Capt. Vernon Moe, Travis Air Force Base pilot, died when the C-47 he was flying crashed into a slope of Mount Lassen, Calif., in a blizzard while flying from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., to Travis on Dec. 26, 1951.
After flying during World War II, he became a crop duster, and was drafted back into the Air Force after the Korean War broke out.
During the war, a young Lt. Moe was a pilot in our squadron of planes sent to Australia in April 1942, that was later named the famous Air Transport Squadron that flew supplies to our American and Australian troops fighting in the jungle of New Guinea. He also flew supplies into China to our men fighting the Japanese.
Capt. Moe’s C-47 made it to Fairchild Air Base and was flying back to Travis. It was last reported seen over Klamoth Falls, Ore. By the time the C-47 reached Mount Lassen, the area’s weather station reported low clouds. The last radio contact with the aircrew indicated they were lost near Redding, Calif., and were getting ice on the wings, according to the accident report.
Capt. Moe and his aircrew were members of the 1733rd Air Transport Squadron, and they had five other passengers.
An air search failed to find the aircraft because a heavy snowstorm covered the wreckage. It became visible the next spring, after the snow had melted.
Wreckage of the C-47 was discovered on the east slope of Crescent Crater on Mount Lassen by a tourist on May 30, 1952.
The aircraft apparently slammed into the ground and burned, according to reports by investigating officers. All bodies were recovered by the Army, which then burned and buried the aircraft at the site of the crash.
(This story is about Military
Air Transport Service (MATS). I’m very proud to have served in the headquarters that was in charge of their squadron for 15 of my 27-year Air Force career. I was happy to find another Jenkins World War II vet, Joe Bukovich, who served in this famous squadron, and was in Australia as a crew member in 1942.)
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.