Wilfred Benjamin Crutchfield

Military

Object Number - UPL 22229 - P-47D-30-RE #44-20425 Kentucky Colonel Code: B8-W 363rd FG - 379th FS Pilot - Fred Crutchfield

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Kentucky Colonel
  • Unit: 362nd Fighter Group 379th Fighter Squadron

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

Madisonville, KY 42431, USA 3 March 1918

Other

Combat Mission

54595 Prüm, Germany 22 January 1945 as the Battle of the Bulge was winding down, Captain Wilfred Crutchfield of the 378th Fighter Squadron discovered 1500 German vehicles of all types concentrated in a small area around Prum, Germany, part of the Sixth SS Panzer Armee embarking for the Eastern Front to try to stanch the Russian advance. The 362nd Fighter Group went on a rampage, destroying 315 trucks, seven tanks, 15 horse-drawn vehicles, numerous heavy gun positions and seven half-tracks. A further 108 trucks were damaged.

Died

Mt Rainier National Park, Washington 98304, USA 15 April 1968 On a chilly, cloud-filled day last month, U.S. Air Force Col. Wilfred Crutchfield was laid to rest at last. His children stood watch as Colonel Crutchfield's remains and those of his co-pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Ivan O'Dell, were lowered into the ground in a single casket at Arlington National Cemetery on December 7, 2005. The Air Force flew the families, including Crutchfield's son, Hayden Crutchfield of Lake Worth, to Virginia for the burial. The service came 37 years after the pilots' jet crashed into Mount Rainier in Washington state. The pair were returning to McChord Air Force Base from Mather Air Force Base in California, where, ironically, they were scheduled to be recertified in ejection seat training. During the return flight on April 15, 1968, Colonel Crutchfield and Lieutenant Colonel O'Dell received wrong directions from an air traffic controller. Reports later blamed the crash on human error. The area was searched, but weather conditions prevented recovery teams from finding the plane or the men. Only a few items were recovered. A memorial service for Colonel Crutchfield, who was known as "Crutch," was held in his hometown of Madisonville, Kentucky, after the crash. Even so, close friends and family, who knew him as "Willy," hoped he might someday walk out of the mountains at any time, his son said. In October 2004, wreckage from the pilots' plane, a T-33 trainer, surfaced. The plane apparently traveled down the side of Mount Rainier along with a glacier. The remains of the two men later were recovered, and the plane's tail section was recovered a few months ago. The men were buried with full military honors. Colonel Crutchfield joined the Army Air Corps during World War II. During the war, he distinguished himself as the most highly decorated airman from Kentucky. He remained in the Air Force for 25 years. Colonel Crutchfield was a frequent visitor to the Lake Worth area, where his mother and stepfather, Neva and Hayden Ogden, lived. They came to the area in 1946, and his stepfather served on the board of directors of the former First Marine Bank. Eventually, Colonel Crutchfield hoped to retire in Lake Worth, said his son Hayden, who is telephone sales supervisor for the Florida Pennysaver. Colonel Crutchfield's third wife, Helen, died in January 2004. "She really kept my dad's memory alive to us," Crutchfield said. The burial ceremony was the first time the families of both pilots were reunited since 1968. Lieutenant Colonel O'Dell's wife and two daughters attended the ceremony as well. Among those present for the burial were an assistant undersecretary of the Air Force and a three-star general. "The military doesn't forget," Crutchfield said. "They never give up. They never rest." Crutchfield said he was glad the families had a year to prepare for the ceremony. It was difficult but did provide some degree of closure, he said. "This was our Christmas present from the past." A/C was T-33A s/n 56-3664

Buried

7 December 2005 Arlington National Cemetery Arlington Arlington County Virginia, USA Plot: Section 60 Site 7839
Madisonville, KY 42431, USA

Wilfred Benjamin Crutchfield: Gallery (1 items)