World War II plane crash on Mt. Tam recalled 65 years later

Full story: Marin Independent Journal

Charlie Gallagher holds some of the wreckage scattered among the bushes at the site of a 1944 plane crash on Mt.
Comments
1 - 20 of 39 Comments Last updated Apr 27, 2013
First Prev
of 2
Next Last
Cate

Santa Clara, CA

#1 Nov 30, 2009
Anyone wonder if the crash has anything to do with the extreme cancer rates in Marin? It is one of our watersheds, right? Perhaps the orange bikes were disguised weapons laden with something toxic? Just a thought... why else would the Navy deny bikes being on board when clearly the boys saw them and that's not something youngsters would mistake or forget.
Hmmm.
ps - I'm glad to see this story come to light. I'd hear about it myself from a native MV man and it was only after searching Google and finding pictures and a story about the crash hidden amongst a post about native plant pictures did I ever find something about this.
BUDDY BOY

Novato, CA

#2 Nov 30, 2009
Cate wrote:
Anyone wonder if the crash has anything to do with the extreme cancer rates in Marin?
It's never a good idea to begin your comment with a ridiculous, nonsensical question. But here's another possibility: Perhaps these were extraterrestrials sent to this planet to assimilate and study our ways. And perhaps they are still amongst us, trying to figure out how a SMART train going nowhere is going to solve our commute problems...
unknown reality

San Leandro, CA

#3 Nov 30, 2009
Anyone wonder if the crash has anything to do with the extreme cancer rates in Marin?

I think we all need to stop worrying so much about
cancer? Every day I'm reminded I.m going to die from cancer, or a heart attack--media has made it worse.

Anyway, Nancy Skinner used to take me hiking. She's
a nice lady and raised great kids. She was an
environmentalist before it was fashionable.

Happy Holidays Everyone--
Out of Control State

Novato, CA

#4 Nov 30, 2009
Maybe this had something to do with the JFK shootings? Maybe something to do with UFOs?
Or, maybe it was just a Navy plane that crashed. Why do people think everything the gov does is some big secret or conspiricy?
Spooky

San Francisco, CA

#5 Nov 30, 2009
Maybe the mystery surrounds an intelligence operation. Japanese bicycles etc., a plane type that had a recon role, heading toward Hawaii, mystery person(s) aboard. All smells like some kind of infiltration of Japanese territory of some sort. Good story.

“Built like a ”

Since: Aug 08

North Korean missile!.

#8 Nov 30, 2009
A B-25 or B-26 bomber hit the backside of Whites Hill, near the Cascades Gates about a week after WWII.
There's still the radial motors, and bit of metal back behind Tamarancho, My Brothers & I found the rear landing wheel in a creekbed back in the 70's.
PeteBikerMan

United States

#9 Nov 30, 2009
If Sutliffe and Heimann were 9 years old in 1944 then must be 74, not 77 years old as reported in the article.

Strange and intruiging tale though.
K in SA

Mill Valley, CA

#10 Nov 30, 2009
Commander Bunny wrote:
A B-25 or B-26 bomber hit the backside of Whites Hill, near the Cascades Gates about a week after WWII.
There's still the radial motors, and bit of metal back behind Tamarancho, My Brothers & I found the rear landing wheel in a creekbed back in the 70's.
It was a B-17 that crashed on top of Whites Hill,#R5510, May 16 1946. The engine you found is from the B-17.
Tom Boyte

Peoria, AZ

#11 Nov 30, 2009
Interesting, I never heard about this crash. I knew of one in Ignacio on the hills above the I.J. building during the war. Now that thhe news is out, parts will probably arrear for sale on E-bay!

Tom El Mirage, AZ.

“Built like a ”

Since: Aug 08

North Korean missile!.

#12 Nov 30, 2009
K in SA wrote:
<quoted text>It was a B-17 that crashed on top of Whites Hill,#R5510, May 16 1946. The engine you found is from the B-17.
Huh, good to know...Thanks for clearing that up.
Dave

Union City, CA

#13 Nov 30, 2009
I do hope that people that do find the crash site respect the debris that is still there and leave it alone and as is.

It's a remark of respect.

Dave...
Snark Attack

Hyattsville, MD

#14 Nov 30, 2009
Cate wrote:
Anyone wonder if the crash has anything to do with the extreme cancer rates in Marin? It is one of our watersheds, right? Perhaps the orange bikes were disguised weapons laden with something toxic? Just a thought... why else would the Navy deny bikes being on board when clearly the boys saw them and that's not something youngsters would mistake or forget.
Hmmm.
ps - I'm glad to see this story come to light. I'd hear about it myself from a native MV man and it was only after searching Google and finding pictures and a story about the crash hidden amongst a post about native plant pictures did I ever find something about this.
This is on the south side of the mountain. All the lakes are on the north side so it couldn't have made it to the water supply.

There is still a pretty big crater where the plane hit. If they want people to leave the wreckage alone why are they showing a picture of someone holding pieces of it?

“Photographer”

Since: Apr 08

San Rafael & Mill Valley

#15 Nov 30, 2009
I've hiked up there twice the past year. The exact crash site is hard to find. There are some charred wood and trees in the area off of the Vic Haun trail. However, it's well concealed now. Nothing obvious at all left.

The radial engine in Cataract Creek is easy to find. That was from a Corsair that crashed there in 1945. I've plenty of photos of that.

1944 crash site on map here:
http://www.kenpapai.com/blog/hikes/HikeMap14x...

Radial Engine in Cataract creek:
http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/00...
Ranger Matt

Corte Madera, CA

#16 Nov 30, 2009
“The squadron has no heroes, just individuals and crews who did their duty to the limit of their ability.”
Unit Record Book of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208
Although nearly forgotten to history, during WWII there were approximately 66,000 “major” military aviation accidents in the continental United States resulting in the deaths of approximately 25,000 people. Many historians now consider these losses as “essentially a third front to the air war.” Within Marin County there were at least 60 “major” accidents killing at least 116 people. Of these accidents, three occurred on or near Mount Tamalpais resulting in the deaths of 10 pilots and aircrews and the loss of five military aircraft. Today we remember one of those accidents, the loss of PBM-5 “Peter-9” and the 8 members of Combat Aircrew Charlie lost on 11/30/44.
“Peter-9” was part of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208 (VPB-208). The PBM was a large two engine, long-range “flying boat;” VPB-208 used them for maritime patrol, convoy coverage, anti-submarine warfare and “dumbo”(rescue) missions. From 1942 through mid 1944 the 208 served in the Atlantic and Caribbean, primarily based in Key West, FL. Initially it flew with the PBM-3. It saw limited combat action and suffered no serious casualties during this period. By mid 1944 the U-boat war was winding down and more Patrol Squadrons were needed in the Pacific Theater for the war against Japan. In August 1944 the 208 was reassigned to Norfolk, VA and began transition training for the PBM-5, an improved version of the PBM. The training continued through early fall at the NAS in Harvey Point, SC.
On 10/5/44 VPB-208 received a brand new PBM-5 Mariner BuNo 45415. It was soon designated “Peter-9” by the 208. It was assigned to Patrol Plane Commander Lt. Joseph L. Resley of Las Cruces, NM and his crew, which was known as “Combat Aircrew Charlie.” Lt. Resley was an experienced pilot, who had on the night of 7/4/44 made a one engine emergency landing at sea after suffering engine trouble. The rest of “Combat Aircrew Charlie” were:
Lt.(jg) Thomas W. Oliver, Jr., First Pilot, of Valdesta, GA
Ens. Chapin B. Miller, Second Pilot, of West Newton, MA
Harry L. Holland, Chief Aviation Machinist Mate, Plane Captain, of Hawkinsville, GA
Rodney Jeffers, Aviation Machinist Mate Second Class, First Machinist, of Jersey City, NJ
Thomas J. Joyce, Jr., Aviation Radioman Second Class, First Radioman, of Bellair, OH
John R. Kelly, Aviation Radioman Third Class, Second Radioman, of Dover Plains, NY
Wayne D. Paxson, Aviation Ordinanceman Second Class, First Ordinanceman, of Riverside, CA

continued...
Ranger Matt

Corte Madera, CA

#17 Nov 30, 2009
contining...

By early November 1944 VPB-208 was ordered to proceed to Alameda Naval Air Station for reassignment to the Pacific Fleet. The 208 arrived at Alameda on 11/15/44 and was officially assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Once at Alameda the 208 began to train for its trans-pacific flight to Hawaii. On the evening of 11/30/44 12 of the 208’s PBMs in 4 flights of 3 aircraft departed Alameda on the trans-pacific ferry flight to Hawaii.“Peter-9” was part of this flight. The weather that night was rainy and overcast, with poor visibility.“Peter-9” was enroute to rendezvous with its flight when it developed possible engine trouble near the Golden Gate and turned back for Alameda.“Peter-9” attempted to contact Alameda Tower, but is told to “stand-by,” after that nothing more is heard from “Peter-9.” Two other PBMs from the group of 12 did return to Alameda after developing engine trouble that night.“Peter-9” was flying in northwesterly course towards Mount Tamalpais, flying over the Mountain Home and Double Bow Knot areas. Seconds later “Peter-9” struck the ground once, knocking over a telephone pole on a ridge. It continued in level flight for a short distance before hitting the ground again and exploding, killing all 8 members of “Combat Aircrew Charlie.” The crash was seen and heard by some living in Mill Valley, but when the witnesses reported it to authorities they were told they were mistaken and any “explosion” was caused by jettisoned drop tanks and not an actual crash. It was not until late on the next day, December 1st, when five boys reported to authorities that they found the wreckage of “Peter-9” and the remains of the crew while “looking for the drop tank,” did local authorities or the Navy realize that “Peter-9” was lost with all on board. Soon after the Marin County Sheriff sent out a search party, which arrived at the wreckage of nearly 24 hours after it had crashed.
Lt. Resley was buried at the Masonic Cemetery in his hometown of Las Cruces, NM and is listed on the Memorial Tower, at his alma mater, New Mexico State University.
After the loss of Peter 9 VPB-208 had little time to mourn those lost. VPB-208 served in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns, performing rescue (Dumbo) missions and maritime patrol. They rescued 25 men in open water rescues, sometimes while under enemy fire. VPB-208 shot down four Japanese aircraft and sank ten Japanese vessels. A dozen members of VPB-208 earned the Purple Heart. Virtually every officer and man of VPB-208 won the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts in the Pacific. Finally, on 9/2/45 officers and men of VPB-208 were at Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.
Ranger Matt

Corte Madera, CA

#18 Nov 30, 2009
Someone things got reversed...

“The squadron has no heroes, just individuals and crews who did their duty to the limit of their ability.”

Unit Record Book of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208

Although nearly forgotten to history, during World War II there were approximately 66,000 “major” military aviation accidents in the continental United States resulting in the deaths of approximately 25,000 people. According to Anthony J. Mireles, author of “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents in the United States 1941-1945”, many historians now consider these losses as “essentially a third front to the air war.” Within Marin County there were at least 60 “major” accidents killing at least 116 people. Of these accidents, three occurred on or near MMWD’s Mount Tamalpais Watershed resulting in the deaths of 10 pilots and aircrews and the loss of five military aircraft. Today we are here to remember one of those accidents, the loss of PBM-5 “Peter-9” and the eight members of Combat Aircrew Charlie lost on November 30, 1944.

“Peter-9” was part of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208 (VPB-208). The PBM was large two engine, long-range Martin Aircraft “flying boat;” VPB-208 used them for maritime patrol, convoy coverage, anti-submarine warfare and “dumbo”(rescue) missions. The men of the 208 called referred to themselves as the “P-Boat Sailors.” From 1942 through mid 1944 the 208 served in the Atlantic and Caribbean, primarily based in Key West, FL. Initially it flew with the PBM-3. It saw limited combat action and suffered no serious casualties during this period. By summer of 1944 the U-boat war was winding down and more Navy Patrol Squadrons were needed in the Pacific Theater for the war against Japan. In August 1944 the 208 was reassigned to Norfolk, VA and began transition training for the PBM-5, an improved version of the PBM. The training continued through early fall at the NAS in Harvey Point, SC.

On October 5, 1944 VPB-208 received a brand new PBM-5 Mariner BuNo (Navy Serial Number) 45415. It was soon designated “Peter-9” by the 208. It was assigned to Patrol Plane Commander Lt. Joseph L. Resley of Las Cruces, NM and his crew, which was known as “Combat Aircrew Charlie.” Lt. Resley was an experienced pilot, who had on the night of July 4, 1944 made a one engine emergency landing at sea after suffering engine trouble. The rest of “Combat Aircrew Charlie” were:

Lt.(jg) Thomas W. Oliver, Jr., First Pilot, of Valdesta, GA
Ens. Chapin B. Miller, Second Pilot, of West Newton, MA
Harry L. Holland, Chief Aviation Machinist Mate, Plane Captain, of Hawkinsville, GA
Rodney Jeffers, Aviation Machinist Mate Second Class, First Machinist, of Jersey City, NJ
Thomas J. Joyce, Jr., Aviation Radioman Second Class, First Radioman, of Bellair, OH
John R. Kelly, Aviation Radioman Third Class, Second Radioman, of Dover Plains, NY
Wayne D. Paxson, Aviation Ordinanceman Second Class, First Ordinanceman, of Riverside, CA
Ranger Matt

Corte Madera, CA

#19 Nov 30, 2009
“The squadron has no heroes, just individuals and crews who did their duty to the limit of their ability.”

Unit Record Book of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208

Although nearly forgotten to history, during World War II there were approximately 66,000 “major” military aviation accidents in the continental United States resulting in the deaths of approximately 25,000 people. According to Anthony J. Mireles, author of “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents in the United States 1941-1945”, many historians now consider these losses as “essentially a third front to the air war.” Within Marin County there were at least 60 “major” accidents killing at least 116 people. Of these accidents, three occurred on or near MMWD’s Mount Tamalpais Watershed resulting in the deaths of 10 pilots and aircrews and the loss of five military aircraft. Today we are here to remember one of those accidents, the loss of PBM-5 “Peter-9” and the eight members of Combat Aircrew Charlie lost on November 30, 1944.

“Peter-9” was part of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 208 (VPB-208). The PBM was large two engine, long-range Martin Aircraft “flying boat;” VPB-208 used them for maritime patrol, convoy coverage, anti-submarine warfare and “dumbo”(rescue) missions. The men of the 208 called referred to themselves as the “P-Boat Sailors.” From 1942 through mid 1944 the 208 served in the Atlantic and Caribbean, primarily based in Key West, FL. Initially it flew with the PBM-3. It saw limited combat action and suffered no serious casualties during this period. By summer of 1944 the U-boat war was winding down and more Navy Patrol Squadrons were needed in the Pacific Theater for the war against Japan. In August 1944 the 208 was reassigned to Norfolk, VA and began transition training for the PBM-5, an improved version of the PBM. The training continued through early fall at the NAS in Harvey Point, SC.

On October 5, 1944 VPB-208 received a brand new PBM-5 Mariner BuNo (Navy Serial Number) 45415. It was soon designated “Peter-9” by the 208. It was assigned to Patrol Plane Commander Lt. Joseph L. Resley of Las Cruces, NM and his crew, which was known as “Combat Aircrew Charlie.” Lt. Resley was an experienced pilot, who had on the night of July 4, 1944 made a one engine emergency landing at sea after suffering engine trouble. The rest of “Combat Aircrew Charlie” were:

Lt.(jg) Thomas W. Oliver, Jr., First Pilot, of Valdesta, GA
Ens. Chapin B. Miller, Second Pilot, of West Newton, MA
Harry L. Holland, Chief Aviation Machinist Mate, Plane Captain, of Hawkinsville, GA
Rodney Jeffers, Aviation Machinist Mate Second Class, First Machinist, of Jersey City, NJ
Thomas J. Joyce, Jr., Aviation Radioman Second Class, First Radioman, of Bellair, OH
John R. Kelly, Aviation Radioman Third Class, Second Radioman, of Dover Plains, NY
Wayne D. Paxson, Aviation Ordinanceman Second Class, First Ordinanceman, of Riverside, CA
Ranger Matt

Corte Madera, CA

#20 Nov 30, 2009
Sorry for the extra posts, things appeared to have been lost in cyberspace...

The phone line knocked down was the old abandoned phoneline to the Taveran of Tamalpais.

The bikes likely belonged to the Aircrew for use around their bases. The unit record book of the squadron has pictures of squadron members on bikes by PBMs on the seaplane ramps.

A Navy admiral was killed in a seaplane crash in Mendocino County in 1943 or so. It was A Pan Am Clipper being used by the Navy.

Ignacio crashed mentioned in the comments killed 14, it was an LB30 (an export version of the B-24)that crashed there on a cargo/ferrying flight in 1942.

"If they want people to leave the wreckage alone why are they showing a picture of someone holding pieces of it?" People who find the wreckage are going to pick up pieces to look at, just respect the site and take only pictures. The wreckage is a legally protected historic resource.
MNT BIKE CHAMP

South San Francisco, CA

#21 Nov 30, 2009
cool
Chuck J

Vallejo, CA

#22 Nov 30, 2009
Good job Matt, the eight servicemen that died there 65 years ago today deserve to be remembered and honored for the ultimate sacrifice they made serving our country. I too hope all will respect the site and leave the remaining wreckage there.

Tell me when this thread is updated: (Registration is not required)

Add to my Tracker Send me an email

First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Novato Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
CA California seeks to ban free, single-use carryo... (Jun '10) 1 hr Macko mono 5,000
CA CA Proposition 23 - Global Warming (Oct '10) 10 hr Tank ever 7,926
CA Judge overturns California's ban on same-sex ma... (Aug '10) 10 hr landluber suck 200,576
Got wood ? Wed Dr_Zorderz 13
CA California Proposition 19: the Marijuana Legali... (Oct '10) Aug 26 matches lighters 15,961
Former Tam High coach's sex trial goes to jury (Nov '10) Aug 25 ToMark 36
Robin Williams Tunnel? Movement launched to ren... Aug 24 Magnolia 14
•••

Novato News Video

•••
•••

Novato Jobs

•••
Enter and win $5000
•••
•••

Novato People Search

Addresses and phone numbers for FREE

•••

Novato News, Events & Info

Click for news, events and info in Novato
•••

Personal Finance

Mortgages [ See current mortgage rates ]
•••