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Navy Monument - PBY-5A wreck

On January 31, 1945, a World War II Catalina Amphibious Patrol Bomber (PBY-5A) carrying five crew and three passengers flew into a storm on the Southern Oregon Coast.  They were en route to Sand Point, Seattle, Washington from Terminal Island, San Pedro, California & had fallen at about 3PM, purportedly striking trees on January 31, 1945, tumbling down deep in the South Chetco watershed as it crashed here, taking the lives of all eight service men on board:

  • U.S. Navy Lieutenant Laurence M. Courtis of Massachusetts
  • 2nd Lieutenant US Army Douglas C I Bacchus of Washington
  • Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Petty Officer Leon Albert Wilcomb of Montana
  • Aviation Radioman Petty Officer 2nd Class James Francis Quill of Washington, D.C.
  • Aviation Radioman Petty Officer 3rd Class Earl D Sylvester of Michigan
  • Seaman First Class Bejamin J Freeman of Arizona
  • Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer Benno Clair Beck of California
  • Ensign Alvin Dallas Ellis of Kansas.

    Due to the steep terrain, the men were buried here at the wreckage.  In 1957, twelve years after the crash, a bronze monument was erected by volunteers to honor the fallen.  


    The wreckage of the plane is seen on both sides of the monument.  The fairly intact wing has a few inscribed signatures, the oldest being around 1998.  A few relatives of the deceased have made their arduous journey here to pay respect.  More of the wreckage is seen down the slope the last 100 feet to the South Fork Chetco River however it is in a tangle of flora.


    The trail to this site has often been left neglected & overgrown.  It is not often visited due to the fact that it requires over 3,000 feet of vertical descent from the main trailhead, following the old bulldozer route.  During this visit, the trail had been cleared four years ago by the Siskiyou Mountain Club however many new bushes & felled burned timber has made for an unpleasant bushwhack, of which I suspect will only become worse if not maintained.


    The remains of the plane are a historic site and should not be removed or defaced.  Please respect the memory and sacrifice of these men.



    Copyright: William L
    Type: Spherical
    Resolution: 20756x10378
    Taken: 08/05/2021
    Uploaded: 11/05/2021


    Tags: usnr; klamath mountains; oregon; south fork chetco river; woods; navy monument; wreck; airplane; plane; crash; aviation; world war 2; wwii; ww2; kalmiopsis wilderness; pby-5a; military; bomber; wing; ferns
    More About USA

    The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.

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