On August 21, 1944 a formation of B-24 Liberator heavy bombers based at Pueblo passed over Trinidad practicing formation flying. South of town the formation turned and headed back in a northerly direction. In the vicinity of the town of Model, two bombers collided in mid-air. One bomber broke into several large segments and fell on both sides of Highway 350 just north of Model at mile marker 15. The crew of nine men died in the collision or upon impact with the ground. The second bomber plunged into the ground about 3/4 mile to the northeast, killing nine men. One man from this aircraft managed to parachute to safety, the sole survivor who is no longer living now.
The deaths of 18 men in this accident made this the greatest loss of life suffered in any single aviation accident in the State of Colorado during the years of World War II. Little remains visible today to remind anyone of the terrible loss of life suffered that date in 1944. At right is the crash site.
A bronze memorial plaque has been placed to remind all of the cost of defending our county, a price being exacted even today. Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch along with the Trinidad Historical Society teamed up with Larry E. Carpenter of Estes Park Colorado to place the plaque just north of Model Colorado at mile marker 15, Highway 350.
The wayside exhibit has a parking area and Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway interpretive signage. We are pleased to add this educational and historically important bronze marker to our most valued prairies and plains. Many are in awe of our Trail's historic treasures and untold stories. Projects such as this will open many new opportunities for Santa Fe Trail travelers to learn to appreciate our area history and the brave soldiers who have died so tragically for our country.
Efforts were completed to locate surviving family members of all the crewmen. Over fifty family members and friends attended the dedication ceremony. For information please contact Larry Carpenter - pictured at left- at 1141 Holiday Lane, Estes Park, CO 80517-7412, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org . A pot luck dinner was held for family and friends the evening before the dedication at the A.R. Mitchell art museum in Trinidad. An incredible flyover was presented at 10:09, the exact time of the crash on that day 60 years ago. PRESIDENTIAL MEMORIAL CERTIFICATES signed by President Bush were presented to each of the families. The High Frontier Honor Guard from Peterson Air Force Base did the color guard duties and fired the 21 gun salute.
Funding and support for this project paid in part by:
MODEL, CO B-24 MEMORIAL FUND, Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway,
Trinidad Historical Society, Larry & Vi Carpenter, Estes Park, CO, Gary
& Judy Wallace, Estes Park, CO, Richard & Carolyn Dietz, Estes Park,
CO, Mrs. Schrader Rice, Trinidad, CO, Steve Weiner, in memory of his Father,
Max Weiner (1916-1998), Jeanne Thobro, in memory of her Uncle Lt. Horace
M. Jenkins, Dr. Herbert J. Rogove, in memory of his uncle, Cpl. Herbert
The Board of Directors of the Trinidad Historical Society and of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway - Mountain Branch would like to give grateful thanks to all who so willingly helped with the dedication of a memorial on Saturday, August 21, 2004 for the airmen killed on that date in 1944 in a mid-air collision of two B-24 training bombers. Special thanks to Larry Carpenter, Roberta Cordova and Wyvonne Phillips for their orchestration of the event. Our thanks to Bill Cordova and the County Commissioners for their help with construction of the memorial's base, and to Commissioners Robert Valdez and Ken Torres for their presence at the ceremony, to Jim Soltis and the City of Trinidad for the last-minute loan of 50 chairs, and to Parks Department employee Tom Trujillo who trucked them to the site.
To Mayor Joe Reorda for his words of welcome to the airmen's families and to City Council members Jenny Garduno, Nancy Ellis, Herm Heisey and Nick de Bono (and the veterans he brought with him), all of whom attended the ceremony. To Pat Patrick for the use of the Mitchell Museum and for all of his personal help, to the Rev. Dick Spinner (Air Force, Retired) for his inspiring invocation and benediction. To Trinidad Greenhouse for the beautiful wreath.
To the Chronicle-News and to the Trinidad Times Independent for their newspaper copies provided free to the families. To Robin Barker for "Amazing Grace" on his bagpipes and to Rob Wright, Band Director at Trinidad High School for his breath-taking rendition of "Taps."
To the Colorado State Patrol, the Fisher's Peak Fire Department and the Trinidad Ambulance Service for being there and for their help with traffic control. To Virgil Micek of Virgil's Music for the loan of a portable sound system and to Kent McKinney of TSJC's Audio/Visual Department for recording our event.
We are especially grateful to all the families from Beshoar, Hoehne, Earl and Model who came from far and wide to be a part of this ceremony. Members of the Benavidez, Duran, Schleich, Baca, Salazar, Gyurman and Olguin families turned out to help - just as they had done on the day the planes crashed.
Another B-24 crashed on Mesa de Maya June 29, 1944 killing ten men. The aircraft was off course when it flew into Seven L. Buttes on a nighttime training flight. A BT-13 crash killed one man in June 1942 when it flew into the mesa. Still another B-24 crash claimed eight lives when it hit a mountain near Monument Lake in 1943. Las Animas County had a number of fatalities due to air crashes during WWII.
The author of this prayer was a sister of 2nd Lt. John Franklin (Frank) Kime, Liberty, NC. He was killed in the crash of a B-24 Liberator bomber in a field in eastern Colorado, July 28, 1943.