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Part II of the B-58 story by Chris Bennett

Today, December 12, 2011, is 45th Anniversary of the crash of the B-58 Hustler, just across the Casey County line at McKinney, Lincoln Co., KY

Part II of Two Part story on the 1966 crash of the B-58Hustler near McKinney, KY
See Part I at The McKinney, KY B-58 Plane Crash, Dec.12, 1966


By Chris Bennett

Written August 13, 2011

We drove out to the crash site to visit the place where the Blakeslee family's world changed. Alan had brought his digital voice recorder to capture the true emotional accounts. He interviewed the Blakeslee family, and then Darrell at the site of the crash. Ironically two low flying planes flew over as he conducted the interviews, and their sound was caught on his recording.



The weather was nice that day; the sky was very blue with big white puffy clouds. It is a very peaceful place, and as the rest of our state, the scenery in the knobs region is very beautiful.

The Blakeslee's told us how, when their mother died a year earlier, they had brought her ashes to the crash site. This way she could rejoin her husband 44 years later. You see, Major Blakeslee was the pilot and because he was unable to eject, he rode the plane down into the ground, on that Lincoln county hill. His remains were never recovered, and that hill is now the resting place for him and his wife. Major Floyd E. Acker rests there with them, as he was also unable to eject. This place of indescribable sorrow has now become a place of peace.

(This Photo was taken that day from atop the hill the plane crashed into)As you might expect spending time with these folks in a place that had changed their lives so drastically, was quite somber. I think Alan and I both felt the need to try and help them. We decided right there, to work with the citizens and community of McKinney, to preserve their story of the loss of the nation's most advanced bomber, along with the loss of three national heroes. Folks like Darrell Hovious, who was only a young teenager, stumbled into a field on that dark December night to discover an absolute realism of life, death. It has been nearly 45 years since the crash and it soon will be forgotten without help from concerned citizens to erect a historical marker.

So our project began, I had not mentioned building a website when we met that day, because I was in the middle of summer classes and actually had so many irons in the fire, the fire was complaining! I got home and put a little website template together and emailed it out for opinions. A few days later I bought the web address www.b58memorial.com. Over the Fourth of July holiday I built the website, and the Blakeslee family sent me photos, and information. Rob transcribed newspaper articles about the crash, so they would be easier to read than photos of the original articles printed from microfilm.

(Major Blakeslee far left, and his Air Crew taken in 1965)

While I was working on the website, Alan had been doing more audio interviews with people that had lived next to the field where the B-58 "Hustler" crashed. Rob had spoken of a pastor of a local United Methodist Church that had sent the family letters after the crash and took the family to the crash site when they visited the area the following spring.

Alan contacted Pastor Don Scilley who is now retired, and resides in Lexington. The two arranged to meet at the church in Hustonville for an interview. You can find all the audio interviews on our website. Pastor Scilley's interview is the crowning jewel of the segment. Alan also laid the groundwork for the church to handle the donations to the marker fund. This saved our little organization a huge amount of red tape, and also helped dispel any feelings of illegitimacy from potential donors.

(The Blakeslee family at the crash site in June of 2011)

Alan asked me go with him when he produced the audio, at the WHVE studios. Alan is an audio wiz and he put the pieces together very quickly. I feel that the audio interviews tell a very compelling story, not only of the crash, but of the aftermath as well. Since I sat in the corner and didn't do anything while Alan was producing the audio, I told him that I would claim Executive Producer rights! (Just like Spielberg)

The website has come together quite nicely, it seems to grow a little each day. We are yet to receive any information from the families of the other two Air Force officers, but we have high hopes to. We haven't made the website public until now. I thought I would give the Columbia Magazine readers first opportunity to see our work. To date we have raised over $1,700.00 of the $2,300.00 needed to pay for the marker. This has all been accomplished by word of mouth, with no publicity at all.

This article isn't about what Alan Reed, or Chris Bennett did. It's not even about the marker or the donations, or about the pastor who did a good deed 45 years ago. This article is 100% about the sacrifice those Air Force officers made in that field all those years ago. Right now there are people putting their lives on the line so that we can live here in America, so we can seek life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To quote eyewitness Darrell Hovious, "I can go to the mall, and live as Americans do because of their sacrifice."

It is also about the sacrifice of Angels, I am speaking about the sacrifice of the children and spouses of our service men and women. Alison Blakeslee sent me two family photos. The first one is a photo of the family at Thanksgiving, just days before the December 12th crash at McKinney. Alison is the little blonde girl sitting in her fathers lap in the center of the photo. She was only eight years old when she sacrificed her father to the defense of our Nation.

The second photo is at an Air Force ceremony where her father was posthumously being awarded a commendation. Again Alison is the little blonde girl in the white gloves to the right of the photograph. Alison gave up more than her share, all the Blakeslee family did, and all military families do!

I invite you to visit our website to learn more about the crash, be sure and listen to the moving audio accounts. You can also download the entire piece as a podcast from the iTunes store. I would like to thank you for reading my story, and encourage you to pray for our men and women in the Armed Services and our leaders, the ones that put them in harms way, sometimes for questionable motives.

LINKS:
B-58memorial.com
You can read more about the plane at
B-58 Hustler entry at Wikipedia

Fact Sheet on B-58
Questions or comments can be directed to: b58memorial@gmail.com


This story was posted on 2011-12-12 03:18:27
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