JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The lives of six crew members and 35 passengers aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress Aircraft that crashed shortly after take-off June 14, 1943, were remembered 72 years later June 12, 2015 during at formal ceremony at the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
The ceremony took place at the Bakers Creek Air Crash Monument near the Selfridge Gate entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
The event commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the air crash in Queensland, Australia.
The Soldiers killed in the crash were returning from a rest and relaxation period from the war, and were headed back to the Papua, New Guinea, for continued service. For still unknown reasons, the aircraft plummeted to the ground only a couple minutes after takeoff, landing in fields near the town of Bakers Creek, some five miles from the city of Mackay.
Joan R. Asboth places a flower of remembrance June 12 at Bakers Creek Air Crash Monument near the Selfridge Gate entrance to Arlington National Cemetery on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall during the Bakers Creek Memorial Ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the air crash in Queensland, Australia, that took the lives of 40 Army Air Corps members during World War II. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Damien Salas)
During the ceremony, Australian Air Attach� and Assistant Defense Attach�, Air Commodore Gary Martin and Australian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission, Ambassador Caroline Millar performed a wreath-laying ceremony with JBM-HH Commander Col. Michael Henderson and Command Sgt. Maj. Randall Woods in remembrance of the crash's anniversary.
The monument is located just yards from Arlington National Cemetery, a fitting place as the cemetery serves as a "dramatic back drop" to the Bakers Creek Memorial, said Henderson during a ceremonial speech.
"The rows of tombstones serve to remind us of the many men and women who have served and given their lives for our great nation," he said. "So today, we gather to remember these Soldiers ... who lost their lives in an airplane crash."
The crash of the B-17C is considered to be the worst accident involving a transport aircraft in the southwest Pacific during World War II.
Surviving family members of those killed in the crash attended the JBM-HH-coordinated ceremony alongside Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), who were dressed in World War II-era combat uniforms for the occasion. The family members were given the opportunity to lay a flower of remembrance in honor of their fallen loved ones.
"This is a sacrifice that all Australians do have recollection of," said Martin, who also promised attendees that Australia will always remember Americans as "true and dear friends."
"But most importantly, we will always remember the men who perished in that fateful crash," he said. "I salute the men who passed that day in Mackay."
Center, Master Sgt. Leigh Ann Hinton, vocalist from the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing's Own” sings the national anthem June 12 on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall during the Bakers Creek Memorial Ceremony. The ceremony commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the air crash in Queensland, Australia, that took the lives of 40 Army-Air Corps members during World War II. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Damien Salas)
Robert S. Cutler, executive director of the U.S. chapter of the Bakers Creek Memorial Association, told the crowd that it is "our duty to pay tribute and to remember that these fallen warriors did not die in vain."
Cutler explained that the citizens of Mackay built a monument near the crash site to honor the American's sacrifice at Baker's Creek. br>
"These fallen members of the U.S. Army-Air Corps also deserve to be remembered here in Washington, D.C.," he said.
The monument, a gift to the Secretary of the Army by the Bakers Creek Memorial Association, was placed at the joint base in 2009 and bears the names of the service members who died and the aircraft's sole survivor, according to a 2010 Pentagram report on the first commemoration of the disaster on JBM-HH after the monument was placed. The memorial's base, made of Queensland pink granite, was gifted from the citizens of Queensland and the government of Australia, according to Cutler.
The disaster's only survivor, Cpl. Foye Kenneth Roberts, died in 2004 at age 83.
BBy Damien Salas, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAObr> Provided through DVIDS/a>
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