Corporal Elmer A. Diercks

Need Photograph US Army
Service Number:
Born: January 1, 1929, Yuma, Colo.
Died: December 22, 1954 in plane crash near Pittsburgh, Penn.
Buried: Near Salem, Oregon ?

Son of Adolph and Loraine (Deinert) Diercks of Oregon (previously Yuma). Grandson of Herman and Helena (Klinzman) Diercks.

Memorial Marker Photo?

Yuma Pioneer - February 3, 1955

Elmer Diercks Was Victim of Crash

Relatives here have recently heard that Elmer Diercks was one of the ten soldiers killed in the crash of a big plane at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 22.

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Diercks, and the family lived near Yuma until 1936 when they moved to Oregon.  He was a nephew of the late husband of Mrs. Edna Deinert.

The plane was bringing several soldiers home for the Christmas holidays, when it suddenly went out of control and crashed into a river.  A Sterling soldier was another victim of the crash.  Elmer was to have received honorable discharge from the service, and would have been 26 years of age on January 1.

McKeesport Daily News of December 23, 1954, McKeesport, Penn. (Extract)

An airliner chartered to wing Army veterans home for Christmas discharge carried 10 of the 28 aboard on a flight to eternity last night when it "pancaked" in distress into the Monongahela River here.

Four crewmen and 14 soldiers who were spared death in the ditching of a chartered air liner in the Monongahela River were recovering from exposure and shock in McKeesport Hospital today.

The survivors were identified as:
Joseph Greknowicz, 26, of Seattle, Wash.;
Clarence Chapman, 35, of Tacoma, Wash.;
Charles Carter, 35, of Tacoma, and
Robert Walker, 35, of Seattle,
all personnel of the Johnson Flying Service, Missoula, Mont., firm which operated the ill-fated flight under charter for the U. S. Army.

Army personnel saved were identified as:
Pfc. Robert Gill, 23, of Grangeville, Idaho;
Cpl. Charles Lutoe, 22, of Eugene, Oregon;
Cpl. John Freehling, 22, of Denver, Colo.;
Cpl. Roy Phelps, 24, of Mae, Washington.
Cpl. Olev Adamson. 22. of Portland, Oregon;
Sgt. Paul Middleton, 21, of Granger, Washington;
Cpl. James Everly, 24, Lakewood, Calif.;
Cpl. Ronald Johnson, 22, of Hawthorne, Calif.;
Cpl. Robert Schaefer, 22, of Salem, Oregon.
Cpl. Tony Toftemark, 22, of Eugene, Oregon;
Cpl. Frank Kusumi, 22, of Los Angeles;
Cpl. Robert Norgren. 24. of Pueblo, Colo.;
Pfc. Phillip Wheeler, 22, of Ririe, Idaho; and
Pfc. Duwain Crow, 22, of Kellog, Idaho.

Those reported missing from a passenger list released by Army authorities at Camp Kilmer, N. J., were:
Pfc. Harry D. Moss,
Pfc. Lester W. Donahue,
Cpl. Elmer A. Diercks,
Cpl. Carl O. Thim,
Pfc. Joseph R. Harkema,
Cpl. Joseph Selvaggio,
Cpl. Donald T. Seitzinger.
Cpl. Bob D. Whipple and
Cpl. Robert F. Wilder.

Also missing is the pilot, Harold A. Poe of Seattle, Wash.


The plane was chartered to fly soldiers, who were returning from assignments in Germany, from Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, to Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Ord, California, and Fort Lewis, Washington where they were scheduled to be processed for discharge in time to return home for the Christmas holidays. When the plane contacted the Allegheny County Airport where it was scheduled to refuel the pilot told the tower that he was apparently short of fuel. The pilot ditched the airplane in the Monongahela River when he saw he wasn't going to make the airport.

According to the survivors everyone aboard survived the ditching un-injured and made it out of the airplane but those missing either couldn't swim or succumbed to the icy waters.

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