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A B-29 Crash Site in the U.S.


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I thought I would post a thread of my Grandmother's journey to find the 50 year old crash site of her brother's B-29 in Oklahoma. The crew was killed in the crash.

 

My brother, a journalist who actually took her to Oklahoma and found the site for her and spent a year documenting the crash and the search 50 years later, eventually wrote a 3 part series about the journey and published it.

 

It's an amazing story and very well written. I'll see if I can give a quick synopisis with pictures.

 

Here is the draft my bother wrote...

 

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This story began in the mid 90's when I met a guy on one of the early AOL militaria forums who could obtain USAAF crash records. I was always curious about my Uncle's crash, so I paid him $20, and he produced a 3 document record of he crash. The records is very detailed and very grisly. It contains crash photos, autopsy records, funeral home expense records, and an investigation into the causes of the crash (turns out it was probably a high altitude explosive decompression which led to anoxia of the crew because they weren't wearing oxygen masks).

 

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That's where my brother took over. He was a journalist at the time and his deep curiosity began to kick in. The 50th anniversarry of the crash was also approaching, and my Grandmother expressed an interest in visiting the site. None of my family had ever been to the site, which was in a small town called Talihina, OK.

 

My brother started his quest with a single phone call to the Talihina town hall and asked the woman if she knew anything about a B-29 crash in 1949. As luck would have it, there happened to be an old timer who overheard the woman say "What? A B-52 crash? When?" He took over and my brother's journey took off.

 

In the following months, he received e-mails, letters, and phone calls from all of the good people of Talihina who remembered the crash. He began to piece together the story and became ever more intrigued.

 

He and my Gram bought plane tickets and had no idea if they could ever actually find the crash site.

 

A local Talihina newspaper clipping....

 

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So, my brother and my Gram flew to Talihina where they met one of the many people who helped them. Here is a picture of a guy by the name of Roy Medders. It was on his farm that the plane went down. He remembers seeing it fall from the sky.

 

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My brother had a GPS unit and the grid coordinates from the crash report punched in. But try as they did, they just couldn't located the exact crash site despite hours and hours of searching. Mr. Medders got them close, but they just couldn't find any evidence.

 

My Gram was O.K. with that. She was just happy to be able to lay a wreath in honor of her brother 50 years to the day and time (7 PM) that the B-29 crashed.

 

Here is the farm....

 

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...and a close up of the wreath. It contained pictures of Uncle Tommy's family (he was married with one child and one on the way) and all of his grandkids and nieces and nephews.

 

As a side note, they actually found his wedding ring in the crash debris inscibed to his wife (my Aunt Kay).

 

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The next morning they were having breakfast at a little greasy spoon in Talihina, and my brother signed the restaurant's guest book...Scott Mahar, Adams, MA.

 

They left and planned to head back home. Soon after, a gentleman came in, had his breakfast, and was paying his bill when he noticed the name. He happened to be the guy my brother talked to on the phone who happened to know the exact spot of the crash.

 

He called every hotel in town to find my brother. When he eventually contacted him my brother told him about not finding the spot. This gentleman made plans that day to bring my Gram and brother to the spot so my Gram could finally say good-bye to her brother.

 

They met. They walked to the same farm. And eventually my brother (who is a collector, albeit Civil War) and my Gram came face to face with my Uncle's destiny...the debris field.

 

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That's a very interesting story and what a coincidence,(or maybe provenance) that the guy who knew the exact location of the crash site showed up! Thanks for sharing the story here.

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Great personal story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Bobgee

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Wow, That is a great (but very Tragic) story. It was especially nice that your grandmother was able to make the journey and pay the respects 50 years to the day and the time. The other neat thing was finding the debris of the wreck. Thank you for sharing the photos, items, and story.

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I think God has his hand in the search as well. Seriously, who would could have brought the person who knew the exact site to come in to that same resturant, the same day you all were there, and he took the time to notice a name on the guest log and then remembered the call he had. I think God was allowing you, your grandmother and your family closure on this tragedy.

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