Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bakers Creek Air Crash Commemoration Ceremony


Selfridge Gate to Arlington National Cemetery
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
June 13, 2014
9:00 am
 COL Fern O. Sumpter, Garrison Commander, and
CSM Lavender will place a wreath at the
Bakers Creek Air Crash monument, followed by Taps.
Join family relatives and friends of the 40 American servicemen killed in World War II’s worse aviation disaster in the Southwest Pacific.  We will be honored by the presence of Air Commodore Gary Martin, Air Attaché from the Embassy of Australia, Bill Lloyd, President of 317th Veterans Group, and Col Benson, Mackay RSL Historian from Australia.

A reception, sponsored by Definition Media Ltd (UK), will follow the ceremony.
Allow extra time for the security checks when arriving at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall

The event marks the 71st Anniversary Commemoration of a tragic wartime accident where 40 members of the U.S. Army Air Corps perished at Bakers Creek, near Mackay, Australia, in 1943.
Officially forgotten for 57 years, family members are seeking closure for remember loved ones.

Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, has directed the Ft. Myer Garrison to conduct appropriate annual ceremonies on the anniversary date of the crash.
The event will bring together from across the United States, family relatives of the casualties, retired military leaders and WW II veterans of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Casualty families are from 23 states across the United States, six are from Pennsylvania.  The servicemen were being returned from R&R leave in Australia to the jungle battle fields in New Guinea during the decisive Papua Campaign of 1943. The airplane crashed shortly after takeoff. The memorial marker is carved from Queensland pink granite donated by citizens of Queensland and the government of Australia.

Although the accident was the deadliest plane crash in the Southwest Pacific theatre during the war – and remains Australia’s worst air disaster – it was unreported in the United States because of wartime censorship restrictions on disclosing American troop movements.
Retired professor Robert S. Cutler of George Washington University, whose late father supervised the loading of the passengers on that fateful flight, wrote in his book, Mackay’s Flying Fortress (CQU Press) that the incident originally was deemed a “military secret” to prevent wartime disclosure.

“In recent years, however,” Cutler said, “thanks to the tireless work of people in Australia and in the United States, the full magnitude of the disaster was uncovered and now there is a wide national recognition of this historic event.”
The members of the Association believe these fallen servicemen deserve to be remembered at this time. “Our group of military veterans and casualty families will have its final measure of closure,” says Cutler, “as we honor the families of these forgotten heroes of World War II – for the loved ones   they either loved and lost, or never had the chance to know...” 

Last month, two developments associated with documenting the “Bakers Creek Air Crash Story” happened:

        1.  Definition Media Ltd, a British television company, completed filming in the US and in Australia for its forthcoming television documentary about the largely-unknown Flying Fortress crash at Bakers Creek in Australia. The program is expected to air in Australia, UK, and US, this autumn.

        2.  Boolarong Press in Brisbane recently published an updated edition of the book, Australia’s Worst Aviation Disaster, marking the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the tragic WW II crash.


Bakers Creek Memorial, Queensland Australia

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