Mid-Air Collision of 12 February 1944 - Mill Creek, Oklahoma
Let us take you back to 12 February 1944, in Mill Creek, Oklahoma for a bit of history.
You can find more information on Our Little Memorial blog that we have put up in conjunction with others to share memorials and special stories of family, friends and loved ones who have died in service for their country in times of war.
We have just added a memorial for Lt. Robert N. Bulloch (25) of Cedar City, Utah, who was co-pilot of B-17G, (42-30481), at the Ardmore Army Air Field during 1944. Lt. Bulloch's aircraft was cut-in-two in a mid-air collision near Mill Creek, Oklahoma, February 12, 1944.
Ten crew-members died at 5:30PM when the aircraft plummeted to earth just north of Mill Creek. One member, Cpl. Joseph (Jack) W. McClanahan, the tail gunner, survived without injury after parachuting from the severed tail section. Other crew-members included Captain William R. Heck, pilot; Lt. Collins O. Gerstner, 24, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Lt. Jack L. Rider, 27, Glendale, California; Captain Oswald L. Bernich, 28, Biloxi, Mississippi; Sgt. Albert F. Franczyk, 20, E. Vandergrift, Pennsylvania; Cpl. Anthony T. Casino, 21, Follansbee, W. Virginia; Sgt. Ray N. Wise, 20, Texarkana, Arkansas; Sgt. Leslie C. Hill, 21. Medford, Oregon and Sgt. John W. Ashba, Jr., 26, Steubenville, Ohio.
The 12 planes, in tight formation, were turning and descending from 14,500 feet when the collision occurred under turbulent air conditions. They had been in the air for four-plus hours and were returning to Ardmore Army Air Field, located approximately 15 miles southwest of Mill Creek.
The other B-17F, (42-30752), though severely damaged, landed safely at Ardmore. None of its crew was injured. Several weeks after the accident, the crew was shipped to England, serving with the 8th Air Force. A few days after arriving, the pilot of the surviving aircraft, Lt. Verne H. Lewis, flying as co-pilot with another crew for experience, was shot down, June 14, 1944, and became a prisoner of war.
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