Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

Project Remembrance

Articles and Videos article: Long Beach Divers Uncover 54-Year Old Aircraft Wreckage
KNBC4 News video: Search for Missing Jet
CNN: Fighter jet missing 5 decades found off California coast
Pentagon Channel video

Memorial Service March 5, 2010

  LA Times article;  "A Service for 2 Fallen Airmen", March 6, 2010 article: 
"Memorial service held for crew of 1955 military plane crash", March 6, 2010 photo gallery 
  Aerochannel video 

Press Release


For More Information see


1st Lt. Richard M. Theiler USAF Reserve, assigned to the Air Defense Command, pilot of the Lockheed T-33A 51-9227 that disappeared after take-off from LAX on 10/15/55. 1st Lt. Paul D. Smith USAF Reserve assigned to the ADC was in the back seat. Their mission was a navigation training that included night flying experience. Theiler was from Tomahawk, WI. and Smith was from Midland, TX. (Photo courtesy of the Theiler Family & the Smith Family)

USAF 1st Lt. Thomas C. Theiler brother of 1st Lt. Richard “Dick” Martin Theiler, and friend of 1st Lt. Paul Dale Smith. Tom Theiler participated in the search for his brother in October 1955, and was first to receive the official notification from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that his brother’s plane had been found in Santa Monica Bay.

Lockheed T-33A on pylon at Zamperini Field, Torrance, CA.
(P. J. Macha photo)



Lockheed T-33A USAF 48-0513, one of more than 5,000 T-33A's manufactured during the late 1940's to late 1950's.
(P. J. Macha photo)

Front frame of the J-33-A-35 engine.
(photo courtesy of


General Electric J-33-A-35 jet engine showing the effects of impact compression damage.
(photo courtesy of


Broken compressor tubes on GE J-33-A-35 engine.
(photo courtesy of


Tire from main landing gear. The landing gear leg and wheel hub are no loner visible, victims of corrosion.
(photo courtesy of

All members of UB88.Org and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who investigated and recovered the T-33A were presented with this certificate of commendation by USMC SSgt. Ernesto Gutierrez on behalf of Congresswoman Jane Harman. The presentation was made on the evening of March 5, 2010 at a dinner of thanks and remembrance provided by Tom Theiler at the Proud Bird Restaurant near LAX.

Memorial Service
March 5, 2010

On March 5, 2010 the United States Air Force conducted a “Full Military Honors” ceremony with a twenty-one gun salute near LAX for more than fifty members of the Theiler and Smith families.

 The USAF Honor Guard in action on 3/5/10.

Calm seas and clear skies were hallmarks of the memorial ceremony. USAF Honor Guard prior to the twenty-one gun salute.

Tom Theiler on the right with Charles Baker on the left representing the Paul Dale Smith family.

USAF Honor Guard members en route to ceremony over the crash site.

Three Los Angeles County Life Guard boats and one Los Angeles County Fire Boat escorted the next of kin to the T-33A crash site.

The buglers sound taps as the USAF Honor Guard salutes.

A memorial wreath over the T-33A crash site.

A final salute and farewell form Los Angeles County Fire Boat 110.

Plaque donated by Pat Macha and Gary Fabian



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