During World War II the Army Air Forces lost more than 4500 aircraft in combat against the Japanese. Between 1942-1945 the AAF lost over 7189 combat aircraft and 5317 training aircraft in the United States to accidents in training and transportation, claiming the lives of over 15,530 crewmembers and ground personnel in over 52,000 accidents. The US Navy and Marine Corps experienced 3632 aviation combat deaths during the war and 3257 non-combat aviation deaths. Such stories, accounting for these losses due mostly to accidents, have been largely forgotten

(photo of Robert Bursey, courtesy of David Hill and the Bursey family. Copyright 2017, all rights reserved)

 

In the early morning hours of December 6, 1943 a B-24 Liberator bomber #41-28463 and its crew of six disappeared between Tucson, Arizona and its base at Hammer Field in Fresno, California.

Of a squadron of ten B-24s sent to find 463, a second aircraft, named Exterminator, crash-landed and sank into the reservoir at Huntington Lake. Only the copilot and radio operator survived when they managed to bail out at the last moment. Not until 1955, when the reservoir was drained so repairs could be done was Exterminator found.

In 1960 two US Geological Survey researchers and a National Park Service ranger discovered the wreckage of 463 in a lake at 12,255 feet in the High Sierra of Kings Canyon National Park. The copilot's father had spent the previous 15 years looking for his son, only to die of heart failure in 1959. The lake is named for the father and the son he never found: Hester Lake.

Beneath Haunted Waters is the story of the two airplanes, the crews, and generations of people who would not let this story be forgotten.


Listen HERE to an MP3 audio sample from Chapter 1 read by Ron Welch Jr., grandnephew of 2nd Lt. William Cronin, navigator on 463.


Thank you for visiting this website. I hope you enjoyed reading Beneath Haunted Waters and also hope you will contribute to and support veteran's issues from all our wars. They gave their best, fighting and sometimes dying for us. The very least we can do is give our best to support them. Thank you.

 

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