Friday, December 1, 2017

Granville, Monongalia County, West Virginia: Recent plane crash brings up memories for local veteran

Wilbur England displays his shadow box. A shadow box is a collection of awards earned and memories, frequently given to outgoing service members by their unit.

GRANVILLE — A recent plane crash by a Navy C2-A Greyhound in the Philippine Sea reminded Wilbur England, a local veteran, of a close call he once had and brought up painful memories of friends he lost in a similar incident.

On Nov. 22, a C2-A carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean leaving three missing. The other eight were rescued.

Wilbur England, 70, of Granville, joined the Navy in 1967 following his graduation from University High School.

England said he was telling his story because this was a good opportunity to remind people that even while not at war, the men and women of the Armed Forces risk their lives for our freedom.

England enlisted as an aviation engine mechanic, but said that when he found out he could volunteer for the air crew, he did so.

On July 2, 1969, 22,000 feet in the air, England said the port, or left, propeller separated from the plane, cutting a hole in the plane, and part of the gearbox fell away as well.

The pilots descended to 12,000 feet as England and his fellow aircrew made sure the eight passengers on board had their air masks on.

“There was a hole [in the plane] about 8 inches wide and 8 feet long,” he said.

The pilot used the plane’s remaining engine to travel about 200 miles to Cubi Point, Philippines, and did a flyby of the tower to make sure the landing gear was still in good use.

He received a citation for his efforts, but England said he was just doing his job.

Everyone onboard survived.

Several months later, on Oct. 2, 1969, five of England’s friends were not so lucky.

England had left the squadron and was home on leave when he heard the news.

A C2-A Greyhound returning from the USS Constellation crashed with 21 crew and passengers onboard, killing all involved.

England knew all five pilots and crew, and even trained one of them.

“It affected me,” he said.

England said the pilot in the most recent crash “flew the hell out of that plane,” landing in the ocean to save eight people.

“We need to be thankful,” England said of our men and women in the armed forces.

Original article can be found here ➤

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