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Lt. Laverne Sorensen
Graduation Picture 1936

Lt Sorensen's flight had completed their bombing mission at 22,000 feet and while descending, two engines quit and the other two were running rough. The pilot attempted to make an emergency landing in a kafir (a type of milo) field about 30 miles west of the Salina facility but brought the plane in and completely stalled out at about 50 feet. The plane fell out of the sky, and, upon impact, moved only "two feet" forward and the front of the plane bust into flames. The rear of the plane did not burn. All ten crew members died upon impact. The recommendations of the review team was to place the fuel selection switch in a place in the plane where it could be checked without the use of a flashlight. No record has been found to indicate that this was ever done, even at the local level. Ten men died for that recommendation!

An early model B-24 at an airshow in 2008 which would have been very much like the plane used in training by Lt Sorensen and the rest of the crew on their fatal flight. These planes cruised at 150-160 mph with a glide speed of about 120 mph. They were about impossible to keep in the air below 95 mph.

Lt. Sorensen was assigned to Smokey Hill AAFB to work on new planes under development for the Air Force. No article gave the name of the plane but suspicion is that it was the new classified B-29.

He was a member of the 1936 graduating class at Milford Twp and was married to a fellow Milford Twp. graduate, Betty McCord, also from the class of 1936. She was the president of the class of `36 and he was the vice-president of that class. He graduated from Iowa State College in 1941 with a degree in engineering. Following graduation he was married in Nov. of 1941 and went into the service on 27 Dec 1941.

One unusual incident in connection with the family's return to Iowa was the meeting of Betty and her brother-in-law, Raymond Sorensen. Raymond, also in the Air Corps and in training at Lincoln Air Base at Lincoln, Neb, upon hearing of the crash a few hours after it was announced, started for Nevada at once. Arriving in Omaha, he was unable to make train connections and decided to start out to hitch-hike home. While at the approach of the bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs, he noticed a car with number 85 license plates (Story County) approaching. He waved the car down only to discover that in it were his bereaved sister-in- law and another military couple accompanying Betty to Iowa. Needless to say, he accompanied them on the somber trip home.

His wife, Betty Sorensen taught the first and second grades at Milford for the year of 1944-'45.

Lt. Sorensen was one of seven cousins in the Sorensen family in the service. Also, there was a brother-in-law in the service.

(Parts of this story adapted from an article in the Nevada Paper)

See a short article about the crash scene on page 267.

Gold Star Man
1944 George J. Peterson

George Peterson, 1940 graduate of Milford Twp is believed to have lived 2 miles east of Ames in Grant Twp but tuitioned into the Milford School. Private Peterson enlisted in the infantry in Sept of 1942. He was killed in action in France on 31 July 1944, almost eight weeks after the allied invasion of Europe. Adapted from the Ames Paper;

Sorrow struck the Ames community again Thursday when word was received by Mr and Mrs P.F. Peterson of rural Ames route 2, from the War Department that their only son, Pvt. George J. Peterson, was killed in action in France on 30 July 1944.

The Peterson farm adjoins that of Mr and Mrs Karl B. Clark, whose son, S/Sgt. George Clark, was reported shot down over France on July 25. The boys were close friends, and, together with Everett Joy, had enlisted on the same day, 8 Sept 1942.

Page 196 of 354

© 2012 Mark Christian
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