Bush - #61
Photo Needs Identification
Standing L-R: Bush, Kelton G. (P); Graham, Sam A. (CP); Higgins, Donald C. (N); McCrary, Edwin L. (B)
Squatting L-R: Chisolm, Thomas C. Jr.; Bryson, Houston S.; Culpepper, Harold M.; Sweeney, James K.; Jackson, Donald W.; Worlock, William F.
Standing L-R: Higgins, Donald C. (N); Bush, Kelton G. (P); Graham, Sam A. (CP); McCrary, Edwin L. (B)
Squatting L-R: Novotny, Billy; ?????; ?????; ?????; Atz, John
Apparently, while working on his gun, Novotny accidentally pulled his oxygen hose from the supply plug and at that altitude the supply of oxygen in the air would only allow him to be conscious for a few seconds.
It is thought that when Atz left the tail turret to check on Novotny, he saw him lying on the deck, and in his hurry to help, forgot to take his portable oxygen tank with him, for it was found in its regular place in the tail turret. By the time he reached Novotny, Atz had collapsed also.
Artificial respiration with pure oxygen was applied until the plane could be landed at Tonopah, Nevada. Even though medics boarded the plane as soon as it landed, no measures taken could prevent their deaths.
Billy Novotny and John Atz were two more men that died while stationed at Hammer Field, Fresno. Sgt. Novotny, the waist gunner, and Sgt. Atz, as the tail turret, on Lt. Bush's crew, set out on a practice gunnery mission in their new B-24. Novotny told Lt. Bush he was going to go back to the waist of the plane and do some work on his fifty cal. machine gun. Whenever a B-24 reached 10,000 feet or more they wore oxygen masks and had three minute oxygen checks so that they could report their okay. When Novotny failed to answer the three minute oxygen check, the pilot called back to the tail gunner who was Atz. He asked him to see what was wrong. After repeated calling got no answer from him, Lt. Bush sent Engineer, Sgt. Jackson to the waist of the plane. He reported that both men were unconscious, Atz lying on top of Novotny. Atz and Novotny were both wearing their oxygen masks but neither of them had them plugged into the supply line.
Courtesy of Pat Piggee
Lt. Donald C. Higgins (N)