Squadron Scrapbook
Aircraft Accidents

Page One

VR-24 achieved a remarkable safety record during its forty-six year history. That record was established despite sustained operations in some of the most challenging conditions faced by any U.S. Navy squadron short of actual combat. The squadron’s successes were, however, not gained without cost.

The squadron's first accident, and fatalies, occurred when TBM 396 crashed at Athens, Greece in March 1955. Another TBM (BUNO 53122) crashed in the landing pattern at Capodichinno in late 1953. Though TBM 122 belonged to FASRON 77 at the time of its loss, photos and details of that crash are provided on Accident Page Six.

Two R5Ds were lost in 1960. On March 8, 1960, BUNO 56521, was on a flight from Naples to Port Lyautey when it crash-landed at the 8,000 ft level of the 11,000 ft high Montana Piedra de Los Lobos, east of Granada, Spain. Amazingly, all of the twenty-four souls on board survived, although the flight engineer and and several passengers were seriously injured. An account of the accident and rescue is contained in an excerpt from the March 18, 1960 edition of the Lyautey Log shown on Scrapbook Ops Summary/Propwash Page Twenty.

In August 1960,BUNO 56518 crashed during a training flight at Port Lyautey. Directional control of the aircraft was lost shortly after lift-off and the plane belly-landed just across the Ouede Sebou River from the air station. The plane was destroyed by fire but all eight on board escaped without serious injury.

In January 1972, the squadron lost two aircraft within a two-week period. One accident involved a C-1A while the other, a C2. Both caused fatalities. These two accidents are addressed in the newspaper articles below.

Another C-2 was lost, with eight fatilities, on 16 November 1973. According to reports, the aircraft lost both engines shortly after takeoff from Soudha Bay Crete. The aircraft crashed into the sea about five miles from Runway 11. Fuel contamination, possibly water, is suspected as the cause of the near-simultaneous loss of both engines.

Two C1A Traders were lost in a suspected mid-air on 24 November 1983. The exact cause of that accident has never been determined. What is known is that the two squadron C-1s departed Majorca, Palma in company for a flight back to Sigonella. Palma ATC reported that radar contact was simultaneously lost with both aircraft at approximately 150 miles from the departure field. Subsequent SAR efforts failed to find any survivors and only a life raft and minimal debris from either plane. Names of those killed in this accident include:
LCDR Leon H. Gower - VR-24
LT. Cynthia S. Grubbs- VR-24
Lt. Michael G. Veringa -VR-24
LTJG Mark R. Caldwell - VR-24
AMS2 John D. Jackson - VR-24
AD2 Ferando Pena - TEMDU to VR-24 from the USS Kennedy
AMH2 Douglas M. Wenzel - OMD, NAS Sigonella

It has been reported that the squadron lost a CT-39G, also in 1983. No details on the circumstances of such an accident were available at the time this update to the squadron accident pages was posted.

All of these accidents graphically illustrate the hazardous nature of many missions flown by VR-24 flight crews. Despite the losses addressed here, everyone who served in the squadron should feel proud of the squadron’s record. But never should anyone forget the sacrifice of those who lost their lives while fulfilling the squadron’s mission.

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