On March 18, 1942, four U.S. Army Air Corps pilots lost their lives within a quarter mile of this marker. Three months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, these pilots left Wayne County Airport near Detroit flying P-39F Airacobra pursuit planes. They were part of the Army Air Corps Ferry Command delivering new aircraft to Louisville, KY. As they entered Allen County, a blinding snow storm limited visibility and convinced flight leader Lt. Edward H. Saunders to make a U-turn to escape the perilous conditions. With ice building on their wings and windshields, all four pilots, flying in close formation, crashed their planes into the ground within seconds of each other. There were no survivors. Although these men never faced the enemy, their mission was crucial to the United States in fighting the war. (Continued on other side)
Lt. Edward H. Saunders of Lake Village, AR: Lt. Armel J. Kennedy of Oklahoma City, OK: Lt. Eugene H. Anderson of Kewanee, IL: and Lt. Earl A. Houser of Pesotum, IL of the United States Air Corps gave their lives in the service of this country. They were flying P-39F Airacobra pursuit planes developed and built by Bell Aircraft of Buffalo, New York. The plane had a revolutionary design with an 1,150 hp Allison liquid cooled V12 engine located behind and below the pilot. Armed with a cannon that fired through the propeller hub as well as four machine guns, it was one of the first single-seat fighters equipped with tricycle landing gear. About 10,000 P-39 Airacobras were built between 1938 and 1945.