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Army Transport Crashes Near Premier: July 1, 1942

Monument to soldiers killed in plane crash near
Geneva Steele Collection (1530 13)
Monument to soldiers killed in plane crash near Premier, July 1, 1942.

Just after noon on July 1, 1942, a troop transport plane crashed and burst into flames on a mountainside about four miles from the McDowell County seat of Welch, located near the community of Premier. 

All 21 members of the U.S. Army Air Corps aboard the plane were killed.

The crash occurred during a heavy rainstorm with thick fog. However, the crash was caused by a mechanical malfunction. While flying at an altitude of about 500 feet, the transport lost a wing, plummeted into a community garden, and ended up in a ravine. Debris was scattered on the mountainside for nearly 200 yards. It was the first fatal plane crash in McDowell County history.

It was a tragic reminder of the realities of World War II. Most families in McDowell County had friends and loved ones serving overseas. Hundreds of people turned out for a memorial service in Welch and wept tears of sorrow for the dead soldiers, even though none of the airmen were from the region or from West Virginia.

A monument was later erected near the site of the crash to honor the victims.


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