Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West



On the morning of June 22, 1944, a flight of three P-47D's took off from Pocatello Army Air Base for a dive-bombing practice mission at the Aberdeen Bombing and Gunnery Range north west of the base.  All three were assigned to the 265th Base Unit.  Flying in string formation at 8500 ft., spaced about 1000 ft. apart, they approached the range from the north.  In the lead was Lt. Orville J. Morrison at the controls of #42-28271, with Lt. Raymond A. Jergensen in #42-28279 behind him.  At the rear was Lt. Hyrum W. Kershaw in the third Thunderbolt.  For unexplained reasons, Lt. Jergensen's aircraft dropped down out of the middle of the formation.  As he attempted to climb back into postion, Lt. Morrison headed downward to begin his dive bombing run.  The two aircraft collided in mid-air.  Lt. Kershaw reported, "I glanced down at my altimeter and glanced up, and saw two explosive flashes."  It was 9:05 a.m.  Neither pilot was able to use his parachute, and both Thunderbolts fell to the ground and burned.  Lt. Morrison, age 26, was from Ventura, California, and Lt. Jergensen, age 22, was from Lovelock, Nevada.  One of the crash sites has been located, and the search for the second one continues.  Site visited 10/26/15. Special thanks to Craig Peck and Les Howell for help with locating this site.


Lt. Orville J. Morrison poses next to a Curtiss P-40 at Luke Field, AZ, in this April 1944 photograph.
(Photo courtesy of his niece, Meridee Steffensmeier)


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