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April 5, 1942

A Bleak and Stormy Easter Sunday Evening on Oahu



Two US military patrol aircraft crashed within hours of each other in the dark stormy skies of Oahu this night.

The other aircraft was a Navy PBY-5A out of NAS Kaneohe.   That crash was commemorated last year on the 64th anniversary of the crash.  The night of 4/5/42 claimed 19 US aviators.


This US particular Army air Corps B-17E arrived in Hawaii on 18 Dec 41, 11 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It crashed into the cliffs of Mt. Keahiakahoe near the Nu'uanu Pali less than 4 months later on Easter Sunday, 5 April 1942.  This crash occurred only a few hours later than the PBY-5A that crashed at Makapu'u on the same evening.  We have thus far, been unable to find detailed accounts of the investigation, other than a brief narrative and the names and ranks of the crew members. 


According to a July 2006 account by Mr. Robert Gaskill, a 42nd bomb Squadron member at the time, and who was the roommate of Lt. Bushee the bombardier of the aircraft; The aircraft was on a combat patrol looking for the Japanese submarine that was reportedly refueling a seaplane that had recently dropped bombs on Mt. Tantalus near Honolulu .


Unexploded 500 lb bombs rolled down the ravine of the site approximately 30 years after the crash during a flash flood.   Unconfirmed reports relate that some of the wreckage was dragged down from the site in the mid 90s.


This site should only be visited by very experienced climbers as it is very steep in places with evidence of frequent landslides, making the approach extremely dangerous, possibly life threatening.


During the first week of February 2007, two nephews of SSGT Mathias Donart, in Honolulu for the NFL Pro Bowl, asked to be shown the site of the accident.  They had contacted us at the HAPS website via an internet search of Donart's name and had contacted us in late 2006.  (See photo gallery below)


HAPS received the necessary government permissions placed a granite crew memorial at the Pali Lookout on April 1, 2007.  The dedication ceremony was performed by USAF personnel from Hickam AFB on the 65th anniversary,  April 5, 2007. at 10:00am at the Nu'uanu pali Lookout. 


Speaking at the ceremony was Colonel Stan Osserman, commander of the 154th Mission Support Group, Hickam AFB, and the invocation and blessing was done by Chaplain Michael Weber, LtCol, also of Hickam.   Also in attendance from Hickam was Dr. Tim Keck, Command Historian of the Pacific Air Forces and Senior Historian Steve Diamond, also of PACAF.  News coverage of the event was provided by KHNL Channel 8 TV Click to view TV news report of Leland Kim

and the  (Click to view) Honolulu Star Bulletin article.

According to the State Parks Division over 1.1 million people visit this park annually.  If only a small percentage of them stop to reflect on these aviator's ultimate sacrifice, we will have served our purpose...

Only Newspaper Report: 

Official USAAF Cable of Accident: 

Photo Gallery

1st Lt Ward Cox in Class A Uniform

Courtesy Patricia Cox Cookson

Lt Cox and unidentified crewmembers after a long mission in March of 1942

Courtesy Patricia Cox Cookson

MsSgt Jesse Schneider 2nd from left Standing with his crew #1 of the 38th Rec. Sqdn

Courtesy Robert R. Schneider

Sgt Wilbert Gravitt relaxing

Courtesy Joanna Gravitt Yeager

Elevator Section

Errol and Colin Pausing

More Control Surface

Large Piece of Fuselage

More Fuselage

View Looking Down

View Looking Up

Main Landing Gear

Piece of Elevator

Turbo Section

View of Mt Olomana

Scott & Colin Halfway There

Stainless Sheet Metal

Structural Bracing

Spooky Terrain

More Pieces of Turbo

Navy Part on USAAF Plane

Navy Shackle Dataplate

Actual Aircraft, Courtesy of the Boeing Co.

Nephews of SSgt. Mathias E. Donart visiting the site in Feb 2007

The plaque ready for dedication

Dr Keck, C. Perry, Leland Kim in conversation

Invocation by Chaplain Weber

Col. Osserman & LtCol Phillips

Dr. Keck and Chaplain Weber

Col. Osserman's speech

Unknown visitor paying respects

Hickam PAO NCO paying respects

Mathis Donart in a Public Relations photo released by the AAC in 1945

Wilbur Gravitt as a Pfc in an AAC Public Relations photo released in 1945

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