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CAPE COD STANDARD TIMES

 

8 CREWMEN DIE, 11 SAVED BY ARMADA AS OTIS PLANE DITCHES IN ATLANTIC


CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 12, 1965


OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 12 - Eight crew members died when an Otis-based EC-
121H Super-Constellation ditched last night in the Atlantic Ocean 100 miles northeast of
Nantucket.
They were confirmed as dead by base officials shortly before noon today.
Latest word received at the base at noon was that 11 of the original crew members
survived the crash and were picked up by a German destroyer operating in the area.
Four of the 11, base officials said, were reported to be in good condition. Conditions
of the other survivors were not available at press time today.
BELIEVED TRANSFERRED - The survivors were believed to have been
transferred to the U.S. carrier Wasp which was on a training mission with five German
destroyers in the general area where the Super. -Constellation ditched.
Base information service officials said at noon that a helicopter was bringing some
of the survivors back to Otis.

First word of the fatalities was received here from a Salem-based Coast Guard
rescue plane, one of several aircraft flying over the scene of the ditching.
Names of those who lost their lives have been withheld pending identification and
notification of next of kin. Also withheld from publication at noon is the name of the
aircraft commander.
TO ARRIVE - Brigadier-General Von R. Shores, commander of the 26th Air
Division, was expected to arrive at Otis early this afternoon for a briefing on the disaster
and to hold a press conference when he has sufficient facts.
Bodies of the eight crew members, killed in the ditching were believed to have been
recovered in the water. There were conflicting reports on the number of survivors with
some early reports saying that there were 10 survivors and one missing.
A rescue flotilla of helicopters, planes, and ships of two nations picked up the dead
and living airmen bobbing in life jackets in three to five foot swells.
The Coast Guard said seven of the survivors were put aboard a German destroyer
on maneuvers in the area and that three others were on the U.S. destroyer Barry.
The West German warship was one of three on maneuvers with the carrier Wasp.
All were diverted to participate in the rescue.
DRAMA UNFOLDS - The life and death drama unfolded at daybreak when rescue
craft saw flares, dye markers, an oil slick and plane debris. Planes circling overhead
spotted the survivors floating fairly close together in inflated vests.
A dozen ships converged on the area including the Wasp and three destroyers of the
West German Navy. The German destroyer Blotter, a former U.S. destroyer, was the first
to pick up survivors.
The massive air-sea search was launched shortly after the plane plunged into the
ocean last night with one of its four engines aflame.
The pilot had feathered or cut the power on a second apparently disabled engine six
minutes before the crash.
PICKED UP SOS - Shortly after the crash at 10:20 p.m. a search plane picked up
SOS calls on a frequency used by emergency radio transmitters in life rafts.
First word that the plane was in trouble was reported by Federal Aviation Agency
FAA air traffic control tower at Nashua, N.H. The pilot reported to the tower one engine
out and another on fire.
Thunderstorms lashed the area about the time the plane went down in fog of almost
zero visibility. It was not known whether the plane was hit by lightning.
HAMPER SEARCH - The weather worsened during the night, hampering search
opertions operations, but improved by mid-morning.
The plane went into the water on Georges Banks, a commercial fishing ground used
by Russian as well as American fishermen.
Air Force Captain Theodore Shaffer of Tiltonbille, Ohio, pilot of one of the search
planes, said the first four men sighted were bobbing close together in life jackets. Shaffers
crew relayed messages from low flying search planes to the mainland but did not actually
sight any survivors.
Captain Shaffer said debris and an oil slick were sighted at the same time four men
were seen in the water. One of the search planes dropped a life raft, he said.
The first airman was pulled from the water by the German destroyer at 4:15 a.m.,
about eight hours after the ditching, Captain Shaffer said.
One Air Force plane taking part in the search reported receiving six SOS calls on
a frequency used by emergency radio transmitters found in life rafts.
The patrol plane ditched about 95 miles northeast of Nantucket.
The $2,500,000 plane crammed with 5 tons of sensitive radar gear crash landed
last night.
The pilot reported that one of its four engines was afire. He feathered another
apparently disabled engine six minutes before the plane hit the water.
Thunderstorms lashed the area about the time the plane went down in fog in almost
zero visibility. It was not known whether the plane was hit by lightning.
At least 10 ships including the Boston - based aircraft carrier Wasp sailed for the
crash scene. Scores of planes circled overhead.
The air-sea search was concentrated on a part of Georges Banks, a commercial
fishing ground used by the Russians as well as Americans. Many Soviet fishing vessels
were reported in the area recently.
The weather worsened during the night, hampering search operations, but was
expected to improve by mid-morning. Sea swells were five to six feet high.
Shortly after the plane went down at 10:20 last night, one of the search planes
picked up a radio signal that might have come from a life raft. However, the signal was not
repeated.
Federal Aviation Agency air traffic control at Nashua, N.H. ;said the pilot reported one
engine out and another on fire six minutes before the craft hit the water.
The ditching was the first for a North American Radar air Defense (Norad) plane in
10 years. Normally such a plane does not carry parachutes.
The plane with a range of 4,000 miles and the ability of staying aloft eight to 12
hours was assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing at Otis. It was
part of a group whose protective screen ranged from Newfoundland to Norfolk, Va.
Shortly after the plane hit the water, a Pan American World Airways jetliner
enroute to Europe from Kennedy Airport was diverted to the scene of the ditching. The
Pan Am captain said he could find no trace of wreckage or survivors. He said visibility was
;poor.
The radio signal was picked up by a jet fighter about 1 hours after the crash. It
was believed the homing signal came from life raft equipment normally carried by the
plane, the Air Force said.

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 12, 1965


AIR FORCE LISTS CREW OF DOWNED AIRPLANE


OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 12 - The Air Force today Identified 18 of the 19 crewmen
aboard the EC-121H Radar picket plane that ditched last night in the Atlantic Ocean off
Nantucket.
The names of the 19th crewman, identified only as a pilot, was withheld pending
notification of next of kin.
Listed were:
1. Captain Murray J. Brady, New York city, the pilot, lives at Otis.
2. 1st Lieutenant Thomas Fielder, Davenport, Iowa, the co-pilot, at Otis.
3. 1st Lieutenant Bruce E. Witcher, Reading, Cal, the navigator, at Otis.
4. 2nd Lieutenant Ira J. Husik, Philadelphia, navigator, lives in North Falmouth.
5. Captain Edward N. Aneka, An Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps,
(AFROTC) instructor at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West, Va.
6. Captain Michael R. Barbolla, an AFROTC instructor at Manhattan College in
New York City (The Air Force said Captains Aneka and Barbolla were not n
members of the planes crew but were on the flight as observers.)
7. Technical Sergeant Gilbert T. Armstrong, Duncan, S.C., flight engineer, lives at
Otis.
8. Staff Sergeant Raymond M. Washam, Wilmington, Del., radio operator, lives at
Otis.
9. Staff Sergeant Francis J. Griffin, Toronto, Canada, radio operator, at Otis.
10. Staff Sergeant John L. Howard, Sanford, Fla., radar technician, lives in Buzzards
Bay.
11. Airman 1st Class George R. West, Grand Rapids, Mich., radar technician, lives at
Otis.
12. Airman 1st Class Charles K. Sawyer, Anderson, S.C., radar technician, lives in
Pocasset.
13. Airman 1st Class John W. Puopolo, Roslindale, radar technician, lives in
Sagamore.
14. Airman 2nd Class William E. Howe, North Augusta, S.C., radar technician, lives at
Onset.
15. Airman 2nd Class David A. Surles, Raleigh, N.C., radar technician, lives in
Falmouth.
16. Airman Charles H. Williams, Worcester, radar technician, lives at Otis.
17. Airman 3rd Class Charles J. Podiaski, Evergreen, Ill., radar technician, lives at
Otis.
18. Technical Sergeant Eugene J. Schreivogel, Springfield, Colo., flight engineer, lives

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13, 1965


BAD COMMUNICATIONS, WEATHER ARE BLAMED
By United Press International

BOSTON, July 13 - Communications problems and bad weather created confusion in
reporting the fate of 19 airmen who ditched their patrol plane at sea, the Coast Guard said
today.
The four-engine plane from Otis Air Force Base crashed some 100 miles off the
Massachusetts coast Sunday night because of engine trouble.
During the next 14 hours the reported number of survivors ranged from four to 11.
Three men actually survived, nine were killed, and seven are missing and feared lost.
The Coast Guard said crews aboard rescue ships misinterpreted messages from
other surface [ships] and aircraft in the area. One report said a German destroyer had
taken aboard nine survivors. Actually, six of the airmen on the warship were dead.
In addition, stormy weather in the search area hampered radio communications and
poor visibility increased the possibility of duplications in reports of those seen in the water.
at Otis.

 

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13, 1965

HOPE WANES FOR 7 CREWMEN; BOARD OF INQUIRY WILL SIT

By PAUL W. KEMPRECOS and KEN ILG
Cape Cod Standard-Times Staff Writers

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 13 - Hope waned today for seven crewmen of an Air Force
Radar picket Constellation that crashed off Nantucket Sunday night with only three
survivors.
Even as an armada of Naval and Coast Guard ships continued today to search the
waters and a sister plane of the downed craft circled overhead, her crew scanning the sea
for a flare or other signal, the wheels began to turn in the long and tedious process of
investigation.
A board of inquiry was scheduled to arrive at Otis today from Washington to
question the three survivors of the 19-man crew of the craft. The crewmen were at the base
hospital today recuperating from their ordeal. None was in critical condition.
Arrived at 11 - First Lieutenant Bruce Witcher of Redding, Cal., and Airman John
Puopolo of Sagamore and Roslindale and David S. Surles of Raleigh, N.C., arrived at Otis
shortly before 11, last night. They had spent more than 10 hours in the water.
The first account of the crash from a survivor was relayed at 3 a.m. today by
Colonel Raymond K. Gallagher, wing commander of the 551st Flight Group, who talked
with two of the three survivors shortly after they were flown to the base from the deck of
the aircraft carrier Wasp.
He said the surviving crewmen told him the crash of the plane was like hitting a
brick wall at 100 miles an hour.
The plane, crammed with radar and electronic gear, crashed after losing two
engines. Nine men were killed in the crash or died in the water and seven others are
missing.
Colonel Gallagher said that he talked with Lieutenant Witcher and Airman Surles
early today at the hospital, but they would not be available for a press conference before 2
p.m. today and even that time would depend on the approval of the flight surgeon.
WERE PICKED UP - The survivors were picked up shortly after dawn yesterday by
a West German destroyer participating in NATO maneuvers in the North Atlantic with the
Wasp and U.S. destroyers.
They had spent the night bobbing in their life-jackets. They were then flown to Otis
from the Wasp. A van met them at the landing strip and carried them directly to the
hospital.
Two of the airmen walked into the hospital, unassisted while Airman Puopolo, who
suffered deep shin cuts, abrasions and water immersion, was carried in a stretcher.
The board of inquiry will be from the Air Defense Command, 26th Air Division,
Colonel Gallagher said. It will convene at Otis today and as a probable first step in its
investigation, will talk to the three survivors.
Physical evidence on the cause of the crash will require more time and effort.
Colonel Gallagher said it would be necessary to recover the planes engines before
the cause of the disaster could be determined. He said the water at the crash site was 50 to
150 feet deep and Navy divers would be asked to help locate the wreckage and if possible to
raise the engines.
Moments before the plane ditched, the pilot radioed that one engine was afire and
another had been feathered because of a malfunction.
The plane was a modified version of the Lockheed Constellation and was part of the
Early Defense Warning System. It was one of 36 such aircraft based here as part of the
551st Group.
After talking with Lieutenant Witcher and Airman Surles, Colonel Gallagher said
We had already pieced together something of what happened. They seemed to verify that
things happened fast and that an engine was afire.
They told us they got the announcement from the pilot that they were going to ditch
while the plane was still at 15,000 feet.
UNUSUALLY RAPID - The boys estimated they made an unusually rapid descent.
The best they could figure it was five to 10 minutes. In other words, they were trying to get
down and ditch as fast at they could, the colonel said.
He explained that this was not a normal ditching procedure, when a shallow glide
is made.
The life rafts were stored in the wings, but both wings were torn away in the impact,
he said, and the survivors thought the plane broke up into two or three pieces. The plane
sank only a few minutes after hitting the water.
The colonel said that Airman Surges told him he managed to get to a small piece of
the wing which was floating in the water. Also clinging to the wing was Lieutenant
Watcher.
Airman Surges told him, the colonel said, that there were one or two persons also
clinging to the wing but he could snot identify them in the darkness. A few waves washed
over the section and they disappeared, he related.
Colonel Gallagher said Airmen Surges and the other survivors first saw a Coast
Guard amphibious craft at daybreak and then sighted a Constellation from Otis. This
plane, the colonel said, was flying a low search pattern and relating communications to
another Constellation at 15,000 feet. The German destroyer then picked th;em up.
The colonel said that this was the first serious mishap in more than 400,000 hours
flying time logged by the Constellations which have traveled a total of 2,200,000,000 miles
since they were first used in a radar picket capacity.
PILOT TOLD - Colonel Gallagher said that the commander of the plane was 1st
Lieutenant Frederick H. Ambrosia, who, with the pilot, Captain Murray J. Brody, were
among the dead or missing. Both were from New York City. Lieutenant Ambrosia, the
colonel said, had been checked out in June as an aircraft commander of the Constellation
and this was his fifth flight in this position.
He explained that poor communications from the search and rescue armada was
responsible for the confused, exaggerated accounts of the number of survivors. Searchers
kept counting the same survivors repeatedly, he said. The condition of the seas at the time
of the crash hinder4edhindered the search. Water temeperature was 58 degrees, and rain and fog
were intermittent. The first statements to be released had 11 men surviving with 8 lost.
NOT FOR SOME TIME - Officials at Otis said today that a list of the dead and
missing airmen in the plane will not be available for sometime, pending positive medical
identification of the six bodies recovered.
Weather conditions were reported as good in the area as an intensive search was still
underway for the seven other crew members. The wind was blowing at 10 knots and seas
were from one to three feet.
The 90-square mile search area has been divided into five sections. Coast Guard
units from Salem and from Quonset Point, R.I., have one section each; planes from Otis
patrolled two sections, and the Wasp has charge of the fifth sector.
Coast Guard Search and Rescue headquarters in Boston said that there was at least
one ship and one plane in each sector. The Wasp had 13 helicopters aloft.

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13, 1965


IT WAS HORRIBLE 20 HOURS, SAYS WIFE

By CATHARINE A. BAKER
Cape Cod Standard-Reporter

EAST FALMOUTH, July 13 - It was the most horrible 20 hours of my life and I hope I
never have to go through anything like this again, Mrs. David A. Surles, wife of one of the
three survivors said today.
In a telephone interview with this reporter, Mrs. Surles described her hours of
anguish.
I have a habit of sleeping through the late news broadcasts and so I missed the first
report at 11 p.m. Sunday but received a call from Otis at about 11:45, Mrs. Surles said.
From that time until 7:30 last night I had heard nothing when the news of his survival was
telephoned to me.
WAS AT HOSPITAL - The anxious wife was at the base hospital when airman 2d
Class David A. Surles was brought in at 2 a.m. today.
We had a brief visit, Mrs. Surles said. And he seemed fine. I just received another call
from the hospital telling me I could visit him again this morning for a brief period.
This is perhaps one incident where overweight was a help rather than a hindrance.
My husband doesn't have a scratch on him, Mrs. Surles continued. In fact, he
has been a little over-weight by 10 or 15 pounds. This gave him an excess roll around the
middle which may even have saved his life.
He seems to be in excellent physical condition, Mrs. Surles said, and in very good
spirits. I do not know much of what happened out there for it is highly technical and even
if I did I would not be permitted to tell.
NOT WAIT ALONE - Her waiting hours were spent with one of the wives whose
husband did not return and with neighbors and friends.
One of the rules at the base is that none of us were to wait alone.
Mrs. Surles happy news was dampened a great deal, she said, by the sad tidings
brought to her waiting companion.
I had definite mixed emotions, she said. I couldn't be completely happy myself
when I felt so sorry for her. I really didn't know how to cope with it.
Airman Surles is not an Air Force career man. In fact, he and Mrs. Surles are
career government employees according to Mrs. Surles.
Mr. Surles has been in the service since November , 1962 and this is his first
experience with a plane crash. Mrs. Surles is from Illinois and he from Raleigh, N.C. but
they will make their home near Washington, upon completion of his Air Force enlistment.
Mars. Surles is employed at the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in Woods Hole.
RESPECT FOR OCEAN - Perhaps another contributing factor in Airman Surles
survival is his respect for the ocean, as his wife termed it.
He is very fond of the ocean and spends a lot of time at the beach but he has a very
healthy respect for it. He often has given me instructions in the Dos and Don'ts of
swimming in the ocean.
There were no tell-tale signs of her ordeal in Mrs. Surles voice today.
She sounded like an extremely happy wife on her way to see her husband.

 

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13,1965


LIKE HITTING A BRICK WALL
By United Press International

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 13 - Crewmen who survived the ditching of their crippled
Air Force patrol plane in the Atlantic Ocean Sunday night said today the crash was like
hitting a brick wall at 100 miles an hour.
Two of the three survivors were interviewed by Colonel Raymond K. Gallagher,
wing commander of the 551st Squadron, after they were flown here from the deck of the
aircraft carrier Wasp.
Nine men were killed in the crash or perished later in the ocean. Seven others were
missing and feared lost. An extensive air-sea search continued for them. The huge four-
engine patrol plane, bristling with radio and radar gear, ditched bout 100 miles off the
Massachusetts coast after one malfunctioning engine was shut down and another caught
fire.
The 90-square-mile area was divided into five sections. Cost Guard units from
Salem, and Quonset Point, R.I., had one section each; planes from Otis Air Force Base
Patrolled two sections; and the Wasp had charge of the fifth sector.
Coast Guard Search and Rescue Headquarters in Boston said there was at least one
ship and one plane in each sector. The Wasp had 13 helicopters aloft.
Weather in the area was good. The wind was blowing at about 10 knots and the sea
was running about one to three feet.
WERE PICKED UP - The survivors, a navigator and two technicians, were picked
up nearly 10 hours after the crash by a West German destroyer which had been
participating in NATO maneuvers in the North Atlantic along with he Wasp and U.S.
destroyers.
Colonel Gallagher talked with two of the men, 1st Lieutenant Bruce E. Witcher of
Redding, Cal., and Airman 2d David A. Surles of Raleigh, N.C., early today in the hospital
at this Cape Cod base.
After talking with them, Colonel Gallagher said, We had already pie;pieced together
something of what happened. They seemed to verity that things happened fast, that an
engine was afire.
They told us they got the announcement from the pilot that they were going to
ditch while the plane was still at 15,000 feet.
The boys estimated they made an unusually rapid descent. The best they could
figure it was five to 10 minutes. In other words, they were trying to get down and ditch as
fast as they could, Colonel Gallagher said.
SANK IN MINUTES - The plane sank only a few minutes after hitting the water.
Life rafts are stored in the wings but both wings were torn away from the fuselage by the
impact.
Colonel Gallagher said they told him the $2,500,000 plane hit the water at a steep
angle, broke apart and sank within a few minutes.
Several crewmen escaped before the plane went down, colonel Gallagher said, but
apparently some of them drowned and others died of exposure or shock.
Colonel Gallagher said Lieutenant Witcher was hurled into the water when the
plane crashed but swam to a piece of the wing and clung there until he was rescued. He
said two other men clinging to the wing were washed away by a big wave.
Airman Surles told Colonel Gallagher he climbed through a hole in the plane and
managed to stay afloat through the night. He said a fog bank rolled in at dawn and the
German destroyer, that rescued him nearly ran him down because visibility was so poor.
Both Lieutenant Witcher and Airman Surles waked into the hospital unassisted.
The third survivor, Airman 1st Class John W. Puopolo of Sagamore, was carried in on a
stretcher. Colonel Gallagher said he had severe leg cuts.
At first there were voices shouting and calling. But then as time went on the voices
faded away and there was only silence on the ocean. Airman Surles told Colonel
Gallagher.
It appeared to me, Surles said, that the ship broke into two or three pieces and the nose
dug under. I climbed out through a break in the fuselage.
Colonel Gallagher said Airman Surles survival suit, a watertight rubber cover-all
somehow became ripped. It was full of water, he said.
Lieutenant Witcher said he and a few others held on to a piece of one wing in three
to five foot waves.
And suddenly one of them swept us and two of the men slipped away and were lost,
Lieutenant Witcher told colonel Gallagher. The other man hung on and I tried to
encourage him. But I looked at him once and saw his eyes were getting glassy and he lost
his grip and slipped under the water.

 

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13, 1965


THIRD OF WISH IS REALIZED

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 13 - Young Airman 2d Class Thomas Burman of Saginaw,
Mich, climbed into the front seat of the car that stopped for him at the main entrance to
Otis Air Force Base.
Thanks, he said. He lighted a cigarette. Pretty bad about that crash, he said.
I went through tech school with three of them. I roomed with one.
He looked out the window. Must have been cold out there. The young airman was silent
for a moment. I used to fly with them. Now I work on the flight line. IM sure they're
all right.
Airman Burman got one third of his wish. Airman 2d Class David A. Surles, his
roommate at Electronics Maintenance School at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., was one of
three survivors.
His other two friends are among the victims.

* * *

The two unidentified Air Force men stood with newspapermen outside the base
hospital. They were hoping for some word about a friend, Staff Sergeant John L. Howard,
who lived with his family in Buzzards Bay.
He was going to get out, had a job to go to, one said. But he made staff sergeant
in his second hitch and decided to stay in. Sergeant Howard, his waiting friends said, re-
enlisted about the end of may.
The sergeant was one of the crash victims.

 

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 13, 1965


TIME LIKE THIS I WISH WE WERE CIVILIANS
By TILSON S. DENAHM
Cape Cod Standard-Times Staff Writer


OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 13 - Yesterday afternoon before the grim word that only
three airmen survived the crash, activities at Otis appeared, on the surface, to be nearly
normal.
Only at base operations did the strain become apparent. A group of officers
clustered about a desk, sweating it out.
They were constrained, but polite to a reporter who asked if any relatives of the
crewmen of the fated Connie were available for interview.
One officer said, Civilians? Why your the only civilian that's been in here. I
guess a lot of us wish we were civilians after a day like this.
WAS DIRECTED - The reporter was directed to the wing commanders
headquarters where the press had gathered. Captain Wayne Barrows, in charge of
information on the crash, had just issued word that there were only three survivors.
The knot of newsmen and photographers were silent, wondering if this
communication were accurate. Previous word had been that 11 men had been rescued.
There were no civilians, other than the press.
A helicopter flew in to refuel. Presently word come back from the pilot that heavy
mist covered the scene of rescue operations and the visibility was so poor the search was
nearly static.
Some suggested the relatives of the crewmen might be in the hospital area. Someone
else said the area was closed. It was not closed.
LAY SPRAWLED - The hospital sprawled in the hot sunshine. The only sign of
activity was a group of children at play awaiting their mothers return from a visit with a
patient. One or two nurses, looking cool in their white uniforms, waited at the bust stop.
No hint of the tragedy appeared on the surface of things, just down below the surface.
The effect of the news on the Town of Bourne was widespread. Nearly everyone
exchanged the latest information.
Many of the airmen stationed at Otis live in the town.
ONE OF THE THREE SURVIVORS, Airman 1st Class John N. Puopolo, with his
wife Nina and their 16-month old daughter, Karen, live on Meeting House Lane, North
Sagamore.
Another, Technical Sergeant Gilbert T. Armstrong, was listed as dead. He was well-
known in Bourne, having worked with a local building contractor. His wife, 8 months
pregnant, had to be taken to Otis Air Force Base Hospital.
Another woman, who withheld her name, reported her brother was scheduled to
make the ill-fated patrol. He prevailed on a fellow airman to take his place because he had
to take his children to a doctor.
Thank God, Thank God, our boy is safe.
This was the reaction of Rocco and Anna Puopolo of Roslin dale Monday night,
when they received word that their son, Airman Puopolo, survived the crash.
The 66-year old couple slumped against their kitchen table and sobbed yesterday
when they heard that their only child was aboard the downed plane.
Oh my God, bring back our child, Mr. Rocco cried.
Down on Cape Cod, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Scuari had rushed to the Sagamore home
where Johns wife, Nina, and the 16-month -old baby, Karen, awaited news of the fate of
their loved one.
A doctor gave Nina a sedative and she mercifully slept for part of the day.
Pray God well we have good news before she wakes up, Mr. Scuari said.
His prayers were answered. She awoke to the joyous shouts ofher of her parents, who told
her the good news.

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 14, 1965


SURVIVORS TELL STORY OF PLANE CRASH

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 14 - Two of the three survivors of the first ditching crash of
an OTIS Air Force Based  EC-121H radar patrol plane Sunday night 80 miles off Nantucket in
which 16 other officers and airmen were drowned or are missing, told how they bobbed in
the chilly waters for more than eight hours and watched fellow crew members slowly drift
away SLOWLY DRIFT AWAY.
Airman 2d Class David H. Surles, 24, of Pinecrest Drive, Falmouth and Raleigh,
N.C., and 1st Lieutenant Bruce E. Witcher, 27, of Redding, Cal., were released from the
Otis 551st Base Hospital for a short time yesterday afternoon to appear at a long-awaited
news conference.
The third survivor, Airman 1st Class John W. Puopolo of Roslindale and Sagamore,
is still a bed patient at the hospital with deep cuts on both legs. The flight surgeons office
described Puopolos condition as fair to good and the condition of Surles and Witcher as
excellent, despite their long ordeal.
SEARCH CONTINUED - Meanwhile, a Coast Guard cutter, one helicopter and two
Air Force planes made a final effort today to find seven crewmen still missing after the
crash.
A Coast Guard spokesman said the search for the missing men will be called off at
the end of the day.
An Air Force board of inquiry convened yesterday to investigate the accident and
examined maintenance records of the aircraft for its last five missions in an attempt to
determine why the two engines failed.
Air Force officers indicated last night they believe the bodies of the missing crewmen
may be trapped in the $2,500,000 plane.
Wing Commander Raymond K. Gallagher said he asked the Navy for assistance in
attempting to salvage the sunken sections of the aircraft.
POSITION GIVEN - The broken pieces of the plane were thought to be under 50 to
100 feet of water. Authorities said one of the three survivors of the crash, Lieutenant
Witcher was the navigator and gave them an accurate position on the point of the crash.
Surles, in the air Force for two years, told newsmen that he managed to escape from
his radar post in the aft section of the huge electronic-crammed aircraft after the ditching.
It was my job to activate the 20-man life rafts in the wing sections, but they were
under water and I got out and swam from the plane. I didn't want to get sucked under,
Surles said.
Both airmen said the aircraft hit the water very hard and must have broken up in
two or three sections.
There were several of us in the water together at first, Surles said. I heard
Puopolo calling out and managed to get to him. We held onto each other for 10 hours and
40 minutes until the destroyer sighted us and sent over a whale boat.
Neither airmen commented as to how the remainder of the crew were lost.
DRIFTED AWAY -There were several of our buddies with us for a while, but then
they just drifted away Surles continued.
The two said they did not try to hang onto any wreckage as they both feared their
rubber suits or life jackets would be torn.
Lieutenant Witcher described the first minutes after the initial ditching alarm as
very fuzzy . I took a navigational fix to determine our position and relayed it to the
nearest station, he said.
Witcher added that when the plane struck the water, his section was under water
and that he remembered getting out of his seat and going to the surface.
After I reached the surface, I heard others calling. One was Surles, we tried to stay
together the whole time, but I wasn't sure it was him until we were aboard the rescue
boat, Witcher said.
He remembers climbing onto a small piece of wing section with two or three other
crewmen. A few waves broke over the section and when I looked up they were gone, He
said.
Both airmen said that the water was really cold and that our teeth didn't stop
chattering until about noon.
8 IDENTIFIED-The Air Force today identified four more of the nine crewmen
known dead in the crash.
They brought to eight the number of dead crewmen identified.
Listed as dead were:
Captain Murray J. Brody, 28 of New York city, husband of Claire Brody,
Otis Air Force Base. The Air Force listed his father as Irving Brody of 304 West 92nd
Street, New York city, and his mother as Mrs. Marcia Reinstein of 735 Bryant Avenue,
New York City.
Staff Sergeant Francis J. Griffin, husband of Doris Griffin, Otis Air Force
Base. The Air Force said he listed his home town as Toronto, Canada, and his parents were
deceased.
Staff Sergeant John L. Howard, husband of Shirley Howard, Buzzards Bay.
The Air Force said he listed his hometown as Sanford, Fla., but no information was
available on his parents.
Airman 1st Class George R. West, husband of Dorothy West, 21 Wilson
Street, Lewiston, Me., and son of Mr. and Mrs. George S. West, 4165 Ovile Street,
Wyoming, Mich.
Airman 2d Class William Ernest Howe Jr., husband of Cynthia Howe, Onset,
and son of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Howe of 115 North Woodlawn Avenue, North
Augusta, S.C.
Airman 3d Class Charles J. Podjaski, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Podjaski,
9613 South Troy Street, Evergreen Park, Ill.
Airman 2d Class Charles H. Williams, son of Mr. and Mrs. John A.
Williams, 11 Nixon Avenue, Worcester.
Airman 1st Class Charles K. Sawyer, husband of Mabel Sawyer, Pocasset,
еж son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Sawyer, 205 Peach Tree Street, Anderson, S.C.

 

CAPE COD STANDARD-TIMES
JULY 15, 1965


SPECIAL FLY-OVER RITE PLANNED AT OTIS BASE

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, July 15 - Five huge four-engine Constellations will roar over
Otis Air Force Base tomorrow in tribute to 16 airmen dead or missing in the crash of an
Otis radar plane Sunday off Nantucket.
The planes, sister ships to the one that crashed, will pass over the base as its military
and civilian personnel attend an inter-faith memorial service in a transient alert hangar.
The radar picket planes will fly a missing airman formation as a final farewell to
the lost crewmen.
WERE SAVED - Only three of the 19 crewmen aboard the Air Force patrol plane
survived Sunday nights crash. Nine bodies have been recovered and seven crewmen are
still listed officially as missing.
Hope waned for the rescue of the missing crewmen Wednesday when fog which
obscured the crash scene the night of the crash rolled back over the ocean area. There also
was speculation that the missing crewmen may have gone down with the plane, which sank
within minutes of hitting the water.
A lone Coast Guard cutter roamed the area in the Atlantic today, however,
searching for a sign of the missing men. The Coast Guard said the cutter Vigilant would
remain on the scene about 100 miles off Nantucket until tomorrow at the request of the Air
Force.
HEAD BACK - Search planes were ready to head back into the area when the fog
lifted but all other surface vessels have abandoned the search.
The air Force has asked the Navy to try to recover the wreckage of the plane which
is believed to be in about 150 feet of water.
Officials want to raise the plane because of the possibility of the  bodies still missing
and to aid the board of inquiry in determining the cause of the crash.
The Air Force has released the last of the names of the  nine airmen who died in the
ditching of the plane.
The last dead man identified was Captain Edward Anaka of Akron, N.Y. - an
instructor of military science at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia.
LIST THE DEAD - The Air Force previously listed as officially dead:
Airman 2d Class William Ernest Howe, Jr., husband of Cynthia Howe, Onset and
son of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Howe, 115 North Woodlawn Avenue, North Augusta, S.C.
Airman 3d Class Charles J. Podjaski, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Podjaski, 9613
South Troy Street, Evergreen Park, Ill.
Airman 2d Class Charles H. Williams, son of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Williams, 11
Nixon Avenue, Worcester.
Airman 1st Class Charles K. Sawyer, husband of Mabel Sawyer, Pocasset, and son of
Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Sawyer, 205 Peach Tree Street, Anderson, S.C.
The wife of Airman 1st Class George R. West said the Air Force had notified her
that Airman West also was among the dead. Mrs. West, an expectant mother, resides at 21
Wilson Street, Lewiston, Me. Airman West is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George s. West, 4165
Ovile Street, Wyoming, Mich.
Eleven other airmen dead or missing in the crash have been identified, but the Air
Force has not said which bodies were recovered.