BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --
In 1945, our world was in an all-out war. Aircraft were being shot down at a rate that is hard for us to fathom these days. WWII took a horrendous toll on a generation of young airmen. In one such incident, a United States Army Air Forces aircraft crashed on Long Man Hill, near Wilmington, Sussex, England.
All four crew members were killed. With two days remaining in the war in Europe, this was not the only USAAF crash that day. It was not the only one in Europe. It was not even the only one in England.
These Airmen were members of the 314th Troop Carrier Squadron and were stationed at Advanced Landing Ground A-73 near Roye, France. These men were Americans.
And 75 years later, we pause to remember a specific crew of the many Airmen that died on this sixth day May 1945.
1st Lt. Sidney "Jack" Gibson, pilot
2nd Lt. Victor L. Young, co-pilot
Staff Sgt. Daniel M. Campbell, crew
Staff Sgt. James F. Maloney, crew
The foursome had only arrived in Europe two months prior. The unit had just become operational in April. Most of the big airborne drops of WWII had already occurred and the troop carrier units were mainly being used to ferry equipment, material, and wounded to and from France and England.
On this particular mission, the Curtiss C-46D was flying a load of lumber and mail from the depot known as "Eccles" near Attleborough, Norfolk, England, to the Advance Landing Ground A-61 near Beauvais, France.
Gibson was rated for instrument flying, but he was apparently trying to stay under a layer of clouds that obscured the top of Long Man Hill. The aircraft struck the hill approximately 500 feet from the top and disintegrated upon impact. Yet another aircraft and four more souls lost to the war to free Europe from Nazi control.
The remains of three of the crew were sent back to their homes for burial. Gibson was buried in Newkirk, Kay County, Oklahoma; Young was buried in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan; and Campbell was buried in Lincolnton, Lincoln County, North Carolina.
Maloney of Westchester County, New York, was buried at the American Battle Monuments Commission's Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, in Coton, Cambridgeshire, England.
The 314th Air Refueling Squadron of Beale Air Force Base, California, remembered the 314th Troop Carrier Squadron crew of 44-77861 on the 75th anniversary of their ultimate sacrifice. May they rest in peace.