Sunday, September 15, 2013

Memorial service set for 4 servicemen who died on Bully Mountain

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will host a memorial service for four servicemen who lost their lives in a plane crash in Pickens County almost 63 years ago.

At 2 p.m. Monday at the Bully Branch helipad near Sunset, S.C., the DNR, local American Legion units, and Clemson ROTC members will honor four servicemen who died when their plane crashed into the side of Bully Mountain. Although the service does not coincide with the date of the crash, there has never been an event commemorating the men who lost their lives, said DNR spokesman Greg Lucas.

“It’s just something that should have been done long ago,” Lucas said.

Last week, the DNR installed a monument near the site of the crash commemorating Capt. John Miles Stuckrath, First Lt. Robert P. Schmitt and Staff Sgt. John Davis Bloomer, who were members of a Pittsburgh-area reserve unit, as well as Staff Sgt. Walter O. Lott, a member of a unit based in Montgomery, Ala.

On Nov. 11, 1950, the men from Pittsburgh were flying with Lott, of Pensacola, Fla., from Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Ala., to the Greenville Air Force Base. The Korean War had just begun, and the reserve unit had just been called to active duty.

It was night, and the C-82 twin-engine “Flying Boxcar” plane went off course. The plane dropped from 3,000 ft. to 2,000 ft., and hit the side of Bully Mountain, which reaches about 2,500 feet above mean sea level, Lucas said.

The service is scheduled at the Bully Branch helipad, followed by a trip up the mountain to the newly-installed monument. It is open to the public, but Lucas cautioned that a paved road ends below the helipad, and a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive vehicle will be necessary to complete the trip. Guests can also catch a shuttle from the entrance to Jocassee Gorges to the helipad, and they should arrive at the Shooting Tree Ridge entrances to the Gorges, 1344 Cleo Chapman Highway in Sunset, by 1 p.m. to catch the bus.

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