Paul Thomas Cullen

Paul Thomas Cullen

Death 23 Mar 1951 (aged 49)
Cenotaph Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
Plot Emmanuel, Block 11, Lot 21, Herwitz Family Plot
Memorial ID 57408636 · View Source
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US Air Force General. First commander of the 7th Air Division of Strategic Air Command and deputy commander and chief of staff of the 2nd Air Force. Lost and presumed killed when his C-124A Globemaster II transport ditched and sank during a routine Atlantic flight to the United Kingdom. Cullen and his command staff were picked up at Barksdale Air Force Base by the airplane that had left Walker Air Force Base at Roswell, N.M., with almost 50 of the nation's top strategic bombing and nuclear weapons personnel from the 509th Bomb Group. On March 23, 1951, about 800 miles southwest of Ireland, the airplane issued a Mayday call, reporting a fire in the cargo crates. The C-124 ditched and all aboard exited safely with life preservers and climbed into life rafts equipped with cold weather gear, food, water, flares, and Gibson Girl hand-cranked emergency radios. A B-29 from England located the survivors, who fired several flares, but was not carrying any rescue equipment. The B-29 radioed the coordinates of the survivors and circled until it was reached critical fuel and was forced to return to base. When the first rescue craft reached the scene 19 hours later, all that was found was a burned briefcase and a partially deflated life raft. Despite the largest air and sea search up to that time, not one body was found. Cullen and the 53 men with him had disappeared. Later it was revealed that Soviet submarines and surface vessels were active in the area. It has been speculated that Cullen and his companions were taken aboard Soviet submarines and brought to Russia for interrogation. Due to their expertise in nuclear and other defense matters, Cullen and the other men on the airplane would have been an intelligence windfall to the Soviets. Cullen had been the air service's leading expert on aerial reconnaissance and aerial photography. He also was the head of photography at the Crossroads atom bomb tests in the Pacific in the late 1940s. He also had served as commander of the 2nd Operations Group on two occasions during World War II. An Air Force trophy for excellence in aerial reconnaissance, the Brig. Gen. Paul T. Cullen Award, was named in his honor.

Bio by: John Andrew Prime

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Gravesite Details Cenotaph in Colorado: 93866675


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: John Andrew Prime
  • Added: 21 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 57408636
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Paul Thomas Cullen (30 May 1901–23 Mar 1951), Find A Grave Memorial no. 57408636, citing Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .