My Vacation II – Cold War Era Tragedy

August 30, 2010 - 2 Comments

by Jim Barnes

One of the more unusual side trips I made while visiting my son in Maine, was a trip to Moosehead Lake in the west central part of the state. Now the lake itself is a popular tourist attraction and justly so. It is a very large and quite scenic natural lake which offer a variety of outdoor activities as well as cruises. Overlooking the lake is  2,636 Elephant Mountain and that is where I found one of the more striking historical sites of my vacation. The wreckage of a B-52 Stratofortress still lies halfway up the mountain, where it crashed in 1963. The following is a discription of the events that led to the crash, taken from The Moosehead Lake Region Resource Guide:

On January 24th, 1963 a B-52 Stratofortress-C departed Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, its mission routine: low level maneuvers to avoid current Soviet radar technology. Some miles east of Greenville, the $8 million dollar unarmed bomber encountered turbulence. Attempting to avoid it, a great wrenching sound was heard. The pilot, who lost and could not regain control of the bomber, ordered ejection. Of a crew of nine, there was only enough time for the pilot, Lt. Col. Dante E. Bulli, the navigator, Capt. Gerald J. Adler and the copilot, Maj. Robert J. Morrison to do so before the plane crashed into the side of Elephant Mountain, killing all six remaining onboard – Lt. Col. Joe R. Simpson, Jr, Maj. William W. Gabriel, Maj. Robert J, Hill, Capt. Herbert L. Hansen, Capt, Charles G. Leuchter, and T-Sgt. Michael F. O’Keffe. Morrison died as he struck a tree while parachuting.

The site is maintained as a memorial to the crew by the Maine Air National Guard, which has provided interpretive signage. There is a large stone slab which lists the crew. The site is located immediately off one of the unpaved roads which crisscross the mountain offering access to the many fishermen who frequent the many ponds and lake located there. It is reasonably easy to find and no trouble to access once you get there. Please remember that this is a memorial and as such is a No-Removal site. So please leave it as you found it.

If you are in this area, I recommend that you try to visit this site. Aside from the impressive natural surroundings, it is a unique opportunity to pay your respects to some brave men who died in service to their country in a little-known footnote to the Cold War.

For more information about the the 1963 B-52 Bomber crash click here.

Comments (2)

SMSGT Charles Sullivan

October 15th, 2012 at 10:38 am    


I remember Capt Adler being brought to DOW AFB hospital after the crash. After being in his seat all night in a snow bank I always wonder how he made out after his transfer from our hospital. Saw that he was able to practice law in California is great.

SMSGT Charles Sullivan

October 15th, 2012 at 10:38 am    


I remember Capt Adler being brought to DOW AFB hospital after the crash. After being in his seat all night in a snow bank I always wonder how he made out after his transfer from our hospital. Saw that he was able to practice law in California is great.

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