Letters to the Editor
In the last newsletter, Claudia Knowles asked for information pertaining to the death of her brother after
a USS Ranger cat shot in 1970. The following is a recent message from Claudia.
Hello Again Roddy;
I would like to tell you all what a great group of guys you all are. I have asked many to recall some
thoughts that have been put to sleep many years ago. If only I could understand the loss of John.
I know each and every one of you would have done whatever it took to save this aircraft. I can't
express how grateful I am for the new friends I have been in contact with. Some have made me
laugh, cry and be forever grateful for the new and wonderful things I never knew before. I have one
special friend who has been by my side the whole way. He was one of the first I heard from, and he just
keeps on giving. You know who you are; thanks from "Keep It Simple Sweetheart!" This guy will rain
on my parade every time I get some wild idea. And he keeps the facts from fiction. I thank you all
so very much!
As for the current status there is not much I can tell you other than a lot of stories are about the same.
Each and every story has a wealth of information. I don't know how long if ever I will have an answer
to the questions I have. I'll bet never! That plane is lost forever! Not me or anyone else will ever see
12126 Picalilli Street
Orlando, Florida 32837
C1A Wheelchair 7 Reunion
From: "Martin J. Hall
The Wheel Chair Seven Reunion went off well . . .
. . .well. . . kinda well.
Lt. C. L. Priddy (retired as a Captain) was the only one
(who was "crew" on the plane) to show up. But he was
well received and was a pleasure to meet. He got to fly
WC7 for the first time in 38 years - since he parked her
on the river bed (in Japan).
Lt. Tex Houston went to the hospital for skin cancer.
Cdr. Jack Ramsey at 82 found the trip to much to
handle, which is very understandable. Mrs. Joe Massey was
coming but did not. I have not found out why yet but I
suspect it was for a similar reason as Cdr. Ramsey. Sam Bass
was not there either . . . but a number of people that knew the
plane or the unit did manage to make it. Old friends were
greeted and new ones made, so all in all, it was a success.
Maybe some day when there's a joint VR-21/VRC-50
reunion in the Seattle area, or something like that...maybe
Wheel Chair Seven might find her way there.
By the way, there was another VR-21/VRC-50 C.O.D. there.
I misplaced the Buno but Pete has it. I will let you know
From: Carmencita Matthews
My name is AKCS(AW) Carmencita M. Matthews. I
am currently working at NAPRA, Atsugi Japan and
will be transferring in Feb. 99 as a recruiter in Dallas
Texas. Actually I am not sure exactly where I will be working
since the Dallas district has 34 offices which includes
Oklahoma and Missouri. My husband Robert D. Matthews
will be retiring in Feb. 99.
Just for your info, I was the last VRC-50 Sea Sailor of the Year.
I need to know how much money I should send you as our
membership fee. (Editor Note: $25.00) I would really love
to be a member of the VRC-50 Association. Take care and
hope to hear from you again.
PSC 477 Box 35
FPO AP 96306-2735
From: James E. MacLauchlan
Back about 1987 when I was attending the Military Sealift Command school in Bayonne, NJ, I came upon a
gentleman who was selling POW-MIA bracelets. I read the blurbs on the men he had bracelets for, and
discovered Mr. Piersanti's page on what happened. Because I was on the USS Ranger CVA-61 (1972-1973),
I became interested. I purchased the bracelet.
Since then, I have found out more information on what happened. The report the public sees at this time is
"The plane stalled upon takeoff." According to witnesses the plane had large pumps, or a motor, in the cargo
cage located between the cockpit and the passenger section. Upon catapult launch the load slid to the rear
and instantly killed everyone in the passenger compartment. The eye witnesses said that there was so much
weight in the tail of the aircraft, it could not level off. It flew verically, then fell off and faded
to the left. The pilot tried to pull out, but did not have enough altitude and pancaked flat into the water.
One of your squadron members says there is a safety film video of the crash (all landings
and traps are recorded) In my records I have the location of the crash site (coordinates).
Any information you can help me with
will be appreciated.
I visited the Vietnam wall in Washington, and all the names of the men that died in that crash are listed
there in close proximity.
I am not sure if all the men that died that day have a photo in the St. Louis Records Center. I did get a
photo copy of the photo of Mr. Piersanti. You may be asking by now what is my motive. Well, the only
motive I have at this moment is a desire for a good photo of Mr. Piersanti to be placed in the US Navy
Memorial in Washington, DC, on the computer, in his memory. It could be a video capture on some
footage before the crash. Or a picture that may be in someone's cruisebook, or simply a photo from
someone's photo album that they took personally.
BMCS James E. MacLauchlan
18 Cedar Street