Marker for WWII plane crash site will arrive soonPublished 12:17pm Tuesday, June 17, 2014
A Hartselle man’s dream to mark the spot where eight U.S. airmen perished in a fiery B52-C plane crash in Morgan County during World War II is taking flight.
At a date yet to be decided, a permanent historic marker will be installed alongside Alabama 157 at the foot of Battleground Mountain. The crash occurred on April 9, 1944, about one-half mile east of that location.
The marker was ordered by the Alabama Department of Tourism several weeks ago, according to Hartselle historian Lee Y. Greene, and is expected to arrive from a foundry soon. The date and time of a dedication ceremony will be announced.
The tragic accident, which occurred during a severe thunderstorm and is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike, was witnessed by a number of local residents but had become lost in obscurity until Dr. Herman Stringer of Hartselle launched an information search about a year ago.
He reported his findings and made a plea for a marker to be placed in memory of the crash victims in a story that was published in the Nov. 19, 2013, edition of the Hartselle Enquirer.
From his research, visits to the crash site and conversations with witnesses, Stringer filled two notebooks binders with pertinent information ad photographs related to the accident, including a copy of the official U.S. Air Force accident report.
“Every time I’ve been on the crash site, I’ve had the feeling that I was standing in a graveyard that has been forgotten,” Stringer said. “It saddens me that these WWI heroes have been forgotten when markers have been placed at other historic locations in this area.”
Stringer’s appeal reached receptive ears and soon had the support of elected officials, veteran’s organizations and families who live in southwest Morgan County and northwest Cullman County.
Another interesting aspect of the story took root when Michele Jackson, a local genealogist, got involved. She was able to establish contact with relatives of at least two of the officers who lost their lives in the accident.
They are Kathy Wilder, granddaughter of Col. Lucius B. Manning and Ellen Williams Matthews. daughter of 1st Lt. Hugh C. Williams. Both indicated an interest in attending the dedication ceremony.