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At 7:05 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) on April 25, 1967, EC-121H serial number 53-0549 crashed and was destroyed one mile south of the western tip of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Of the 16 crew-members aboard the aircraft, 15 were fatalities. One of the two navigators aboard, 1st Lt Joseph L.H. Guenet, survived sustaining major injuries. The aircraft and its crew were assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wing and were participating in an active air defense mission over the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft commander for the flight (Colonel James P. Lyle/551st AEW&C wing commander) briefed the aircrew and completed a normal pre-flight clearance form for the mission. At 6:58 p.m. EST, Col Lyle reported climbing through 6,000 feet and on a heading of 150 degrees. Following this transmission, he declared that he thought the number three engine was on fire and that the aircraft was returning to Otis Air Force Base. One minute later, he stated the fire was in the right wing root section of the aircraft. Although Col Lyle made a left turn toward Otis AFB, he then elected to land at Nantucket Airport and continued his turn to a southerly heading. At this time, he was eight miles from Nantucket and 22 miles from Otis AFB. The aircraft was observed to fly over the west end of Nantucket Island on a southerly heading and ditched into the ocean one mile south of the west end of the island. The aircraft was seen to impact the water in a flat attitude, immediately burst into flames and travel approximately 1,000 feet before submerging. The fifteen crew members that perished in the wreckage include:Col James P. Lyle/Aircraft Commander, Maj Howard N. Franklyn/Pilot, Capt Frank R. Ferguson II/Navigator, SMSgt Robert E. Mulhern/Flight Engineer, MSgt Frank W. Garner Jr./Flight Engineer, TSgt Gordon O. Hamman, Radar Technician, SSgt Richard D. Bearden/Radar Crew Chief, A1C Robert J. Clapper/Airborne Data Processor Technician, A1C Theodore E. LaPointe/Radio Operator, A1C William M. Walsh/Radar Operator, A1C Richard D. Gravely/Radar Operator, A2C Danny R. Burden/Radar Technician, A2C Dennis E. Boyle/Navigation Technician, A2C William M. Cook/Radar Operator, A3C Dennis R. Cole/Student Radar Operator. Only 1st Lt Joseph L.H. Guenet survived the disaster. Lt Col Guenet retired from the Air Force in 1985 after 27 years of total service. Limited Edition, Signed and Numbered prints are available directly from the Artist.
December 12th, 2010
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