‘We do not forget the 17 brave souls’ as ceremony, marker commemorate ‘64 air disaster


Ceremony, marker commemorate ‘64 air disaster

By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



A large crowd gathered at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday for the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker commemorating the military air crash in 1964.

A large crowd gathered at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday for the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker commemorating the military air crash in 1964.


John Hamilton | News Journal

From left, Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold of the U.S. Army (ret.), and Maj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina at the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.


John Hamilton | News Journal

The back of the new Ohio Historical Marker at Denver Williams Park commemorating the military air crash of 1964 that took the lives of 17 U.S. servicemen.


John Hamilton | News Journal

Retired Army MSgt. Jack Heist, left, plays “Taps” for the 17 servicemen who died in the 1964 military air crash.


John Hamilton | News Journal

James Ashley Hopkins, grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins, and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society unveil the Ohio Historical Marker dedicated to the military air crash victims at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.


John Hamilton | News Journal

Edward Meyers, U.S. Navy veteran and Lieutenant with the Wilmington Fire Department, plays “Amazing” Grace on the bagpipes during the Ohio Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.


John Hamilton | News Journal

Maj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina, right, attend the Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. Maj. Quinn was a safety officer who was a part of the recovery operations the night of the crash.


John Hamilton | News Journal

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold speaks during the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.


John Hamilton | News Journal

James Ashley Hopkins, right, looks up at the newly unveiled Ohio Historical Marker after he and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society removed the tarp. Hopkins is the grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins.


John Hamilton | News Journal

WILMINGTON — “It was very moving. I don’t know what else to say.”

Those were the words of James Ashley Hopkins, who helped unveil the Ohio Historical Marker at Saturday’s dedication and commemoration of the 1964 miliary air disaster held at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park.

Hopkins’ grandfather, Air Force pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins’ was one of the 17 servicemen killed when two C-119 “Flying Boxcars” collided in mid-air about five miles northeast of the Clinton County Air Force Base on April 18, 1964.

Major Hopkins’ grandson revealed the marker along with Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society.

President of the Special Forces Chapter 45 and retired Army Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold spoke, remembering the 17 men who lost their lives.

“Today is a day that we demonstrate that we do not forget. We do not forget the 17 brave souls that were taken from this Earth during a joint Army/Air Force training exercise in 1964,” said Arnold.

Arnold went on to say the story was deeper than just the accident; he said that it was about the community and about values.

“The men killed were not from all over the United States. They all resided right here in Ohio or in cities nearby in adjoining states. These men were citizen airmen and citizen soldiers,” he said.

He noted how, before the accident, these men were probably at their civilian jobs and then later they said goodnight to their families, put on their uniforms and drove to their respective posts.

“All of them were expected home by late Sunday evening to see their families after the end of a long training weekend. Just like they had done for many months or, for some of them, many years,” said Arnold. “They were expected to be at their civilian jobs the next morning.

“The last part never happened.”

He highlighted the connections the 17 had in their communities and the connections they helped form between the American military and the average American. He then highlighted the values they held that motivated them including duty, honor, respect, selfless service, integrity, and personal courage.

After the reveal of the marker, Buckeye Wing Association Member and retired U.S. Air Force SMSgt./Chief Flight Engineer Charles Mercer led the bell ceremony where each of the 17 names was read. Each name would be followed by a bell chime and the placing of a red rose by the marker.

Carol Heismann Minchin, the daughter of pilot Maj. Stanley H. Heismann, was moved by all the effort that made the marker happen.

“It has been a longtime dream,” she said. “The lengths that these groups went through to make it happen and to just keep on remembering this tragic event, it’s wonderful.”

A large crowd gathered at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday for the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker commemorating the military air crash in 1964.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0204.jpgA large crowd gathered at J.W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday for the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker commemorating the military air crash in 1964. John Hamilton | News Journal

From left, Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold of the U.S. Army (ret.), and Maj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina at the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0168.jpgFrom left, Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold of the U.S. Army (ret.), and Maj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina at the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. John Hamilton | News Journal

The back of the new Ohio Historical Marker at Denver Williams Park commemorating the military air crash of 1964 that took the lives of 17 U.S. servicemen.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0274.jpgThe back of the new Ohio Historical Marker at Denver Williams Park commemorating the military air crash of 1964 that took the lives of 17 U.S. servicemen. John Hamilton | News Journal

Retired Army MSgt. Jack Heist, left, plays “Taps” for the 17 servicemen who died in the 1964 military air crash.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0269.jpgRetired Army MSgt. Jack Heist, left, plays “Taps” for the 17 servicemen who died in the 1964 military air crash. John Hamilton | News Journal

James Ashley Hopkins, grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins, and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society unveil the Ohio Historical Marker dedicated to the military air crash victims at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0234.jpgJames Ashley Hopkins, grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins, and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society unveil the Ohio Historical Marker dedicated to the military air crash victims at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. John Hamilton | News Journal

Edward Meyers, U.S. Navy veteran and Lieutenant with the Wilmington Fire Department, plays “Amazing” Grace on the bagpipes during the Ohio Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0253.jpgEdward Meyers, U.S. Navy veteran and Lieutenant with the Wilmington Fire Department, plays “Amazing” Grace on the bagpipes during the Ohio Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. John Hamilton | News Journal

Maj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina, right, attend the Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. Maj. Quinn was a safety officer who was a part of the recovery operations the night of the crash.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0194.jpgMaj. Mike Quinn and his wife Regina, right, attend the Historical Marker Dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. Maj. Quinn was a safety officer who was a part of the recovery operations the night of the crash. John Hamilton | News Journal

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0207.jpgJohn Hamilton | News Journal

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold speaks during the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0213.jpgRetired Army Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold speaks during the marker dedication at Denver Williams Park on Saturday. John Hamilton | News Journal

James Ashley Hopkins, right, looks up at the newly unveiled Ohio Historical Marker after he and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society removed the tarp. Hopkins is the grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/04/web1_DSC_0236.jpgJames Ashley Hopkins, right, looks up at the newly unveiled Ohio Historical Marker after he and Kay Fisher of the Clinton County Historical Society removed the tarp. Hopkins is the grandson of pilot Maj. James A. Hopkins. John Hamilton | News Journal
Ceremony, marker commemorate ‘64 air disaster

By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574