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043013 - 104th Fighter Wing Remembers Fallen Heroes with F-100 Rededication

Release Number: 030413

104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
175 Falcon Drive / Barnes Air National Guard Base; Westfield, MA 01085

Public Affairs contacts:
Maj. Mary Harrington / Maj. Matthew Mutti / 104fw.pa@ang.af.mil
(413) 568-9151, x 698-1263 / x 698-1800
Release # 13-17


MEDIA ADVISORY

104th Fighter Wing Remembers Fallen Heroes with F-100 Rededication

(104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base Westfield) -Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. members of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base will honor 12 fallen members with the annual re-dedication of its F-100 Memorial.

Attending dignitaries and ceremony participants will include State Senator Michael Knapik; Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik; Brig. Gen. Gary Keefe, Commander, Massachusetts Air National Guard; honored family members, Mrs. Patricia Coons (relative to Capt. Bannish) and Mrs. Cathy Langlois (relative to Capt. Gibe); USO Board President David Jubinville and USO Executive Director Mr. Alan Tracey.

"Since this monument was commemorated in 1987, the wing has taken time each year to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "We remember that warriors like these have helped make the 104th Fighter Wings one of the greatest wings in the Guard, we never want to forget their sacrifice."

The following names are affixed to the monument:

- 1st Lt. Edward W. Meacham, Monomoy Point, MA, 17 August 1948
- Maj. Robert Anderstrom, Granby, CT, 7 May 1954
- 1st Lt. Richard Brown, Granville, MA, 19 October 1954
- Technical Sergeant Austin A. Cooper, Granville, MA, 19 October 1954
- Capt. Frank A. Gibe, Westfield, MA, 28 July 1956
- Maj. Richard W. Mahoney, New Orleans, LA, 22 April 1961
- 1st Lt. Joseph F. Crehore, Chalons, France, 21 March 1962
- Capt. Hugh M. Lavalle, New York, 16 November 1963
- Capt. John H. Parris, Westfield, MA, 17 July 1964
- Maj. James Romanowicz, Granby, MA, 1 Feb 1965
- Capt. Leonard E. Bannish, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 30 May 1968
- Maj. John S. Southrey, Wells, NY, 17 September 1986


#30


Members of the media are welcome to attend this even. Please coordinate with Maj. Mary Harrington at 104fw.pa@ang.af.mil or (413) 568-9151, x698-1069 to make arrangements.


Below are vignettes of each of the members whom will be memorialized.

1) MEACHAM, 1948 (Westfield, MA)
1st Lt Edward W. Meacham, 28, of Westfield was killed when his P-47 Thunderbolt failed to recover from a dive-bombing run in the range area off Monomoy Point, south of Chatham on Cape Cod on August 17th, 1948.

He was a member of the 131st Fighter Squadron, 102nd Fighter Group, Air Defense Command First Air Force, at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Mass. It was the first field training encampment for the air guard units from Barnes.

In Jan 1951, the 102d fighter group announced a new trophy named after Lt Edward W. Meacham Jr of the 131st and Lt Gilbert Pelland of the 101st of Boston, both killed in aircraft accidents.

Meacham graduated from Westfield High school where he received his varsity letter in track. He, his wife, and almost 3yr old son had just completed building a new house and where set to move in when he returned from training.

Prior to WWII he was a member of the 104th Regiment, Westfield, and while he was a member of the junior class at Westfield State Teachers College, his unit, in Jan 1941, was activated into federal service and left for training at Camp Edwards. He was stationed there for approximately 1 ½ years serving as a supply sergeant before applying for a transfer to the Army Air Corps. He reported for preflight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama as a flying cadet in June, 1942. He received his commission as a 2Lt at Spence Field, GA in March 1943.

Meacham served as a basic instructor at WalnutRidge, Arkansas. Then, he was assigned to the Central Instructors School at Randolph Field, Texas and graduated, with an "A" mark, in May 1943. He also attended the instructor instrument school at Bryant Field, Texas. He spent three years as an instructor at Stewart Field, West Point, NY, and while there, he was promoted to 1LT in November 1943. After Stewart Field was closed as a training base, he was transferred to Alaska and while stationed there, he was promoted to Capt. He returned home with his discharge papers Christmas of 1947. He was a member of the Army Air Force Reserve and joined the 131st Fighter Group about two months before his death. He had been currently employed as a bus driver.


2) ANDERSTROM, 1954 (West Springfield, MA)
Maj. Robert Anderstrom of West Springfield lost his life while returning from a cross-country flight when his F- 51 crashed into a wooded hillside near Granby (Newgate), Connecticut, on May 7th, 1954. He was returning from Mitchel AFB, where he attended a briefing on the participation of the unit in a national Armed Forces Day event.

He was the Commanding Officer of the 8131st Replacement Training Squadron and flying training officer for the Air Technical Detachment.

He graduated from Technical High school, Springfield in 1928, and after training as a draftsman in Pittsfield General Electric plant, he worked there until 1942. He then served 4 ½ yrs in the Air Force in the Pacific theatre as a fighter pilot, rejoining Pittsfield GE plant after the war. In 1952 he went back on active duty with the 131st fighter interceptor squadron, Mass ANG at Barnes airport.

A veteran with over twelve years of service, including action with the 20th Air Force against Japan, he had well over 2000 flying hours, including jet fighter time. He was employed as flying training supervisor for the squadron's Air Technical Detachment. He received full military honors when he was buried on May 10th, 1954. At his funeral, a formation of over 150 officers and airmen represented the squadron.

Maj. Anderstrom was married and left behind 3 young daughters. One of Maj Anderstrom's achievements was that he was the first president of the AFL Draftsmen's Union Local 140 at the Pittsfield General Electric plant. During the 31st annual convention of the AFL American Federation of Technical Engineers in San Francisco, the 100 delegates adopted a motion naming the convention after Maj. Anderstrom.


3) (and 4) BROWN AND COOPER, 1954 (Florence and West Springfield, MA)
1st Lt Richard Brown of Florence and his mechanic, Tech. Sgt. Austin A. Cooper of West Springfield, died when their T-33 Shooting Star crashed into a wooded area near Granville, Mass, shortly after they took off on a night-flying mission on October 19th, 1954.

The night training mission tragically ended when a mechanical failure in the aircraft made it uncontrollable. Trying to stabilize the jet, the aircraft crashed and the pilot and crew chief could not escape.

Through researching both of these members, very little was documented about their lives. It was documented that Lt. Brown left behind his wife, after only being married a few years.

Sgt. Cooper enlisted into the active duty Army Air Corp in June 18, 1943 and was discharged on Nov 2, 1945, later joining the Air National Guard in 1949. Sgt Cooper is the only enlisted member whose name is inscribed on the F-100 monument and in his honor one of the roadways around the installation was named after him, Tech. Sgt. Austin Cooper Blvd.


5) GIBE, 1958 (Westfield, MA)
In 1958, Capt Frank A. Gibe of Westfield died when his F-94B crashed into the woods near Barnes Airport after returning from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks Connecticut, where he was practicing approaches and touch-and-go landings. After making several attempts to land at Barnes on July 28th, 1956, his aircraft crashed into the woods near the runway. The accident investigation revealed his aircraft had a mechanical failure which prevented him from making a safe landing. Capt. Gibe was an experienced pilot with over 700 hours in the F-94B. He left behind his wife & many friends.

6) LAVALLEE, 1961 (place of birth - undocumented)
Capt Hugh M. Lavallee who died when his F-86 crashed in a wooded area in Warren County, NY, while he was on a low level navigational mission in May of 1961. The investigation never identified a cause to the crash.


7) MAHONEY, 1961 (Westfield, MA)
Maj. Richard W. Mahoney died when his jet flamed out and crash-landed near the New Orleans Naval Air Station, New Orleans, LA on April 22nd, 1961.

He and his passenger, Major Philip B. Burke, were returning home from a commander's conference at Ellington AFB, Houston, Texas. Burke walked away from the crash with numerous cuts and mild shock.

Mahoney was married and served as chairman for the reception and guest committee for the 10th anniversary ball on 19 Oct 1957. 16 April 1956, he became the Commander of the 131st FS. In April 1952, Mahoney competed in the national gunnery competition for guard units in Victorville, CA. The team, which included Capt. Grabovsky, Lt Barus and Lt Matera placed 3rd. They flew the F-51-H and the competition consisted largely of individual and formation attacks on towed targets. The team was beat by two California teams which made them the highest ranking out-of-state team.

He had been operations officer of the 131st Tactical Fighter Sq, MANG, for many years. Mahoney, a lifelong resident, was first cousin of Mayor John D. O'Connor of Westfield, MA. Mahoney was a WWII Air Force veteran and was assigned in Europe during the late stages of the war. He was a graduate of Westfield High School and a member of the Kiwanis Club.

His flying career stretched back over 19 years. He enlisted in the flying cadet program in June of 1942 and after graduation he continued training and assignments in this country. He had been with the 131st MANG unit since Dec of 1947.


8) CREHORE, 1962 (Westfield, MA)
1st Lt. Joseph F. Crehore was Westfield's only casualty during the year in France. He died when his F-86 jet dove into a wooded area while flying on a low level navigation mission near Chalons, a province of Cham-pagne, France on March 21st, 1962. He was with the 131st Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phalsbourg AB, France.


9) PARRIS, 1964 (Westfield, MA)
Capt. John H. Parris died while returning to Barnes following formation flying during field training. He lost control of his F-86H while in the landing pattern. He ejected from the aircraft over Hampton pond in Westfield at 500 feet, but his parachute failed to open. While his aircraft glided to a relatively smooth landing in an open field near the pond, multiple swimmers witnessed his fatal ejection.


10) ROMANOWICZ, 1965 (Westfield MA)
Maj. James Romanowicz died when returning from a weapons exercise at MacDill AFB in an F-84. He crashed North East of Westover AFB on Feb 1st, 1965.

Holding the rank of Captain, he was a member of the reception and guest committee for the 10th anniversary ball on 19 October 1957. He was a price estimator of special tools and cutters for the Union Twist Drill company in Athol, MA. He was a veteran of the European and Middle East Theaters of WWII and served in the Army. He enlisted in August, 1942, entered Aviation Cadet Corps the following year, and emerged as a pilot and officer in August 1944.

In July 1952 he had 1200 flying hours, of which nearly 1000 hours are in combat type aircraft such as the F-51 Mustang, F-47 Thunderbolt and P-40 Warhawk. He also flew the C -45 and C-47 transports. He joined the 131st in Dec 1948 and had participated in practically all of its flying activities. He was a fully qualified instrument or "blind-flying" pilot and had qualified as expert in the air with the guns of his F-51.

As of July 1952 he was married with 2 sons. Proficient sportsman, having won his spurs in skating, swimming, hunting, baseball and basketball. Before working with Union Twist Drill he had been a machine operator, a bookkeeper, and firefighter in the US Forestry.


11) BANNISH, 1968 (Westfield, MA)
Capt. Leonard E. Bannish of West-field died when his F-84F Thunder-streak crashed during a training flight near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on May 30th, 1968. He crashed while attempting an emergency landing at the Wilkes-Barre PA airport.


12) SOUTHREY, 1986 (Granby, CT)
Maj. John Southrey of Granby, Connecticut died when his jet collided with another jet near Wells, New York on September 17th, 1986. The pilot of the other plane, Michael Kohut, of Chicopee, Mass., survived the crash after being transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital with a fracture of the lower back.

The two A-10s collided over wells, NY while en-route to the Ft Drum range in NY. Southrey joined the 104th in June of 1986 after serving nine years in the U.S. Air Force. A 1977 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. On one of his first assignments he served as a flight commander at the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada. At the 104th he served as the chief of the Standardization and Evaluation section.