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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Timepiece: Very Much Alive

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Arkansas River Valley Business Directory

By Dr. Curtis Varnell

Magazine Mountain has more than its share of stories to be told.  One of the most unusual involved an airplane crash that occurred right after WWII. 

With the mountain rising abruptly 2,500 feet above the surrounding countryside, Magazine has had its fair share of airplane accidents.  Flying by altimeter, pilots feel safe at flying 2,000 feet above sea level only to discover, often fatally, that the mountain has an elevation topping 2,800 feet.

On the night of November 17, 1947, a B-25 flying out of Camp Barksdale, Louisiana departed on a relatively short trip to Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Herbert Lindroth, an air force mechanic, was given leave to travel along in order to visit his parents who lived in a Chicago suburb. 

(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

November of that year was unusually cold and it was sleeting and foggy as the crew reached Arkansas.  Residents in Havana reported that the plane was seen circling and apparently lost at about 6 p.m.  Shortly afterward, Mr. Lee Apple, who lived on Magazine, heard a crash and saw flames in the distance.  He and a passing motorist rushed to the scene as quickly as possible, a difficult task since the terrain was very rugged and steep.  They were soon joined by several farmers and businessmen from Havana.  It was a scene of nearly total destruction with parts of the large plane scattered and burning across a wide area.  Sheriff Earl Ladd and the State Police arrived shortly thereafter, and a search for the bodies began. It was noted that the crash occurred only a few hundred yards from the site of a fatal crash that occurred two years previously. 

The plane struck the mountain with such force that it had sheared off a huge oak tree and had uprooted two others.  Parts of the plane, clothing, and bodies were scattered over an area more than one hundred yards in length. Two bodies were quickly discovered, burned beyond recognition.  Three others were discovered soon afterward, the watches on their arms frozen in time at 7:15, the presumed time of the crash.  It was assumed the sixth body must have been thrown a great distance away and the men gave up the search for it until morning.

Newspapers across the nation reported the information and sent photographers to the site. The bodies were left in place on the mountain until Air Force personnel arrived the next day and the search for the sixth man continued without success. 

Forced to work late on Friday at his job as an aircraft mechanic, Herbert Lindroth arrived at Barksdale just in time to see the plane on the runway.  Realizing that the military craft was not going to wait on him, he left to enjoy his weekend in Shreveport.  When he returned to barracks on Sunday, he scared the daylights out of his friends who thought he was an apparition.  His squadron officer quickly figured out the details and got the search in Arkansas called off.  The names of those killed were: Capt. William F. Wilson, 29, Strong City, Kansas; Capt. Albert C. Frese Jr., 27, Brunswick, Georgia; Lt. Robert O. Pabst, 24, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 2nd Lt. Ed D. Ward, 27, Chicago, Illinois; Pf. James H. Miershma, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Pfc. William E. Wesley, Muskegon, Michigan.

The sixth man, Mr. Herbert Lindroth is still very much alive and today (2015) lives in Bland, Missouri where he loves to repeat the story of his demise complete with the newspaper clippings of his own obituary from November 1947.

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Tammy Teague
Tammy Teague
Tammy is the heart behind the brand. Her tenacity to curate authentic journalism, supported by a genuine heart is one her many wholesome qualities.
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