October 29, 2022 | Last updated May 18, 2023

Marker Monday: B-17G Flying Fortress and P-47D Thunderbolt Crash, 1944

Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past. Today we focus on a tragic story of a training exercise gone wrong in the skies over Milligan, Nebraska


Nebraska Highway 41, north of Milligan, Fillmore County, Nebraska

View this marker’s location 40.510226, -97.38521

Marker Text

On September 8, 1944, P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighters from the Bruning Army Air Field conducted training attack maneuvers with two formations of B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers from the Sioux City Army Air Field. When one P-47 attempted to terminate its mock attack, it collided with the left wing of a B-17, rupturing the bomber’s fuel tank. Both planes exploded. Most of the B-17 wreckage landed on the Milo Buzek, Dea Baldwin, and Henry Nezda farms, 9 miles south and 1/2 mile east of Milligan. The tail section fell on the Lester Krupicka farm. Military officials conducted an extensive search to recover the B-17’s top secret Norden bombsight. The P-47 crashed on the Reinhart Schielke farm, 9 miles south and 1 mile west of Milligan, and its pilot, 2nd Lt. John T. McCarthy, was killed. Of the B-17 crewmen, Cpl. LeNoir A. Greer, Cpl. Walter A. Divan, Pfc.. Reuben L. Larson, and Pvt. Albert L. Mikels survived, while 2nd Lt. William F. Washburn, 2nd Lt. Bernard I. Hall, 2nd Lt. Lyle C. Baxmann, F/O George A. Budovsky, Cpl. John E. Tuchols, and Pvt. Henry C. Sedberry lost their lives.

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