An Idaho Veteran’s Day Story You May Not Know
This is a story that not many remember, or have even heard of, that took the lives of 8 airmen the Sunday before Christmas 1943.
The crash killed eight of the nine men who left Pocatello Army Air Base early in the morning. Three parachuted from the plane, but only one survived that.
Just before noon on the Sunday before Christmas, Dennis Burk and a fellow rancher were herding sheep near the Craters of the Moon when they saw a B-24E bomber try to make an emergency landing on an old lake bed after all but one of its four engines lost power.
This past summer, Bureau of Land Management volunteer Marc McDonald found the remains of the bomber on BLM land managed by the Shoshone Field Office. McDonald contacted Lisa Cresswell, BLM Shoshone Field Office Archaeologist and assisted her with recording and mapping the site.
Pocatello and Boise were training sites for bomber crews and fighter pilots. The Pilot Lt. Robert C. Gitt, of Baltimore, Md., flew the plane for 45 minutes while the crew tried to solve what appeared to be an electrical problem, with no success. According to Dennis Burk, 3 of the airmen jumped from the plane just 500 feet off the ground. They were taken to Twin Falls County General Hospital, where two died.
All six remaining on board the aircraft died in the crash. So now work is underway to preserve the Idaho site and to honor those Veterans that gave their lives that cold December morning in 1943.
To all Veterans, we honor you and your service to our country!