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Plane Crash in McDowell County

Welch Daily News
July 6, 1942


Welch Honors Memory Of 21 Dead Soldiers

Impressive Service Held Here Sunday

Flag-Draped Caskets Line Station Platform

A salute was fired.

Taps were sounded.

And thus ended Welch’s special tribute Sunday evening to 21 United States Army men who died Wednesday in an airplane crash at Premier. Scene of the service, first of its kind in the history of McDowell county, was the local Norfolk and Western Railway station.

War’s stark realities of death and destruction were brought closer home to the hundreds of onlookers who came to pay homage to the dead soldiers just before they were to be sent to their homes by train.

Scheduled to begin at 6 o’clock crowds began filling the roped-off section of the station by 5:30. Surrounding lawns of the World War Memorial building and McDowell county court house were filled to capacity fifteen minutes before the service began.

Women Weep Softly

No relatives of the dead were among the hundreds of spectators. But there were scores of mothers, fathers, sisters, wives, sweethearts and friends of youths now serving their country. Women wept softly - some perhaps with thoughts of their own in combat service. Hope and determination could be found in the words of the principal speaker, the Rev. D. M. Dorsey, himself a veteran of the first World War.

“They did not die in vain,” he told his listeners whose eyes remained fixed on the flag-draped boxes containing the caskets and bodies of the plane victims. Beneath each flag was a single wreath contributed by the local Salvation Army corps. Nearby at attention stood the 21 escorts who were to accompany their buddies to their homes in 14 different states. All bodies were sent to their destination on Sunday.

“We are gathered here,” the Rev. Mr. Dorsey began, “as one people under one flag and one Lord. We don’t know the church affiliations of these men, but we do know they are Americans. They gave their lives in their line of duty although not on the battle front.

Spirit Will Live

“They died a tragic death, but they did not die in vain,” he went on. “This service may soon be forgotten but the spirit of those soldiers will live on in all of those assembled here today...Let us pledge of allegiance again to God and this country that these heroes of many different states have not died in vain.”

The service opened with members of the local company of the West Virginia Home Guard under the command of Capt. John A. Blevins, marching to the station platform. Scripture reading was by Capt. F. M. Gaugh of the local Salvation Army corps. This was followed by a prayer by the Rev. W. C. Brown, pastor of the First Presbyterian church.

Roll call of the dead was read by R. E. L. Douglas of McDowell Post No. 8, of the American Legion, after which the Rev. Mr. Dorsey delivered his brief sermon. This was followed by the Rev. A. A. Duke of the Church of God, leading the crowd in singing America. Benedi[c]tion was by the Rev. G. K. Patty of the First Methodist church.

The home guard fired three times in salute to the dead, then taps were sounded by Danny Dorsey, bugler.

Following are the plane victims and escorts who left Welch by train late Sunday night:

Pvt. Edward F. X. Carr, Philadelphia, Pa., escort, Corp. N. H. Langford.

Corp. Claudius W. Haywood, Ambler, Pa., escort, Sgt. W. L. Ohda.

Pvt. Chester F. Petrowski, Auburn, N. Y., escort, Pfc. J. F. Kennedy.

Staff Sg. Leo T. Colburn, Tuscaloosa, Ala., escort, Staff Sergeant J. L. Smith.

Pvt. Elmer J. Campbell, Stanley, Va., escort, Corp. J. I. Lesher.

Pfc. Denver W. Koeppe, Bryan, O., escort, Pfc. R. J. Mallett.

Staff Sgt. Anthony W. Belcher, Ironton, O., escort, Staff Sgt. W. W. Smith.

2nd Lt. Walter R. Faught, Jr., Paris, Tex., escort, Lt. A. L. Coenen.

2nd Lt. Edwin A. Harness, La Porte, Ind., escort, 2nd Lt. J. G. Flautt.

Staff Sgt. Archie W. Chamblin, Leavenworth, Kans., escort, Staff Sgt. V. S. Margners.

Staff Sgt. Russell A. Carter, Topeka, Kans., escort, Staff Sgt. D. M. Wayne.

Staff Sgt. Salvatore T. Barone, Mt. Morris, N. Y., escort, Staff Sgt. J. A. Wallace.

Staff Sgt. Joseph S. Cholewa, Racine, Wis., escort, Staff Sgt. W. A. Thomas.

Pfc. Lester S. Erickson, Superior, Wis., escort, Corp. G. H. McCubbin.

Pvt. Elmo G. Edmunds, Quincy, Ill., escort, Sgt. R. C. Calybough.

Staff Sgt. Leon A. Olin, Big Timber, Mont., escort, Staff Sgt. J. P. Morgan.

Staff Sgt. Horace M. Dickson, Hannibal, Mo., escort, Staff Sgt. L. W. Kaffenberger.

Corp. Bartola P. Purpura, Watertown, N. Y., escort, Sgt. W. L. Ambos.

Corp. Kermit S. Masters, Sheldon, Mo., escort, Corp. C. R. Harris.

Staff Sgt. George R. Eversull, Stuart, Iowa, escort, Staff Sgt. F. P. Greer.


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