Nebraska WWII Fatal Crash Site # 42

August 3, 1944

The crash at Naper, Nebraska, is believed to be the worst accident during WWII in terms of loss of life (28 airmen) from one single aircraft in the United States. A flight crew of four (4) in a C-47A (42-23652) were transporting twenty-four (24) rated P-47 pilots from the Bruning Army Air Field to the Pierre (South Dakota) Army Air Field for advanced training. Near the small town of Naper the plane encountered a thunderstorm and apparently flew into it or tried to get above it. Witnesses on the ground said that a simultaneous flash of lightning coincided with them hearing the motors of the plane stop at approximately 8:30 p.m. The plane was then seen coming down out of the clouds and out of control. The plane crashed in a ravine in a pasture instantly killing all 28 aboard. Investigation into the accident determined that wreckage had been scattered across an area two hundred yards wide by one mile long leading up to the actual site of the impact. The exact cause of the crash was never fully determined and several possibilities existed as to why the C-47 crashed.

A C-47 similar to this one carried the 28 airmen toward Naper.

The NAPER 28 flag at the memorial site.

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This crash site was visited on April 13, 2007, with the assistance of the landowners. The exact site is well-documented and has an iron cross erected at the site. A memorial for this crash exists along Highway 12 at the cemetery south of the town of Naper which is approximately five miles northeast of the crash site.

An iron cross marks the location of the crash site that took 28 lives.

Jerry Penry (right) with the owners of the land where the C-47 had crashed.

A pilot's view of the surrounding countryside near the crash site.

Crash Site Book