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As It Was: Forest Service Ranger Alerts Soldiers to 1945 Plane Crash

Forest Service personnel learned to spot enemy planes during World War II, but the ranger at the Cook and Green Camp didn’t need any training on July 29, 1945, to know the small civilian plane that flew over his cabin was in trouble.

The following day, a forest service aircraft from Cave Junction located the downed plane in the Red Buttes Wilderness on the Oregon-California border.  Forest Rangers Maurice Tedrow and Robert Webb guided about 25 soldiers from Camp White to the remote crash site, guided by a smoke bomb dropped by the spotter plane.

There were no survivors.  The soldiers carried the four bodies from the crash site up to the trail, where they left the bodies and hiked out in the dark. 

After the victims’ families decided what they wanted done with the bodies, a fire suppression crew and a packer walked in the next day and encountered a six-acre fire at the site.  While fighting the fire, the young men on the crew dug graves for the dead and buried them by the trail. 

A present-day brass plate marks the spot.

 

Source: Recollections: People and the Forest. Vol. 2, Medford Oregon, Rogue River National Forest, 1990, pp. 5-6, 3 vols.

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.