Widow: ‘The waiting was the worst’


Two Clinton Countians died in 1964 air disaster

News Journal archives



The Clinton County Air Force Base (CCAFB) served the nation for 30 years and later became the Wilmington Air Park.

The Clinton County Air Force Base (CCAFB) served the nation for 30 years and later became the Wilmington Air Park.


File photo

The Ohio historical marker dedication and commemoration is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park, Wilmington.

(Editor’s Note: This is the last of a three-part series of stories leading up to Saturday’s Ohio historical marker dedication and commemoration of the 1964 air collision over Clinton County. This one, which appeared in the News Journal just days after the disaster, details the two Clinton County servicemen who lost their lives — Capt. Ernest Byron “By” Milligan from Wilmington, and S. Sgt. Richard F. Davis from New Vienna.)

Carol Milligan spoke quietly. “He said he’d be home about 10 … He was a little concerned about the weather but I think all men who fly think about the weather.”

Ricky, 3½, and Chris, 6, were playing with the young boxer in the home at 506 Florence Ave. “They don’t understand about their daddy,” Carol said, “but Janice is taking it pretty hard.” Janice is 7.

Carol’s husband, Capt. Ernest Byron Milligan, 32, was one of 17 men who died Saturday night in the crash of two C-119 troop carriers. He was the co-pilot on the aircraft that was destroyed by flames.

“I heard about the crash. I knew that only two planes had gone down. I wouldn’t let myself think that By’s plane was one of them.

“The waiting was the worst. But I knew that they were handling it in the only way they could …

“By was a family man … He was serious about his work and his flying … He was a good husband.”

She spoke to Ricky who was playing the boxer. There were tears in her eyes. “We’ve turned off the radio and the television on account of the children,” she said.

Captain Milligan, like the others, was a reservist. He was well known in the community. He was president-elect of the Denver Place PTO and until recently was active in local bowling circles.

Local businessmen knew him as the procurement officer who handled bids during the expansion at Clinton County Air Force Base. The Milligans came here 7½ years ago.

“Friday night he commented about the weather. He said he wished it was either real good or real bad, that he didn’t like the in-between weather,” Carol said.

Captain Milligan’s civilian job was in Dayton where he was a contractor with Defense Electronics Supply Center.

He was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Feb. 12, 1932. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in science.

Surviving, in addition to the widow and the children are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest S. Milligan, Laurel, Maryland, and a brother, Robert, also of Laurel. The widow’s parents are Dr. and Mrs. Arthmore Solnitzky, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

He was commissioned on May 29, 1955, a day after his marriage.

The body will not be shown. It is to be taken today or Tuesday to Maryland. A memorial service will be held here on a date to be announced. The widow requests that floral donations be withheld until she returns for the memorial service.

Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

S. Sgt. Richard F. Davis, 31, one of the victims in the C-119 aircraft crash Saturday night, had lived with his family at New Vienna for the past five years.

He was born in West Portsmouth on Nov. 20, 1932 and attended primary and high school at Otway, Ohio. He spent four years on active duty with the Air Force, and for nine years had been a reservist. He was a flight engineer on one of the aircraft that crashed.

He leaves his wife, Joan; and two children, Candace Annette, 8, and Richard Franklin, 6. Other survivors include his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis, Otway; two sisters, Mrs. William Wisecup, Greenfield, and Mrs. Walter Riddelharge, Wheelersburg, Ohio; and two brothers, Ronald and Kenneth Davis, both of Otway. His widow’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Chaffin, Otway.

The American Legion, of which Sergeant Davis was an active member, will hold ritual services at the Smith Funeral Home, New Vienna, at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The body will be taken to the Lynn Funeral Home, Portsmouth, on Wednesday. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Otway Christian Union Church, Otway. The burial will be in the Berea Chapel Cemetery, Otway.

The Clinton County Air Force Base (CCAFB) served the nation for 30 years and later became the Wilmington Air Park.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_CC-AFB-aerial.jpgThe Clinton County Air Force Base (CCAFB) served the nation for 30 years and later became the Wilmington Air Park. File photo
Two Clinton Countians died in 1964 air disaster

News Journal archives

The Ohio historical marker dedication and commemoration is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park, Wilmington.

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