Sunday, November 30, 2008
At 1:35 a.m. on June 25, 1965, under fog and light drizzle, an Air Force C-135A transport jet, (see contemporary photo above), took off from MCAS El Toro. (The C-135 is the military equivalent of a Boeing 707.) The plane was en route from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey to Okinawa, with another scheduled stop at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. Aboard were 71 Marines on their way to Vietnam, along with 12 U.S. Air Force crew members.
At 1:46 a.m., about 4 miles from the control tower, the jet disappeared from radar. For reasons unknown, the pilot did not (or could not) make a planned left hand turn and flew directly into Loma Ridge. The plane was destroyed, killing all 83 people on board.
.Navy sailor Steve Bedunah was scheduled to take the flight as far as Hawaii. However, a family emergency waylayed him. He arrived at El Toro just in time to see the plane heading down the runway. Seconds later, he saw a huge orange fireball. "I was supposed to be on that plane," he said in a 2005 O.C. Weekly interview, "I've spent 40 years trying to live that down."
Here you see Greg from KOCE-TV filming Mike Bornia, Chris Epting, and Maria Hall-Brown at the crash site. It was fitting (although unplanned) that we visited this site on Veteran’s Day. A group called Project Remembrance is planning to put a stone memorial here in the near future.
The jet was about 1,150 feet up and traveling at 300 mph when it impacted the hill, scattering wreckage and bodies across at least a mile. The bodies and all the large plane parts were recovered after the crash, but small bits of the jet are still strewn everywhere. Although mangled in the crash, many metal parts are still in remarkably good condition after 43 years of exposure to the elements. Just last year, a readable set of dog tags were found in the brush.
It turned out that our traveling companion Jim had once been part of a search/clean-up crew after a different MCAS El Toro crash on the Irvine Ranch. He had some very sobering tales to tell that I won't relate here.
Update (11-3-2013): Chris Hoctor sent me the following message and list:
"For the benefit of your readers, this is the complete list of the crew and passengers based on everything I could find (all 84). Many little details added, a number of names, middle names, and places corrected here. Some missing rank, could not find that."
The twelve crew:
Pilot: Capt. William F. Cordell, JR., 27, GA
Copilot: First Lt. John A Zietke, JR., 27, MI
Copilot: First Lt. Gary M. Rigsbee, 23, CA
Navigator: Capt. Jacques G. Senecal, 32, CA
Navigator: First Lt. Robert H. K. Shannon, 29
Flight Engineer: S/Sgt James E. Burns, 29, IL
Load Master: S/Sgt Bobby L. Calhoun, 28
Flight Engineer: M/Sgt William H. Meredith, 34, KY
Flight Engineer: T/Sgt Marlin W. Tatom, 41, MI
Load Master: Airman 3/C Elwood C. Van Nole, Jr., 19
Flight traffic specialist: Airman 1/C Charles A. Reives, 23
Cadet Gary L. Zimmerman, 20, class of 1967, Air Force Academy
Passengers killed (alphabetical by last name):
Dwight L. Aldridge, 18, AR
PFC Russell J. Babcock, JR., 19, Tomkins Cove, NY
PFC Roger J. Beiter, 18, W. Seneca, N. Y.
Lance Cpl William B. Breen, 20, Bellefonte, Penn.
Cpl James Harold Brock, 25, Birmingham, Ohio.
Cpl Emerson K. Brown, 24, Kent, Wash.
Lance Cpl John G. Brusso, Jr., 22, Ontario, N. Y.
Cpl George C. Burrow, 20, Norman, Ark.
Cpl Tucker Ross Burt, 24, Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Phillip V. Caraccio, 24
Cpl Paul T. Chapin, 21, Coronado, Calif.
Cpl George E. College, 21, Davisburg, Mich.
Donald A. Davidson, 19, MI
Lance Cpl Douglas D. Everett, 19, Allentown, Pa.
PFC Rosco Ford, 24, Miami, Fla.
Capt Victor M. Girodengo, 28, San Diego, Calif.
Cpl Thomas Barton Gladstone, 25, Largo, Fla.
PFC Dickie L. Glover, 32, Muskegon, Mich.
PFC Gerald Griffith, 18, Jackson, Miss.
Henry D Grimm, 18
Lance Cpl Howard D. Hall, 18, Winfield, Kan.
Lance Cpl Gail K. Haning, 23, Albany, Ohio.
Cpl Charles Harmon, 21, Estill, S. C.
Lance Cpl Robert E. Harvey, 18, Upland, Calif.
PFC Harry R. Hawk, 20, Oberlin, Penn.
PFC Gerald G. Hawkins, 18, Mableton, Ga.
Kenneth J Haywood, 21
Thomas K Heacox, 18
Lance Cpl Danny E. Holder, 18, Nashville, Tenn.
Joseph M Kelly, 18
PFC James T. Kitchens, 19, Madleton, Ga.
Cpl William R. Kittel, 28, Suisun City, Calif.
Sgt James E. Lee, 28, Compton, Calif.
Richard W Leeman, 19
Robert C Lisicki, 23
Cpl Michael J. Mando, JR., 22, Tayler, Pa.
Lance Cpl Brian Elvin Martin, 20, Minersville, Pa.
Cpl James V. Matruski, 23, Johnson City, N. Y.
Henry B McKine, 18, CA
James D Meade, 21
PFC Joseph D Mogelinski, 18, Greenfield, Mass.
Capt Edward M. Morehead, 27, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sgt James C. Moultrie, 18, Moza City, Okinawa.
Cpl Anthony E. Nelson, 22, Wilmington, Calif.
PFC Franklin Newman, 20, Loomis, N. J.
Cpl Rich G. Pacheco, 20, Portland, Ore.
Lance Cpl Enrique Danny Padilla, 20, Santa Rosa, N. M.
Cpl Michael A. Palmieri, 28, Elmira, N. Y.
Lance Cpl Alfred Eugene Peterson, 20, Littleton Commons, Mass.
Cpl Edward P. Ray, 23, no hometown listed.
PFC Robert J. Rhodes, 19, Patterson, N. J.
PFC Ronald Richard Richert, 18, Pontiac, Mich.
Cpl Lawrence O. Rohde, 22, Las Vegas, NV
PFC Gerald W. Ross, 19
Pvt. Robert S. Shedis, 22, Calumet Park, Ill.
PFC Joseph B. Sheppard, 18, Philadelphia, Pa.
Sgt Jackson Sinyard, Jr
Pvt. Gerald Skidmore, 18, Cincinnati, Ohio.
PFC Arthur Slaughter, 23, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Quinton Smith, 22
Theodore Eugene Stark, 24, Louisville, KY
Lance Cpl Charles L. Stevens, 18, Cambridge, Ohio.
Jimmie I. Swink, 26
Lance Cpl James C. Tischer, 20, Hannibal, Mo.
Cpl Timothy M. Treweek, 24, Los Angeles
PFC Lawrence R. Vanness, 19, Rochester, N. Y.
Elwood C Vannote, 19
Cpl Harrison Wallace, 25, Clemens, Ala.
David E. Walsh, 18
Ralph E White, 23, IN
James R. Wilson, 24, IN
William J Wilson, 29, MO
(To be continued...)
Friday, November 28, 2008
- Searching for the Hanging Tree (June 2008)
- Hanging Tree history and old photos (June 2008)
- Mike Bornia at the Hanging Tree (Sept. 2008)
Today's first photo (above) shows me standing under the tree. Although fires have swept through the area in recent years, the tree is only a little scorched and seems pretty healthy. You might be able to see the tree from the right lane of the southbound 241 Toll Road, if you knew exactly where to look, and were on the passenger side of a high-profile vehicle. Our trip came about when author Chris Epting read my blog entries about the tree, and wanted to do a segment about it with Maria Hall-Brown for KOCE-TV. Mike Bornia of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy organized the trek and added some other sites of interest to the itinerary. When Epting asked if I wanted to come along, I immediately answered "Yes!," followed by, "and can I bring two other people?"
The other two were Orange County historians Jim Sleeper and Phil Brigandi who have both wanted to see this site again for many years. In the photo above, Jim stands under the tree and shows Phil and Mike Boeck photos of the area that he took in the 1960s.
Mike is a docent for the Conservancy and was one of our drivers for the day. He really knows the back country and was as enthusiastic as we were.
This last photo shows (left to right) Dave Raetz (also from the Conservancy), me, Jim and Phil, in front of the tree's historical marker. It reads, "Under this tree General Andres Pico hung two banditos of the Juan Flores gang in 1857." Below that, in smaller print, it reads, "Dedicated El Viaje de Portola Ride, April 1967." The annual El Viaje de Portola equestrian ride used to follow the trail of Gaspar de Portola's expedition through much of Orange County. Today, however, very little of that land is accessible to the public.
(To be continued...)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Phil Brigandi will hold a signing for his latest book, Images of America: Orange, on Dec. 12, 6-8pm at the Barnes & Noble, 791 S. Main St., in Orange. Phil writes, "This is my ninth book on the history of Orange, and features more that 200 pre-1950 images of the community and its residents."
Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro has a number of public holiday events on tap next month. First they'll host a Victorian Christmas , Dec. 6, 11am-3pm, which will include live entertainment, children’s crafts, living history demonstrations, historical exhibits, Santa Claus, and tours through decorated historic buildings. This will be followed by Candlelight Tours, on Dec. 13 & 14, 5:30-8:30pm. These evening events will include luminaria lit paths, historic buildings aglow with holiday lights and decorated with period décor. Also expect Victorian carolers, storytellers, and visits with Santa. Admission is $4.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Speaking of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Art Museum's new exhibit is devoted to the work of Laguna impressionist William Wendt. In Nature's Temple: The Life and Art of William Wendt will run from Nov. 9 to Feb. 8.
The Register's October article about famous dead people buried in O.C. continues to garner attention and has had additional names added to the list. Check it out online.
The Register has also started promoting Huntington Beach's Centennial, which arrives next year.
Tustin's new Citrus Ranch Park, at 2910 Portola Parkway, will include 900 to 1,100 lemon trees - a welcome reminder of the community's roots.
Friday, November 14, 2008
For purposes of clarity, I've added modern street names and place names to the digital image in red and I've colored the ocean blue and Mile Square Park green. Note how one of the Santa Ana River's old alternate courses - just below the bluffs of Huntington Beach - has water flowing in it. Also notice that only a few buildings are shown, and only in Talbert (at Talbert Ave. and Bushard St.) and near the corner of Bolsa Ave. and Brookhurst St.
The photo below is contemporary to the map, and shows the digging of one of the District's ditches, near the modern intersection of Altanta Ave. and Magnolia St. The ditch remains today - much improved - near the Ida Jean Haxton Post Office on Atlanta.
Many thanks to author Chris Epting for his very kind words about me on tonight's episode of Real Orange on KOCE-TV. I also appreciated the plug for the Orange County Archives (my day job). As if that weren't enough, Chris also posted about my blog on his own blog. Thanks, man!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Chris Epting has a new book out entitled, Vanishing Orange County. On the back cover, the publisher describes it as an "evocative compendium of photographs revisit[ing] many of the places locals held near and dear, including the Golden Bear nightclub, Japanese Village [&] Deer Park, Lion Country Safari, plus popular stores, restaurants, and, of course, the ever-shrinking farmlands." There's also a companion post card set available.
The Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society's (SAHPS) Holiday Open House will be held Saturday, Dec. 6th, noon to 4pm. Admission to (and tours of) the Howe-Waffle House Museum will be free. Also, Phil Brigandi, Roberta Reed and Guy Ball, will be signing their books. More details will be available in a few days on the SAHPS website, or can be obtained by calling (714) 547-9645.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
The building, (home to Merrilee's Swimwear for decades now,) is historically known as the Tripp's Market Building. It was built in 1912, and yes it would be very sad to see it go. So little of historic downtown H.B. remains that every new loss is a major loss. At the very least, the facade should be preserved.
Over the last century, this building has been home to a large number of businesses, including a number of cafes. It was also the first location of O'Barr's Drug Store in 1914. Architecturally, the Tripp's Market Building is a Western Falsefront with a Moderne stucco facade added in the early 1930s. A narrow stucco addition was added much later on the back of the lot.
For those of you keeping score at home, yes, this building is directly across the street from 123 Main St. - another historic building which was demolished last year. (Don't worry though,... The owners put a plaque on the new building describing why the old one they demolished was significant.)
Saturday, November 01, 2008
By 1970, developers were building tract housing on the Baroldi ranch, . The 1.5-acre lot on which the Baroldi home sat was to become a community park, and Leo Baroldi (Charles' son) offered the house to the City of Cypress as a new home for the local Cultural Arts Association. By accepting this deal, the City had to agree to preserve the folk art. Ultimately, the City declined the offer, saying the art was unsafe and difficult to maintain. As far as I can tell, all of it was ultimately destroyed.
I've posted several more images of these works below. They were taken in 1970, and you can see homes being built in the background. The last image shows a large concrete lizard in front of what appear to be giant termite mounds. (Thanks to Ron and Elfriede Mac Iver for the photos and for bringing this to my attention.)