A Rainy Day That Seemed Right for the Occasion…Remebering the B-52 Crew in Greenville [PHOTO GALLERY]
Friday, on a whim, I asked my friend Norm Elvin if he wanted to take a ride to Greenville the next day for a memorial service on Elephant Mountain to honor those who served on the ill-fated B-52 that crashed there 50 years earlier. After a quick look at his calendar, he said it would be a perfect way to spend part of Memorial Day Weekend! Here, you can read the account of that day on January 24th, 1963….
When we got to the site at around 11:30, there were probably 25 to 30 cars all lined up on the dirt road, deep in the woods. From where we parked, it wasn’t a ten minute walk to where the memorial was going to be held.
There were two tarps set up with chairs underneath for the honored guests (which included family members of the crew and one of two survivors, navigator, Captain Gerald J. Adler). Everyone else was huddling under umbrellas and touring the massive debris field. I had only ever been in via snowmobile and seen the tops of bigger chunks of the aircraft and a couple of wheels. This day gave me a whole new appreciation for the impact of this massive B-52 Stratofortress as pieces of fuselage, wings, wheels and more lay strewn about in a very large radius. No telling how much of it has been moved over the years but, undoubtedly, many of the bigger pieces have probably not moved much, if at all, from where they came to rest back in 1963.
The day was cold and wet. The ceremony solemn and beautiful. I felt proud as I stood there next to my good friend, silently taking in every bit of the honors being bestowed by the Air Force for members of an elite group of people…the most elite group of people…those willing to give their lives in the defense of freedom.
As members of the Air Force and other branches of the U.S. Military stood at attention, a trumpeter played Amazing Grace followed by a wreath laying and dedication of the site. Finally, American flags were unfurled and folded before being presented to family members of the lost crewmen. Except for the rain falling and wind blowing through the trees, there were no sounds.
The silence was eventually broken by the sound of rifles ringing out to honor the crew followed by a lone bugle playing Taps. The ceremony concluded and Norm and I headed back to the road so we could make our way back toward home. We were wet, but thankful that we’d taken the time to pay tribute to this heroic group of men that, thankfully, neither time nor the military and town of Greenville have ever forgotten. Thank you to Greenville Police Chief Jeff Pomerleau for getting the word out for, without his taking the time to let us know, many people would have never known about the service of the sacrifice and these nine men on a frigid winter day back in 1963.
Go here to see a wonderful report aired on WABI TV-5.
To members of the military, a heartfelt thank you. God bless you and God bless America.