Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West


At 7:30pm on  December 2, 1942, Boeing B-17F #42-5197 with the 339th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, took off from Pocatello Army Air Base for a night navigation training mission.  A half hour later the aircraft was seen circling the town of Grace, Idaho, at very low altitude.  Residents reported that the bomber then headed east toward the northern Wasatch Mountains in bad weather conditions, with poor visibility.  The pilot and co-pilot sighted the mountain range at the last minute, and they pulled the B-17 into a steep climb to avoid colliding with an 8500 ft. peak.  A violent stall followed, and the aircraft plunged into a heavily timbered area of Eight Mile Canyon.  Impacting in a near-vertical descent, the aircraft disintegrated, killing the 10 crewmen on board.  The wreckage was discovered 2 days later by Forest Service rangers. Due to severe snow conditions, the recovery effort wasn’t completed until the spring of 1943.   Site visited 6/7/14.


Pilot                             2nd Lt. Harold K. Simpson          Fitchburg, MA
Copilot                        2nd Lt. Wendell L. Sims               Pasadena, CA
Navigator                    2nd Lt. Thomas J. Wymond        Garden City, MI
Bombardier                2nd Lt.  Chalmers G. Wenrich     Harrisburg, PA
Engineer                     Cpl. Charles L. Walker, Jr.           Philadelphia, PA
Assistant Engineer    Sgt. Neal L. Slinker                      Nebraska City, NE
Radio Operator          S/Sgt. John E. Lazansky             Cary, IL
Assistant Radio          Pfc. Nicholas M. Zompetti          Marlboro, MA
Gunner                         Pvt. Donald W. Seaney              Wichita, KS
Gunner                         Pvt. Joseph R. Hughes               Branford, CT




The only known photo of Lt. Chalmers G. Wenrich, bombardier on board B-17F 42-5197 was taken in 1933 when Lt. Wenrich was only sixteen. (Photo courtesy John K. Robin)


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