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Plane Crash in Meyerland


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Does anyone remember this plane crash?

http://es.houstonisd.org/herodes/About_Herod/Our_Hero.htm

We were living in Marilyn Estates and I had just gone to bed when I heard the plane go over the house and then heard it crash. The explosion lit up my window. I actually thought the Russians had dropped the bomb - this was the time of the cold war.

My dad (who was a professional photographer at the time) grabbed his camera and ran out of the house. He was joined by our neighbor who was a mortician. They got wet running across Braes Bayou and were the first ones at the site.

My dad told me that he saw the helmet on the ground and then realized that it wasn't empty. That's all he would say and I never saw any of the pictures.

A short time later a tree was planted near Meyerland Plaza with a plaque dedicated to Captain Herod.

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Does anyone remember this plane crash?

I'd never heard about that one, or knew that school was named after the pilot..

What was the exact location of that crash?

I remember a bad crash in 1965 when I lived in Wichita KS. I was in 2nd-3rd grade.

A KC-135 "boeing 707" tanker was fully fueled and just took off from McConnell AFB.

They had engine trouble, "they say a parachute might have got sucked into an engine,

maybe before takeoff."

It went down right into a neighborhood of houses, a scenario much like Herod was

trying to avoid.

With that big jet, they didn't have any control, stalled, and plowed right in.

It was on a Saturday morning, and we were out riding our bikes around.

We were a few miles away, but we could still see the loads of black smoke.

It burned all day long, as I remember my dad took the family over to that street

that night after it was dark, and there was still a lot on fire.

Pretty much the whole street and all the houses were toast. About 20 on the

ground were killed, and 7 crew in the plane.

Biggest plane crash I ever saw, fer sure..

http://www.wichitagov.org/CityOffices/Fire...ory/11/1965.htm

for a few little pix... BTW, they also used KC-135's as AWAC planes too..

NTSB info...

NTSB Identification: Unknown

14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation

Event occurred Saturday, January 16, 1965 in WICHITA, KS

Aircraft: BOEING KC-135, registration: USAF501

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FILE DATE LOCATION AIRCRAFT DATA INJURIES FLIGHT PILOT DATA

F S M/N PURPOSE

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

M-0001 65/1/16 WICHITA KANS BOEING KC-135 CR- 7 0 0 *ERROR-INVALID CODE* AGE 35, UNK/NR INSTRUMENT

TIME - 0930 USAF501 PX- 0 0 0 RATED.

DAMAGE-DESTROYED OT- 0 0 0

TYPE OF ACCIDENT PHASE OF OPERATION

COLLISION WITH GROUND/WATER: UNCONTROLLED IN FLIGHT: UNCONTROLLED DESCENT

UNDER INVESTIGATION

EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES - FORCED LANDING OFF AIRPORT ON LAND

FIRE AFTER IMPACT

I did a NTSB search on the Houston crash, but no records before 1962... :(

MK

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So what happened to the pictures? Your dad still around?

I was wrong. I just asked my dad and he said that he didn't take pictures. I guess that's why I never saw them.

He said that the plane crashed just on the other side of Braes Bayou. He and the neighbor were approaching from the south and as they reached the bayou to cross over, the plane exploded. It's a good thing they hadn't crossed it yet. It would have been somewhere between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft.

I found info about Gary Herod on wikipedia, but it says that the plane crashed in the area that now contains Meyerland Plaza. Of course that is wrong. Meyerland was built in 1957 and the crash was nowhere near there.

Edited by Alpha
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I was wrong. I just asked my dad and he said that he didn't take pictures. I guess that's why I never saw them.

He said that the plane crashed just on the other side of Braes Bayou. He and the neighbor were approaching from the south and as they reached the bayou to cross over, the plane exploded. It's a good thing they hadn't crossed it yet. It would have been somewhere between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft.

I found info about Gary Herod on wikipedia, but it says that the plane crashed in the area that now contains Meyerland Plaza. Of course that is wrong. Meyerland was built in 1957 and the crash was nowhere near there.

You can correct it on Wikipedia, right?

Did the plane crash into a field?

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I was wrong. I just asked my dad and he said that he didn't take pictures. I guess that's why I never saw them.

He said that the plane crashed just on the other side of Braes Bayou. He and the neighbor were approaching from the south and as they reached the bayou to cross over, the plane exploded. It's a good thing they hadn't crossed it yet. It would have been somewhere between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft.

Here is a 1960 aerial photo posted on another thread by nm5k, quite awhile ago, that shows parts of Meyerland, Westbury, and Marilyn Estates. http://rootmedia.net/images/westbury60.jpg You're looking south in this picture. In the bottom right corner is the future crossing of Chimney Rock over Brays Bayou, where only a drainage ditch was at that time. Hillcroft is off the photo here, but, from your description of the location, the crash must have been just to the right, off the picture, in that area. Marilyn Estates is just across the bayou to the south from here. I have a good friend who lives on Valkeith in Marilyn Estates. His house had not been built when this picture was taken.

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My memory of this story

I was a senior at Pasadena High School when this crash happened and it was a very big story for several weeks. I remember reading that the pilot stayed with the plane to keep it from going down in a school yard where children were playing. It went over the school and crashed in an open field not very far away. The pilot was killed because the plane was too low for him to eject safely. HISD renamed that school for Capt Herod, and the school children planted the memorial tree in Herod's memory at Meyerland Plaza, which is a considerable distance from the school.

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I was a senior at Pasadena High School when this crash happened and it was a very big story for several weeks. I remember reading that the pilot stayed with the plane to keep it from going down in a school yard where children were playing. It went over the school and crashed in an open field not very far away. The pilot was killed because the plane was too low for him to eject safely. HISD renamed that school for Capt Herod, and the school children planted the memorial tree in Herod's memory at Meyerland Plaza, which is a considerable distance from the school.

I'm not sure that there were any children playing. It happened around 10:30 at night. If he came from Ellington Field, he would have been flying north and might have passed over Parker or Kolter school. Herod Elementary didn't open until 1965.

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I'm not sure that there were any children playing. It happened around 10:30 at night. If he came from Ellington Field, he would have been flying north and might have passed over Parker or Kolter school. Herod Elementary didn't open until 1965.

Yes the school opened in 1965, and yes it happened at night. Obviously my memory isnt perfect, but I do remember the part about the plane staying in the air past a school yard because that's all anybody could talk about for several weeks. The crash and the school yard were equal parts of the story, and people marveled at how heroic Herod was by keeping his plane from crashing in the school yard.

Or, maybe I just think that's what I remember, and I'm just getting senile here in my middle age.

Edited by FilioScotia
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Yes the school opened in 1965, and yes it happened at night. Obviously my memory isnt perfect, but I do remember the part about the plane staying in the air past a school yard because that's all anybody could talk about for several weeks. The crash and the school yard were equal parts of the story, and people marveled at how heroic Herod was by keeping his plane from crashing in the school yard.

Or, maybe I just think that's what I remember, and I'm just getting senile here in my middle age.

I understand where you're coming from. I'm slightly younger - I was in 7th grade at the time. What amazed me is that when I asked my 82 year old father about it today, he remembered it vividly. He even remembered the pilot's name.

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Now I really am depressed. I found a couple of newspaper articles about this story and my memories are, shall we say, wrong. Call the home. Tell them I'm coming.

(August 21, 1988) In a story about local schools named for heroes, the Chronicle wrote:

"At 10:22 p.m. on March 15, 1961, Capt. Gary L. Herod pushed forward the throttle on his T-33 single-engine jet trainer and left the runway at Ellington Air Force Base to begin a routine flight home to San Antonio's Kelly Air Force Base.

Ten minutes into the flight, over the densely populated Meyerland and Westbury neighborhoods, Herod's plane suffered an engine "flame out."

Herod, 31, decided to stay with the disabled plane, guiding the falling jet away from the neighborhoods, rather than parachute to safety.

Two minutes later, the plane lay burning in a five-foot crater it created in the ground where it crashed at the end of Atwell Street near Braes Bayou. Its pilot lay dead nearby.

(Atwell is two streets west of Chimney Rock)

He left behind his pregnant wife and a 3-year-old daughter.

Four years later, just a few miles from the crash site, the newly opened Herod Elementary School at 5627 Jason was dedicated in his name.

Ivy Spain remembered when the plane went down, a mile from her home, on Willowbend.

She remembers watching television when she "heard sirens, rushed outside and the sky was lit up. They broke in on the show and said a plane had crashed."

In the days after, Spain collected money from neighbors to establish a fund in Herod's name.

"I had been through a war myself," said Spain, who was living in her native England during World War II.

"It's so easy to be a hero in wartime because everyone is around you. But to be a hero by yourself when you are all alone ... It was a very brave thing he did. He thought of the people on the ground even though he had a family of his own to live for."

(And two years before, in February of 1986, there was another Chronicle story about the memorial plaque that once stood at Meyerland Plaza)

"After Herod's death, people in the neighborhood collected about $3,000 for the Herod children's education. The Houston Independent School District named a school in his memory. Merchants at Meyerland shopping center planted a tree, dubbed the "Hero Tree," in his honor and in 1963, placed a marble and bronze plaque in front of the tree.

The Air Force awarded Herod a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross.

Today, the plaque is nowhere to be found."

Edited by FilioScotia
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Ivy Spain remembered when the plane went down, a mile from her home, on Willowbend.

She remembers watching television when she "heard sirens, rushed outside and the sky was lit up. They broke in on the show and said a plane had crashed."

In the days after, Spain collected money from neighbors to establish a fund in Herod's name.

"I had been through a war myself," said Spain, who was living in her native England during World War II.

"It's so easy to be a hero in wartime because everyone is around you. But to be a hero by yourself when you are all alone ... It was a very brave thing he did. He thought of the people on the ground even though he had a family of his own to live for."

This is freaky - I went to Westbury with Ivy Spain's son. I didn't know him at the time, but 30 years later, his wife went to work at the school where I taught.

I remember the tree and the plaque. They were located on the north end of Meyerland - facing Beechnut. They were probably removed when Meyerland was remodeled.

Edited by Alpha
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Here is a 1960 aerial photo posted on another thread by nm5k, quite awhile ago, that shows parts of Meyerland, Westbury, and Marilyn Estates.

That's a remarkable old photo. You can see Meyerland Plaza clearly there at the very bottom, alongside Post Oak as it goes south all the way across South Main. There's Hiram Clarke going south from Main up in the top left corner.

Looking West from Meyerland there's South Rice, and what will be Chimney Rock. There were no houses west of Chimney Rock and North of the bayou, which is why Captain Herod took his plane in at that spot. The crash site couldn't have been much more than a mile from Meyerland Plaza.

I love this picture. In the top right hand corner where Chimney Rock gets close to South Main you can make out faint traces of the old Sam Houston Airport. And at the corner of Chimney Rock and Belfort you can see the beginnings of what would be Westbury Square.

Freakiest of all -- in the very top left hand corner I can actually see the house my first wife and I lived in about ten years after this photo was taken. It's on Simsbrook, four blocks east of Hiram Clarke. Clearly visible. Like I said, a remarkable old photgraph.

Edited by FilioScotia
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This is freaky - I went to Westbury with Ivy Spain's son. I didn't know him at the time, but 30 years later, his wife went to work at the school where I taught.

Dang...I just put 2+2 together.. I know the Spains too... A friend of mine used to go out with her daughter years ago.."Theresa Spain".

I'm sure it must be the same Spains, as they lived on the corner of Willowbend and Chimney Rock. I didn't live here when that

plane crashed. So far, the "end of Atwell, on the other side of the bayou" seems to be most accurate. Which in the 1960 pix,

would put the crash site on the very right edge of the pix. This pix is facing south. Atwell is the street running n/s that is on the

east side of Parker school. In that pix, Mullins is the last n/s street you can see in that pix. Mullins is on the west side of parker

school. I'd have to look at a modern map, but if Atwell continues north even with the existing street, it's possible the crash site

would barely be in that pix. But it's possible it was just slightly out of it too...Depends how far west the crash was from Atwell.

I imagine what he saw in 1961 was very close to what is in that picture. A few more houses around, but I bet still pretty woody

near the bayou. If the crash was actually near the water of the bayou, the site may now be up on the running trail, or in the street,

of N. Braeswood, or maybe now where the apt's, townhouses, etc are on N. Braes.. I'd be curious to know how many feet or yards

north of the bayou the crash was. I guess there is no sign of it now, even if it plowed a 5 ft crater.. After 40 years, I imagine it's

been filled or plowed over.. If the site was out on public property, I could take my metal detector and see if I hit on any old debris.

They probably got most of it, but there might be a few scraps still there. Of course, I'd feel kinda weird out digging a big hole

out on the bayou banks or N. Braeswood.. :/ Any small pieces left are probably pretty deep by now.

MK

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That's an amazing photo. You can see the "Domain Privee" on Old Main Street Road. It looks like Westbury Square shopping center has started construction.

Yep, and you can even make out the "star" that is in the yard of Domain Privee. You can also see all the old Meyer Property

pretty well, if thats what I think it is, around where is now Meyer Park. Also a good shot of willow, gasmer back in the older

days. Those two streets are some of the oldest in that area. Gasmer and willow were noted on the old 1942 planning map.

On Willow, you can see houses that line along willow waterhole bayou. When I was going to Westbury in the early 70's,

that one close the the bayou was already a deserted house, falling apart. Most of the area lining gasmer would later

grow up to be pretty thickly wooded. In that pix, pretty bald looking. Course, no Westbury Hi yet, but they had the old

watertower up already. Ditto for the one on W. Bellort near where the Meyer library would end up being. I moved here

in 69, nine years after that pix was taken. By that time, most of the areas had been filled in as far as Meyerland, even

north of the bayou. I don't know what year Chimney Rock was completed past Braeswood, but it must have been in the

earlier 60's. It had all been there a while in 69. Two lane W. Bellfort wasn't completed past Fondren until after I had

moved here. Maybe about 1970 it was done..

Westbury Centerette at W. Bellfort Chimney Rock was one of the first completed shopping centers in Westbury.

The old original sign that has a clock on it is still there, as are most all the original buildings. There has been a

laundrymat in that center ever since I've been here. I bet it was new and existed there in that pix..

On W. Bellfort at that center, there used to be a Exxon for a long time. But in that picture, it almost looks like a

different building was there at that time. It seems to extend closer to Bellfort than all the rest of the buildings

that held the U-totem, barber shop, etc.. But in later years, that exxon gas station building was nearly even with

all the rest of the buildings. Or so I remember anyway.. There was a Baskin Robbins in that center too back then..

Course, in the late 60's, 70's a jack n the box was west of that center. Later to be scrapped and replaced with the

autozone, pizza joint, cell tower, etc.. Too bad you can't see the S. Main golf course, etc.. You can see the bowling

alley on Post Oak. Also seems to be the Post Oak Ranch BarBQ was there too at that time. In 1970, that Bar B Q

was supposed to have already been there at least 30 years.. A friend of mine worked there then. So that would

place it being there in the 40's. I still go there every once in a while when I get the chance. great bar bq...

I'm gonna ask Moses, "the current owner" if he knows what year that place first opened. He probably knows I bet.

He's been there quite a while now himself. But I still remember the old original owner too.

MK

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Does anyone remember this plane crash?

http://es.houstonisd.org/herodes/About_Herod/Our_Hero.htm

We were living in Marilyn Estates and I had just gone to bed when I heard the plane go over the house and then heard it crash. The explosion lit up my window. I actually thought the Russians had dropped the bomb - this was the time of the cold war.

My dad (who was a professional photographer at the time) grabbed his camera and ran out of the house. He was joined by our neighbor who was a mortician. They got wet running across Braes Bayou and were the first ones at the site.

My dad told me that he saw the helmet on the ground and then realized that it wasn't empty. That's all he would say and I never saw any of the pictures.

A short time later a tree was planted near Meyerland Plaza with a plaque dedicated to Captain Herod.

Does anyone remember this plane crash?

http://es.houstonisd.org/herodes/About_Herod/Our_Hero.htm

We were living in Marilyn Estates and I had just gone to bed when I heard the plane go over the house and then heard it crash. The explosion lit up my window. I actually thought the Russians had dropped the bomb - this was the time of the cold war.

My dad (who was a professional photographer at the time) grabbed his camera and ran out of the house. He was joined by our neighbor who was a mortician. They got wet running across Braes Bayou and were the first ones at the site.

My dad told me that he saw the helmet on the ground and then realized that it wasn't empty. That's all he would say and I never saw any of the pictures.

A short time later a tree was planted near Meyerland Plaza with a plaque dedicated to Captain Herod.

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I remember it well. I was living at Hazen and Hillcroft at the time and remember hearing an explosion but had no idea what it was and did not investigate further. I was about a mile away from the impact so the sound was noticeable but not particularly alarming. I was in a room facing the impact direction but I did not notice any flash. It wasn't until the following day that I learned the cause after listening to the local news. Perhaps a week later I did investigate the site. By that time, everything was cleaned up. The only indication was a memorial Cross with flowers as one today would see along the highway. The surrounding area was graded and there were no debris to be seen. I can't remember whether it wa on the north or south side of the bayou but whichever, it was whthin a few feet of the bank. I never knew about the plaque.

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Not to try and highjack the thread, but you all sound like you are very familiar with the area. Do any of you remember a mansion that sat on the inside corner of 610 across from Meyerland Plaza and does any one know the story behind it. It's been gone for a while.

joe

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Not to try and highjack the thread, but you all sound like you are very familiar with the area. Do any of you remember a mansion that sat on the inside corner of 610 across from Meyerland Plaza and does any one know the story behind it. It's been gone for a while.

joe

I think the info you're looking for is in this thread.

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...?showtopic=7250

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  • 2 weeks later...
I was wrong. I just asked my dad and he said that he didn't take pictures. I guess that's why I never saw them.

He said that the plane crashed just on the other side of Braes Bayou. He and the neighbor were approaching from the south and as they reached the bayou to cross over, the plane exploded. It's a good thing they hadn't crossed it yet. It would have been somewhere between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft.

I found info about Gary Herod on wikipedia, but it says that the plane crashed in the area that now contains Meyerland Plaza. Of course that is wrong. Meyerland was built in 1957 and the crash was nowhere near there.

Yes, I agree, I saw pieces of the plane the day after, and they were perhaps a dozen yards north of the bayou. We got their by driving up hillcroft, and my memory may be wrong but it seemed like the pieces were just west of hillcroft. I think I was attending St Thomas Episcopal school in Meyerland, and I remember a kid talking about hearing the crash.

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  • 1 month later...
That's a remarkable old photo. You can see Meyerland Plaza clearly there at the very bottom, alongside Post Oak as it goes south all the way across South Main. There's Hiram Clarke going south from Main up in the top left corner.

Looking West from Meyerland there's South Rice, and what will be Chimney Rock. There were no houses west of Chimney Rock and North of the bayou, which is why Captain Herod took his plane in at that spot. The crash site couldn't have been much more than a mile from Meyerland Plaza.

I love this picture. In the top right hand corner where Chimney Rock gets close to South Main you can make out faint traces of the old Sam Houston Airport. And at the corner of Chimney Rock and Belfort you can see the beginnings of what would be Westbury Square.

Freakiest of all -- in the very top left hand corner I can actually see the house my first wife and I lived in about ten years after this photo was taken. It's on Simsbrook, four blocks east of Hiram Clarke. Clearly visible. Like I said, a remarkable old photgraph.

Wonderful photo. Actually there were houses being built west of Chimney Rock by then. I lived one street south of Beechnut (Carew) and there were several streets building up towards Braes Bayou. I wasn't quite 5 years old at the time of the crash (I slept through it all!) My dad pointed out the impact point which would place it on N. Braeswood at about Atwell or Mullins. There were few roads there yet but me and my buddies combed that area for years on foot and bike looking for evidence. I went to Herod Elementary from 4th (when it opened) to 6th grade.

If one of Spain's daughters was Andrea, I knew them as well! I met her at Johnston Jr High, which can be scene on Chimney Rock a mile or so south of Braeswood. Hard to believe that my parents paid $17,000 for our house in 1958 when new. Now it's on the tax rolls for over $182,000!

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I enjoyed the photo. I could see my house in Meyerland, near the mall. I was attending Johnston Jr High at the time of the crash. My parents and other friends parents forbid us to go to the crash site the next day, even though it was close to the bike trail we frequently used along the Chimney Rock ditch. It was 3 or 4 days before I actually made it to the site. By then all the debris was gone and I just remember a large burn area. For months I heard other kids boasting they recovered some small part of the plane as a souvenir, although I can't say I actually ever saw any.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The marble stone and plaque is still there near the S.E. corner of Beechnut and Endicott, just East of the Compass Bank. It is at the base of the "Hero Tree." The Bronze Plaque is missing some type of Military Insignia at the top. I can only assume it was vandalized. The Plaque reads as follows:

Hero Tree

A Living Memorial To

Capt. Gary L. Herod

AO1907832

149th Fighter Group (AD)

Texas Air National Guard, Kelly AFB Texas

Who Died A Hero On March 15, 1961

Staying With And Guiding His Falling

Jet Plane Away From The Populous

Meyerland-Westbury Area

Dedicated Memorial Day

May 30, 1961

I took some photos and will try and post but the plaque is weathered and a bit difficult to read.

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I enjoyed the photo. I could see my house in Meyerland, near the mall. I was attending Johnston Jr High at the time of the crash. My parents and other friends parents forbid us to go to the crash site the next day, even though it was close to the bike trail we frequently used along the Chimney Rock ditch. It was 3 or 4 days before I actually made it to the site. By then all the debris was gone and I just remember a large burn area. For months I heard other kids boasting they recovered some small part of the plane as a souvenir, although I can't say I actually ever saw any.

I've still got a piece of the canopy. my best guess is the impact was about where Pontiac St is now and just north of the tree line, which would put it quite a few yards north of N Braeswood St. the whole area had been cleared and would soon be the Meyerland West/Maplewood area. the last paved street east of Chimney Rock is Jason, my buddy lived in house 4 from the corner, I lived in Bellaire. the Chimney Rock ditch was the path to the bayou and wilderness for us. while the channelizing was under construction (already complete in the picture) we would go to the bayou bends cut off by the straightening, but still holding water and fish, and gig frogs, gar, etc and try to sell them to the construction crews.

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A Bit Closer. Sorry for jpg's

post-3718-1175468380.jpg

Hero Tree

A Living Memorial To

Capt. Gary L. Herod

AO1907832

149th Fighter Group (AD)

Texas Air National Guard, Kelly AFB Texas

Who Died A Hero On March 15, 1961

Staying With And Guiding His Falling

Jet Plane Away From The Populous

Meyerland-Westbury Area

Dedicated Memorial Day

May 30, 1961

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  • 1 month later...

That night of the crash we heard sirens so we went outside to see the south sky lit up orange. I thought the Russians has dropped a nuke, ah the imagination of an eleven year old kid.

Fire trucks, cops and pedestrians, in their pijamas, headed south along Renwick to the site, of course my parents wouldn't let me go. Early next morning I made my way from home at 5450 Carew, to the site by going south along Renwick to its dead end, then continued south along the Renwick ditch.

To my surprise the T33 had nosed just 60 feet or so easterly of a giant oak tree that we kids had climbed for years. The only discernable structure was the plane's tail. Upon impact, the cockpit faced southwesterly, when the ejection seat deployed. Scratch marks on the ground, originating from the site, lead to where Herod's body came to rest, just a few feet below the bayou's high bank. The body had been removed, but there were noticeable signs in the grass. I remember picking up a piece of a broken pencil. The metallic eraser band had a gash.

The many on-lookers around the roped-off site were quickly dispersed by the officials. I headed north through the trees where at the edge of a pasture I picked up a piece of the Plexiglas canopy and carried it home. Some days later I gave the piece to, I think his name was Larry, who had a sister named Laura, who I knew from Braeburn Elementary.

Last Mother's day, my mom and I were talking about the crash. It seems a matter of synchronicity I'm posting this.

Percy Giblin

post-4009-1180114102.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Wow I really enjoyed the aerial photo of the area. I lived on Cheena between Runnymeade and Balmforth from 1963 - 1966. I attended Kolter Elementary which apparently had not been built (or even started) when the photo was taken. Interesting that the school was that new when I started attending as my third grade class in 1965 was in a temporary building. I can see the water tower that was near the library and the goofy golf on Bellfort, What memories, thanks for posting the picture.

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  • 5 years later...

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