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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

Sept. 20, 2013

Four servicemen honored who lost their lives in 1950 Jocassee Gorges airplane crash

For the first time in 63 years, four servicemen who lost their lives in a plane crash in the mountains of northern Pickens County in 1950 were honored with a Remembrance Service near the crash site. Three family members of one of the crash victims attended the service, traveling from Pensacola, Fla.

More than 70 people made the trek to Bully Mountain in the Franklin Gravely Wildlife Management Area of Jocassee Gorges to attend the Remembrance Service on Sept. 16 and to see a granite monument placed in honor of the fallen soldiers.

The Air Force C-82 twin engine "Flying Boxcar" took off from an airfield in Alabama and was headed to Greenville Air Force Base when it crashed Nov. 11, 1950. Killed in the crash were Capt. John M. Stuckrath, 1st Lt. Robert P. Schmitt, Staff. Sgt. Edwin M. Bloomer and Staff Sgt. Walter O. Lott.

Two of Sgt. Lott's daughters, Anna Louise Agee and Gladys Odessa Wilson, made the trip to the Remembrance Service from Pensacola, Fla., along with Mrs. Wilson's son, Alton Riley.

Mrs. Agee was 19 years old when her father was killed. She's now 83.

"It's something we've wanted to do for a long time," she said, "but we didn't know how to go about it. It's closure for Dad, because we've never had it."

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Alvin A. Taylor, who spoke at the Remembrance Service, said the honor afforded these four fallen airmen was long overdue.

"Because of the remote location of this crash, this event has been largely forgotten, and for 63 years there was no memorial to these brave men," Taylor said. "Now, a monument sits atop a hill, above the crash site, so that all those who come after us will know about these servicemen. The presence of everyone at the Remembrance Service is testament to the respect that we have for these four airmen. They made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, paying the ultimate price. For that, we will be eternally grateful."

Forrest Sessions, DNR's project leader for the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau, sang a beautiful rendition of "Taps" near the conclusion of the Remembrance Service. Dennis Chastain of Pickens County, who was lauded during the service for his tenacity in memorializing the fallen soldiers, led a field trip to the actual crash site after the ceremony.

Members of American Legion Post 11 of Pickens and Post 52 of Easley participated in the Remembrance Service, along with cadets from Clemson University's Air Force ROTC program. A number of local dignitaries attended the service, including State House members Sen. Larry Martin and Rep. Davey Hiott, both of Pickens, and Pat Welborn, Pickens County Clerk of Court.

DNR officials thanked a number of organizations and individuals for their contributions to the Remembrance Service, including Duke Energy, S.C. Forestry Commission, Keowee Vineyards Fire Department, Pickens County American Legion Posts 11 and 52, Clemson University Air Force ROTC, Richard Holcombe of Robinson Funeral Home, and Alexander Granite Co. of Easley.

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