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Historic Marker Monday

Nick Lee Jul 29

Takes us to Southwest Morgan County. Standing silently along Hwy 157 south of Danville, a marker commemorates the “Katy-Did” Crash. An almost forgotten piece World War II era history.

On the marker:
Eight U.S. Army Air Corps officers and enlisted men were killed one-fourth mile east of here near the Roundtop Community on Sunday, April 9, 1944, at 2:20 p.m. when their B-26C Martin Marauder bomber, nicknamed the “Katy-Did”, crashed nose-down, at full throttle, and exploded. The warplane was on an official flight from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia to Memphis, Tennessee when it encountered a severe thunderstorm. Witnesses reported that the plane reappeared from the heavy storm clouds upside down before crashing.

The victims were: Col. Lucius B. Manning, base commander, Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia; Capt. Howard L. Hardy, pilot, La Harpe, Kansas; Capt. Arthur J. Gratis, co-pilot, Seattle, Washington; Sgt. John W. Haney, engineer, Buffalo, New York; Pvt. Matthew J. Georghegan, mechanic, Bronx, New York; Pvt. John H. Bailey, radio man, Trenton, New Jersey; Sgt. James R. Smith, St. Maire, Idaho; 1st Lt. Hugh Williams, Jr., Megehee, Arkansas.

Additional Info:
Gordon Wilhite of Falkville Route 2 told the Hartselle Enquirer in 2014 that he remembered seeing the crash that day.

“Visibility was bad; there was considerable lightning and thunder,” he said. “I saw black smoke coming from the rear of the plane. As it approached a ridge about two miles from where I stood. It appeared to turn on its back or side and go straight down.”

Erected 2014 by Alabama Tourism Department.

From Morgan County Sheriff’s Office