it. They shipped it to my brother Ben's house and he took it to the cemetery in Perry, Florida and put it on the grave.

No comments: