Milligan Memorial Committee for the WWII Fatal Air Crashes

The members of the Milligan Memorial Committee made every effort to write each airman's story as accurately as possible with the information available to them.  It was the committee's goal to put a face and a story with each name that appears on the Nebraska State Historical Markers, while providing historical and factual information to the reader.  It was done with respect and admiration of the airmen and their families. 

October 25, 1943

Two B-24 “Liberators” Crash Near Milligan, 1943

On October 25, 1943, four B-24 “Liberator” bombers from the Fairmont Army Air Field were flying in formation. At approximately 4 p.m., one bomber broke formation and the pilot of a second, as trained, moved toward the vacated position. When the first bomber returned to its position, the two planes collided. At an altitude of 20,000 feet, it was the highest fatal World War II training accident in Nebraska.

 

One bomber crashed in the adjoining farm fields of Frank Hromadka Sr. and Anna Matejka, 2 miles north and ½ mile east of Milligan. The other crashed in the farmyard of Mike and Fred Stech, 3 miles north and 2 miles east of Milligan. Killed were 2nd Lt. James H. Williams, 2nd Lt. William E. Herzog, 2nd Lt. Kenneth S. Ordway, 2nd Lt. Charles L. Brown, 2nd Lt. Clyde H. Frye, Sgt. James H. Bobbitt, Sgt. William D. Watkins, Sgt. William G. Williams, Sgt. Wilbur H. Chamberlin, Sgt. Edward O. Boucher, Sgt. Ursulo Galindo Jr., Sgt. William C. Wilson, Sgt. Albert R. Mogavero, Sgt. Arthur O. Doria, Sgt. Eugene A. Hubbell, F/O Achille P. Augelli, and Pfc. Andrew G. Bivona. The sole survivor was 2nd Lt. Melvin Klein.

 

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library Nebraska State Historical Society, 2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community

May 10, 1944

BT-13B "Valiant" and P-47D "Thunderbolt" Crash, 1944

On May 10, 1944, an instructor pilot and a student pilot were flying a BT-13B "Valiant" aircraft back to the Bruning Army Air Field after a training session. At the same time, a P-47D "Thunderbolt" fighter, whose pilot had been conducting individual training, was returning to the same airfield. Neither pilot was aware of the other aircraft's presence and both planes were far from the airfield control tower. After both aircraft made simultaneous turns, they were suddenly headed directly toward one another at a high rate of speed.

A midair collision occurred at approximately 4,000 feet, causing both aircraft to spiral toward the ground. The BT-13 crashed on the Frank Stych farm, approximately 3 miles west and 2 miles south of Milligan. The P-47 crashed on the Fred and Dorothy Stych farm, approximately 3 miles west and 3 miles south of Milligan. The P-47 pilot, F/O John Dobony, was killed. Both pilots in the BT-13 bailed out. The instructor pilot, 2nd Lt. Frank W. Mrenak, survived, but the student pilot, 1st Lt. William D. Jaeger, lost his life.

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library Nebraska State Historical Society, 2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community

 

September 8, 1944

B-17G “Flying Fortress” and P-47D “Thunderbolt” Crash, 1944

 

On September 8, 1944, P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighters from the Bruning Army Air Field conducted training attack maneuvers with two formations of B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers from the Sioux City Army Air Field. When one P-47 attempted to terminate its mock attack, it collided with the left wing of a B-17, rupturing the bomber’s fuel tank. Both planes exploded.

Most of the B-17 wreckage landed on the Milo Buzek, Dea Baldwin, and Henry Nezda farms, 9 miles south and ¼ mile east of Milligan. The tail section fell on the Lester Krupicka farm. Military officials conducted an extensive search to recover the B-17’s top secret Norden bombsight. The P-47 crashed on the Reinhart Schielke farm, 9 miles south and 1 mile west of Milligan, and its pilot, 2nd Lt. John T. McCarthy, was killed. Of the B-17 crewmen, Cpl. LeNoir A. Greer, Cpl. Walter A. Divan, Pvt. Reuben L. Larson, and Pfc. Albert L. Mikels survived, while 2nd Lt. William F. Washburn, 2nd Lt. Bernard I. Hall, 2nd Lt. Lyle C. Baxmann, F/O George A. Budovsky, Cpl. John E. Tuchols, and Pvt. Henry C. Sedberry lost their lives.

Milligan Memorial Committee/Milligan Public Library Nebraska State Historical Society, 2010 Families of the Crewmen and Friends of the Community

Village of Milligan

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