|Lockheed T-33 Public Domain Photo|
I searched a number of sources for T-33 crashes in the early to mid-1960s before I stumbled upon this link. Contained therein was another part of the story I had set out to discover. Here's a synopsis of what I found there.
|Major William C. Smith, USAF|
West Point Class of '49
William Cremin Smith, son of Bernard J. and Elenore Cremin Smith, was born in Chicago, IL. on the 16th of August, 1926.
After graduating from high school in 1944 he joined the Navy and served in the Navy until gaining an appointment to West Point in 1945.
Upon graduation from West Point in 1949, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
He was assigned to flight training at Bainbridge AFB in Bainbridge, GA, and later Vance AFB in Enid, OK, where he received his wings.
He had a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
While assigned to USAF Systems Command at Hanscom Field in Bedford MA., he and his wife lived in Lexington, MA.
On 19 August 1964, he and another West Point graduate were flying over Vermont when their Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star crashed outside of Springfield. Both pilots were killed.
Major Smith's twisted wedding ring was recovered from the crash site and returned to his wife; his West Point ring was never recovered.
Major Smith was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after a full military funeral on 27 Aug 1964. On the same day, relatives and friends attended a memorial mass at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Oak Park. (Source)
I shall have to stop by the Major's final resting place the next time I go to Arlington, to pay my respects.
I was eleven years old when this crash occurred. It was summer, just like I remembered.
I tried the National Transportation and Safety Board's website, but they have no data (that I could find) for 1964. I'm sure there is a dusty archive somewhere in DC which has that report, but it hasn't been computerized yet. Who knows if it ever will be?
There were a couple of other aircraft "incident" databases online, but again, information before the computer age really began is either sketchy or non-existent.
So the search will continue.
Who was the other West Point graduate onboard that day? It seems odd that the West Point website didn't give that man's name.
Was Major Smith in the front seat or the back on that fateful day?
At least now I know the name of one of those brave men.
And it haunts me, is Major Smith's class ring still up there on Cherry Hill, buried somewhere in the underbrush after 50 years? I would hope so and pray that none of the town ghouls found it.
I will keep looking until I know as much of the "rest of the story" as it's possible to learn.
Fifty years later, I remember you, Major William C. Smith. I shall not soon forget you.
Rest in peace, Sir.