Jack Remembers

by Jack Hackley

Lexington Advertiser News, January 26, 1945

“Nineteen service men including eleven crew members of a heavy B-17 Army bomber miraculously escaped death and injury at 4:10 a.m. when the plane crash landed in a forest of willows on the north bank of the Missouri River opposite Lexington. The ship came to rest about 50 yards from the bank headed toward the stream.
The plane, flying from Florida to Grand Island, Nebraska, ran out of gasoline at this point and the pilot circled over the north edge of Lexington looking for a landing field, and finding none, continued on to Henrietta, where the lights were mistaken for the lights of a landing field. Discovering that the lights were from a town, the pilot headed back toward the flat lands near the river, and came down, landing in a stretch of small willow trees, cutting a long swath through them as the ship came to a stop. It was practically demolished.
In addition to the crew, the plane carried several other servicemen travel on furlough papers. All came out of the crash in good condition. One man had an injured finger and another, a slight head injury, it was said. The men notified the Grand Island base and also Fairfax Field, Kansas City. They remained in Lexington today and were guests at Wentworth Military Academy for the noon meal today.
Two of the servicemen passengers were on emergency furloughs.
Unknown, of course, to the plane’s crew, they came down within a couple miles or so of both Lexington airports. But since neither port was lighted, they were unable to find them.
The flat topographic of the land in the river bottoms, however, and the absence of large trees or other obstacles, undoubtedly save the entire group from death or serious injuries. The growth of small willows, too, probably served to reduce the plane’s impetus.
In commenting on their deliverance, one of the boys remarked when it was all over: “Boy, I’m going to church next Sunday and sit on the front row”. Several others chimed: “And me, too.”

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or jackremembers@aol.com