HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – An emotional ceremony at the B-17 memorial on Mt. Tom, as family members and many others remembered 25 World War II servicemen who were killed in a plane crash in 1946.
They were on their way back home from Greenland, after helping win the war in Europe.
You can see the names of all 25 servicemen on this monument and there were some families seeing it for the first time Saturday. This was all made possible because of a hiker pushing the community to get this done.
“Norman insisted that there should be something here, and sometimes one good person is all it takes,” said Rick Lee, member of the B-17 Memorial Committee.
Because of Norman Cote’s persistence, the monument was erected in 1996 and since then, the B-17 Memorial Committee has held a remembrance every July to honor their sacrifice.
Roses were placed on top of the monument, one for each victim. There was also a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing’s 15-C Eagles. The person leading the ceremony was Al Stettner, the nephew of Alfred Warm, whose ring was found at the crash site.
“Among the wreckage was my uncle’s ring, it has my initials AW,” said Al Stettner. “Its been passed down to me. I’ve been named after him. He was Alfred Warm, I’m Alfred Stettner, so I wear the ring that was found after the accident.”
Sue Miller came from Illinois to see her uncle honored at this memorial for the first time, after recently learning about the annual remembrance.
“I didn’t realized there was a ceremony held here every summer since the original one,” said Miller. “So fortunately I reached out and Al Stettner called me and made arrangements and I’m so thrilled to be here.”
She often wonder how things would have been if Arthur made it home.
“They didn’t get to fulfull their lives. But the ripple effect that it had on families always had me wonder how our family dynamic would have been differnet if Arthur had lived and had a family.”
Congressman Richard Neal and State Senator and veteran John Velis provided words of comfort to the families. Its a story that reminds us how short life can be, especially for those in the military.
“The 25 who died on their way home honorably serving their country, are still honored so many years later, its what America is all about,” said Stettner.