Dakota Ridge Memorial
Sweetwater, Texas

The Dakota Ridge Memorial is dedicated to the 25 men killed in the crash of a U.S.A.A.F. C-47 Dakota transport aircraft on April 20, 1945. The aircraft was en route from Midland, Texas to Berry Army Airfield in Nashville, Tennessee when over Sweetwater the aircraft was seen burning. A Mayday was sent from the aircraft at 06:30 which was picked up at Avenger Field in Sweetwater and the plane soon after this crashed into the scrub about 3 miles south of Sweetwater, there were no survivors. All but one of the men onboard were returning home from combat in Europe.

The memorial was built about nine years ago at the exact site of the crash, which is on private property and not accessible to the public. MaritimeQuest received permission from the owner to access and photograph the memorial provided the exact location was not disclosed. The memorial was conceived and erected by the property owner with the help of a number of volunteers who raised the money and provided labor and materials for the project. The memorial is 25' tall in memory of the 25 men who were lost in the crash and is topped with a metal model of a C-47. The propeller is genuine and from a C-47, it was donated by another World War II veteran when he learned of the project.

Several family members of the men who were killed attended the dedication and others have visited the memorial over the years. Inside the base are a number of artifacts including a number of parts of the plane, dog tags from some of the men who died and several newspapers from the time. On special occasions a 48 star flag is flown at half mast in honor of those men who perished in the crash.

Another view of the Dakota Ridge Memorial.

Another view of the Dakota Ridge Memorial.

Close up of the dedication which lists the names of all 25 men who died on the plane. The rattlesnake seen in the lower right corner was added to the stone because it was the capture and sale of $1400.00 worth of rattlesnakes which paid for the shipping costs to get the propeller to the site.

View from the back side of the Dakota Ridge Memorial.

Close-up of the model C-47 atop of the memorial.

Another view of the Dakota Ridge Memorial.
All photos © 2011 Michael W. Pocock
and MaritimeQuest all rights reserved

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in U.S.A.A.F. C-47 Dakota (41-18451)
April 20, 1945
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Arnold, Richard B.
2nd Lieutenant
Syracuse, NY
Bailey, James A.
1st Lieutenant
Long Island, NY
Bennell, David L.
1st Lieutenant
Pittsburgh, PA
Blaess, Robert H.
Sturgis, AR
Boone, Daniel B.
San Diego, CA
Boyd, Grady O.
Staff Sergeant
Rankin, TX
Carlson, Kenneth W.
Private 1st Class
Oskaloosa, IA
Distefano, Vincent R.
Lodi, NJ
Downey, William T.
Wayneburg, PA
Edwards, William H.
1st Lieutenant
Winterset, IA
Epperly, Leonard K.
1st Lieutenant
Fayetteville, AR
Fuller, Robert L.
Longview, TX
Goodenough, Robert C.
Dover, NJ
Green, William A.
Private 1st Class
Tampa, FL
Jennelle, D. E.
Lewiston, MI
Kamraas, Samuel
1st Lieutenant
San Antonio, TX
McLaughlin, James D.
Private 1st Class
Bloomfield, NJ
Mrozek, Chester W.
1st Lieutenant
Chicago, Il
Prete, Frank A.
1st Lieutenant
Shenandoah, PA
Rawls, John R.
Asheville, NC
Scieszka, Joseph A.
1st Lieutenant
Adams, MA
Testament, Myron V.
Columbus, OH
Wallace, Jr., James H.
1st Lieutenant
Ridgeview, NY
Walston, Virgle E.
Palestine, TX
West, Robert L.
1st Lieutenant
Cincinnati, OH

Feb. 8, 2012

I found the webpage for the Dakota Ridge Memorial by through a search engine. How fortunate I was
to find it.  One of the men killed in the crash was my uncle, Sgt. William T. Downey.  "Uncle Bill" and
my dad were the closest among seven brothers. I was a toddler at the time of his death. While I can't
really recall him I was told he came to visit me before shipping out for his last and fatal assignment.
Thank you for making this site available.

Dan Downey

May 29, 2017

I came across this page today while searching for information on my maternal grandfather's brothers who died during WWII. Chester W. Mrozek was on his way home on emergency leave because his family had just gotten word that another son, Stanley, was killed in Luzon. Even though I never knew him this made me cry. I don't think anyone in our family, at least my direct family, knew about this. Thank you for the information on this Memorial Day.

Kristyn Wagner

May 26, 2020

My uncle Joe Scieszka perished in this crash. I so enjoyed reading this article; each serviceman has their own story. Joe was married less than a month and wanted to visit his wife in Massachusetts, hence he was on board. I continue to mourn the uncle I never met. However, Uncle Joe's hometown is Adams, Massachusetts, not Beverly. Although his wife Alice was from Beverly, Joe was born, raised, and is buried in Adams, MA. I visit his grave frequently as he is buried next to his parents and my dad (Joe's brother) and mom are buried close by. Joe's sister Dolores is the only sibling still alive. Thank you for correcting this information.

Charmaine Scieszka Paquette
Joe's niece

To submit a photo, biographical information or correction please email the webmaster.

Page published Jan. 21, 2011