Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Many Airmen Killed in Training: The Story of One Pilot

WWII historian and collector Clint Daniel has graciously allowed me to use his story about the crash of an F-5-E Lockheed P-38 Lightning during a training exercise near Barnsdall, Oklahoma. His 13-year-old father looked up in the sky one day in July 1945 and saw two P-38's dogfighting at high altitude. One began screaming to earth, and despite the best efforts of the pilot, the plane crashed and burned. Clint's dad rushed to the site, and found the aircraft totally destroyed. It was obvious the pilot had been killed on impact. He told Clint about this crash for years, and finally, Clint decided to do a little investigation. Using fellow researchers, the internet, and the official Air Corps report, he was able to track down information about the crash his father had told him about so many times. The pilot, 2nd Lt. Charles Schleifer, was from Cederberg, Wisconsin. Schleifer was only 23 and had been trained to fly as a P-38 photo reconaissance pilot. For the entire story, click here http://danielsww2.com/page9.html

It is important to remember that literally thousands of young men (and some young women as well) were killed during World War Two in training accidents. According to my research, 40,000 airmen were killed in combat. Another 15,000 were killed in training Stateside, and as many as 65,000 were killed in training and non-combat accidents overseas. Fully one-third of the 65,200 aircraft lost in the war were lost in Stateside training. Stateside fatalities accounted for 12.5% of all Air Corps casualties.

Though these fine young people never saw combat, they gave their lives for their country and deserve our gratitude.

Clint's website can be accessed here http://danielsww2.com/index.html. He has an impressive collection of WWII memorabilia that is worthy of any large museum.

2nd Lt. Charles Schleifer


Richard Havers said...

Fascinating story and pictures over on the linked web site.

r morris said...

Yes, indeed. Clint has an amazing site. He's got an awesome WWII collection and he shares it in the website. He's a dedicated historian, collecting for the right reasons, and I salute him.