Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

August 29, 2013

All crewmen of downed B-52 deserve the same recogition

I recently guided family members of one of the victims of the 1964 B-52 bomber crash on a tour of the monuments in memory of the servicemen who lost their lives in the accident.

We were in agreement that more recognition is due for these men who gave their lives in the service of their country.  Navigator Robert Payne, who perished on the Poplar Lick ORV (off-road vehicle) Trail, is memorialized by a monument that is 2 1/2 miles down the ORV trail from New Germany Road. The closing of the road, and the consequent reduction in the number of people in that area, has left the memory of Robert Payne nearly as isolated as he was, himself, in the winter of 1964.

A sign at the top of the trail, on New Germany Road, explaining the story of the crash, and informing the public of the location of Payne’s memorial, is a small price to pay to preserve the memory of this fallen hero.

Bombardier, Robert Townley, whose family was in the area recently, is memorialized by a monument that is on private ground, on Pine Swamp Road, near Barton. Again, a parking area for several cars, on public property along Westernport Road, a sign with the story of the crash, and a monument to Robert Townley, is minor compensation compared to the sacrifice that Maj. Townley made.

Perhaps, there could even be a letter box at the monument in Grantsville, with directions to the monuments for the three servicemen who perished in the crash. Time should not diminish the appreciation for the sacrifice that these men made. They died for their country the same as if they were fighting on foreign soil.

The monument for Melvin Wooten, the tailgunner on the B-52, in West Salisbury, Pa., should be the standard for all of the monuments. It’s inpiring to see the beautiful stone, the American flags, and the well kept flower bed that surrounds the monument. A sign at the site lists all of the organizations who contributed to the creation and maintenance of the site. Congratulations to all. It restores my faith.

The two servicemen who perished in Garrett County deserve the same recognition.

2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the crash. In recogniton of this milestone, let us make more effort to preserve the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, when they fell from the crippled plane into our area, in the snowy darkness of Jan. 13 of 1964.

This is no way to treat our veterans.

Melvin Schriver Jr.

Midland

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