A U.S. Army Air Force tragedy occurred on Thursday August 3, 1944 at 8:25 p.m. in the hilly area 7 miles southwest of Naper when an Army C-47 twin motored transport crashed with 28 men aboard during a violent lightenng and rain storm. All on board were killed. A government inspection of the wreckage concluded that the right wing tip, right wing, both horizontal stabilizer surfaces and right engine were torn from the airplane around 1,000 feet above ground.
The balance of the airplane remaining more or less intact and proceeded in direction of flight for another 300 yards horizontal distance before impact (apparently inverted) with the ground, where subsequent fire destroyed remaining portions with the exception of the left wing and left engine.
The plane crashed on the Connie Sattler farm in a gulley about 8 feet deep, after skidding and bouncing along the ground down a rough slope for nearly a half a mile. Parts of the plane were scattered along the way. The transport was from the Bruning, Nebraska air base and was on its way to the base at Pierre, S. Dakota to allow the men to attend gunnery school.
By the time Con Sattler, son of Connie Jr., and Mrs. Helen Durham reached the wrecked plane, everything was in flames, although it was raining hard. The green grass was burning about the plane, which gave evidence that much gasoline had been spilled about the plane either in the crash or the explosion. There was no evidence of life among the bodies. Mr.
Sattler succeeded in putting the flames out around two bodies, using a parachute to fight the flames. The plane burned for about three hours after the crash.
The plane was scattered for a distance of about three-quarters of a mile. A large portion of one wing fell in a field about a half mile northwest of the SattIer farm yard. From there in a northwesterly direction and down the rough slope there was a motor about a quarter of a mile from the wing. A short distance from the motor was a propeller, one blade stuck in the ground. One of the landing gears was some distance west from there and other parts of metal on down to the main body of the plane. It appears that the plane struck the ground some distance below the crest of the slope and then 'bounced along the ground.
The sheriff and states attorney of Boyd County took charge of affairs and deputized the farmers and others to keep peopIe away until army authorities arrived. These came within several hours from Bruning, Ainsworth and Pierre; and on Friday the bodies of the men were removed from the wreckage. Connie Sattler brought them out of the gulley with a team and wagon two at a time. All were removed late Friday afternoon and identified. Army crews completed the recovery and removal of the plane wreckage Sunday afternoon.
The Sattler family erected a wooden cross on the site of the crash. It stood for decades until it was replaced by a metal cross (see photo). Sixty years after the crash the Naper Historical Society erected a beautiful stone memorial at Knollcrest Cemetery, along with three large flagpoles, one each for the American flag, the Nebraska State flag, and a Naper 28 flag. A dedication ceremony was held on August 8, 2004 attended by hundreds of area residents and many family
members of the deceased airmen.
Naper 28 in Pictures
The 28 men who lost their lives in this horrific crash.
Capt. Robert K. Bohle of Claremont, South Dakota.
2d Lt. Herbert A. Blakeslee, Eddyville Nebraska
2nd Lt. William F. Acree, Fairbury, Nebraska
Capt. Stanley J. Meadows, Grimes, Iowa
Lts. Clayton R. Jolley, Del Rey, California *(twins)
I Leonard C. Jolley, Del Rey, California *(twins)
Capt. Leslie B. Roberts, Brooklyn, New York
1 Lt. Lloyd L. Hemphill, Joplin, Missouri
2nd Lt. Bruce S. Patterson, Cleveland, 0hio
2nd Lt. DonaId J. Clarkson, Kansas City, Missouri
2nd Lt. Richard E. Brown, San Leandro, California
2nd Lt. Jack E. Lytle, Morton, Texas
2nd Lt. William C. Armstrong, Mineral, Illinois
2nd Lt. George E. Boeckmann, Charlotte, North Carolina
2nd Lt. Jack L. Brown, Milwaukee, Oregon
2nd Lt. James C. Burke, Jr., Milton, Massachusetts
2nd Lt. Robert E. Nesbitt, Chicago, Illinois
2nd Lt. Charles V. Porter, Pros per, Texas
2nd Lt. Millard F. Arnett, Jr., Short Fairmont, West Virginia
2nd Lt. Lavon Sehorn, Kalmath Falls, Oregon
2nd Lt. Arthur Johnson, San Diego, California
2nd Lt. Gerald C. Keller, Middletown, Maryland
2nd Lt. Anthony Paladino, Los Angeles, California
2nd Lt. Pat N. Roberts, Jr., McKinney, Texas
2nd Lt. Bernard W. O'Malley, Little Rock, Arkansas
2nd Lt. Lelan A. Pope, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Flight Officer John F. Albert, Chicago, Illinois
Sgt. Orson H. Hutslar, Springfield, Ohio