COLUMN: ‘Katy-Did’ crashPublished 2:00pm Wednesday, February 19, 2014
As a newspaper reporter, I’m constantly looking for something worthwhile to write about. Usually, I don’t have to wait long before something interesting pops up.
That was the case a few days ago when I first met Dr. Herman Stringer, a Hartselle resident, Eva native, retired Marine and passionate aviation history buff.
“Do you know about the crash of a B-26 bomber in Morgan County in 1944 that killed eight Army Air Force officers and enlisted men,” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Then, I have information you might be interested in writing a story about,” he said.
For the next 30 minutes, Stringer related the tragic story of how “The Katy-Did” ran into trouble in a severe thunderstorm, spun out of control and crashed in a field near Alabama 157 and Parker’s Gap, killing all of its crewmen and passengers.
He also produced two notebook binders filled with official investigation reports, eyewitness accounts, photos of the crash site and other pertinent information.
The plane was on an official mission from Hunter Field in Savannah, Ga. to Memphis, Tenn. It was observed by several eyewitnesses while flying in a thunder storm at a low altitude before veering out of control and crashing.
Stringer was motivated to conduct a nine-month research of the ill-fated accident because of his respect and admiration for American military heroes and his desire to have a historic marker placed in memory of those eight airmen who died near Parker’s Gap on April 9, 1944.
“Every time I’ve visited the crash site, I’ve had the feeling that I’m walking in a graveyard that has been forgotten.” Stringer stated. “A marker placed on Highway 157 near the crash site would ensure that doesn’t happen.”
To my knowledge, this air disaster is the worst Morgan County has witnessed in over a half century. It also has special significance since it occurred during wartime and resulted in the loss of eight American heroes, one of whom was the commanding officer at Hunter Field in Savannah, Ga.
Good luck to Dr. Stringer in finding the support that’s needed to have a permanent marker installed in their memory.
Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.