Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
On December 5, 1943 a routine night training mission went bad when a Consolidated B-24E was posted missing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Extensive search missions were flown without result. Clint Hester the father of 41-28463's co-pilot 2nd Lt. Robert M. Hester made summer trips into the High Sierra spanning seventeen years searching for his son's plane. Two geologists discovered the crash site on July 29, 1960 more than one year after the death of Clint Hester. Two military sponsored expeditions were made to Hester Lake in 1960-61 to recover the remains of the crew. Only partial success was achieved. Freezing water temperatures, high altitude environment, and a deep lake made SCUBA diving very dangerous. The remains that were recovered are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in one grave except for S/Sgt Robert O. Bursey who is buried in Rutland, Vermont.
Over the years several expeditions have been mounted to reach Hester Lake with dive equipment in order to better survey the remains of Consolidated B-24E 41-28463 and its crew. Only a few have been successful in reaching the 11,266' lake far from any trails and protected by the daunting terrain of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The only approach to Hester Lake is up a steep and dangerous boulder strewn gully above LeConte Canyon. Hester Lake is up to 110' in depth and about 600yds in length. Its frigid waters still preserve the plane and the remains of the crew.
The crewmen of B-24E 41-28463 are: Pilot, 2nd Lt. Charles W. Turvey; co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Hester; navigator, 2nd Lt. William T. Cronin; bombardier, 2n Lt. Ellis H. Fish; flight engineer, S/Sgt Robert O. Bursey; and radio operator, Sgt. Howard A. Wandtke.
Hester Lake derives its name today to honor Clint Hester who would not give up the search for his son and crew aboard 41-28463.