HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – This year marks the 73rd anniversary of when a B-17 plane crashed in Mount Tom, killing everyone aboard.
Dozens of people gathered on Mount Tom Saturday to pay tribute to the 25 servicemen, who died returning from World War II.
On July 9, 1946 the B-17 plane crashed into the side of Mount Tom just minutes before landing at Westover. Since 1996 there has been a memorial service at the site of the crash to the keep the legacy of those men alive.
Al Stettner, nephew of Alfred Warm who died in the crash told 22News, “He was 19 years old when he died. He lived a short life most of them were very young so the fact that he’s remembered, the fact that his service is remembered he made the ultimate sacrifice, it’s very important.”
The site of the crash had no permanent memorial for the first 50 years, but in 1994 an all-volunteer committee designed and raised all of the funds to create a permanent monument, dedicated to all 25 servicemen in 1996.
“I still have it today in my office in Northampton,” said Chairman Robert Cahillane. “That piece of lava that I saved, thinking of the men that got killed in that plane crash.”
Many of the servicemen were from other parts of the country. To make sure these men’s legacies carried on, one woman from the original B-17 committee tracked down the families of all 25 men.
Linda Abrams told 22News, “Just trying to find the people because 50 years had gone by, you know this was before the internet if you can imagine searching for people before the internet. A lot of phone calls.”
To this day hikers can find pieces of debris scattered on Mount Tom near the crash site. Many people will then lay the debris on the memorial.