Ceremony to honor airmen lost in 1956 crash
Grub Gulch Chapter #41-49 of E. Clampus Vitus plans to erect a granite memorial at Courthouse Park Saturday to mark the 60-year anniversary of the crash of a B-52 bomber that exploded five miles south of Madera June 28, 1956. The crash claimed the lives of five U.S. airmen.
Two hours after the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress left Castle Air Base in Atwater it exploded. The remains of the plane crashed near state Route 99 and Avenue 10 1/2.
According to an article in The Madera Tribune, the cause of the incident has not officially been determined.
The Tribune reported that the Aviation Safety Network noted that the crash followed an in-flight fire. The crash took the lives of five of the seven crew members on board. Tech. Sgt. Raymond Riggs, tail gunner, and Master Sgt. John Brown, engineer, survived the crash but died when their parachutes failed to open. Capt. Leroy Campbell, navigator; Capt. G. Dick Richardson, radar operator; and Tech. Sgt. Harvey Fullbright, engineer, died on impact.
Major Benjamin Ostlund, ship commander and pilot, and Capt. William Vetter, pilot, survived.
The ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday in Courthouse Park. Following the ceremony, there will be a luncheon at American Legion Post 11, 17408 Road 26.