During World War II it was necessary to train thousands of pilots for the Army Air Corp and the U.S. Navy to fly the thousands of aircraft coming off of assembly lines like the one at Willow Run near Detroit, MI. A lot of these pilots were trained in California near San Bernardino County - in fact there are some 140 recorded aircraft crashes during that time frame there.
A Tenacious ExplorerA retired school teacher by the name of G. Pat Macha has spent many years logging the locations of the crashes of these old military aircraft in the county and throughout the state. TO honor each of those dead airmen he leaves a flag as a reminder of the supreme sacrifice these air crew members made in service to our country. His quest began in 1963 when he was told of an aircraft wreck on the slope of Mount San Gorgonio by a park ranger and he was hooked!
An Interesting StoryIn a recent article in Daily Bulletin he recounts his passion this way:
I just wanted to know where these wrecks were, who the pilots were and what was their story,” said Macha. “Through my dad, I have a love of history and a love of aviation.The article in the Daily Bulletin went on to say:
In 2005, he and colleague Walt Witherspoon searched for the remains of a P-38 Aircobra that crashed Sept. 6, 1944 southwest of Victorville. They not only reached what little remained of the aircraft but found a wristwatch, I.D. bracelet and dogtags of its pilot, Pat Montgomery. They tracked down the pilot’s brother in Washington and returned the personal items to him 61 years after the crash. That same year, Macha assisted the son of pilot George Rosado who died with Sgt. Gordon Walker and WASP pilot Marie Mitchell Robinson in a B-25 crash west of Victorville on Oct. 2, 1944. He took the son to the site, where a memorial plaque was later installed in a Veterans Day ceremony with relatives of Rosado and Walker attending. “That is a very rewarding sidebar to what we are doing,” said Macha.