- Published on 12 June 2012
- Hits: 663
Ten relatives of 2nd Lt. William F. Washburn, a casualty of a 1944 midair collision near Milligan, traveled from the states of Connecticut, North Carolina and Arizona to Milligan on Sunday, May 13, and met with the members of the Milligan Memorial Committee.
Washburn was the pilot of the B-17 Bomber from the Sioux City Army Air Base in Iowa that crashed on Sept. 8, 1944, after a midair collision with a P-47 Fighter from the Bruning Army Air Base.
Washburn had one brother, John, who was also in the Army Air Corps. John had seven children and four of those children, spouses and families, Tom and Deirdre Washburn and son, Henry, John and Mikki Washburn and daughter, Sarah Washburn Carver, Ann Washburn Pellicci, and Beth (Washburn) Steve Dickens and son, John Allen spent the afternoon in the Milligan area.
At one farm crash site, Merle Buzek described what he saw after the B-17 crashed on his family farm. The Washburn family left a bouquet of flowers at the location of the crash in memory of the uncle they never had the opportunity to meet.
They toured the Fairmont Army Air Base where Dorothy Novak gave a narration about the construction and history of the base. Afterwards, they headed back to Milligan and stopped at the historical markers for photographs.
Refreshments were provided in Shirley Brunkow’s building and committee members talked about the memorial project and shared stories about other relatives who have visited to see the historical markers.
Flags provided by Stuart Carlton from Monticello, Ga., were presented to each relative. The relatives were also given, on behalf of Melvin Vavra, DVDs of dedication event highlights. Finally, on behalf of the Buzek family and the Milligan Memorial Committee, the family was given an original handwritten note sent to Mrs. Mildred
Buzek from Mrs. Myra Washburn, Lt. Washburn’s mother. The Washburn family gave a donation to help with the on going expenses of the committee, which include maintaining the wreaths, mailings to relatives, and hosting events for airmen’s relatives.
Bill Washburn visited Walt Divan one of the survivors of the air crash on his way back home to Connecticut.
“We are quite humbled by the experiences we shared with you on Sunday last. For all of these years, 2nd Lt. William F. Washburn was known to us only as Uncle Billy, a name which was infrequently mentioned with very little explanation other than that he was our father’s younger brother who died while training for the Army Air Corps in World War II. Because of your efforts to honor and remember the airmen who served our country and lost their lives in Milligan, we now feel that we have been connected to part of our family history and part of our national history that was previously unknown to us,” John and Mikki Washburn wrote.
See next week’s edition and cretenews.net for more on the original note from Washburn’s mother to Mildred Busek in 1944.