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RAPID CITY, S.D. — An 82-year-old Rapid City resident and his son are trying to create a memorial to commemorate the site of a B-17 bomber crash that happened 70 years ago on the edge of the city.
The plane from the Rapid City Army Air Base was flying nearly straight down on Sept. 6, 1943, when it hit the ground, witnesses said. All 10 people on board were killed.
Harold Stone was 12 when he and a friend ran to the crash site and found the still smoldering wreckage with no military police or other people in sight, he told KNBN television.
“And then after we were in there for a while, MPs came and made us get out of there,” Stone said. “They just didn’t want us in there.”
Stone and his son, Greg, have used old photographs and key landmarks to relocate the crash site. An old wellhead on East Centre Street just off East Highway 44 became the crucial evidence.
“Without the picture of this well and old metal building in the background you couldn’t line up,” Harold Stone said.
The B-17 bomber, known as the flying fortress, was the workhorse of the European theater during World War II. One of every three B-17s that flew bombing missions over German territory during the war was lost.
The Stones are hoping to secure funding for a permanent monument to remind people of what happened and honor those who lost their lives.
“Since they died here I think it’s just as important we remember them as the ones who died at Normandy, because they were all part of the war effort,” Harold Stone said.