Maj Robert Edward Townley

Maj Robert Edward Townley

East Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama, USA
Death 13 Jan 1964 (aged 42)
Grantsville, Garrett County, Maryland, USA
Burial East Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama, USA
Memorial ID 90143406 View Source
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*Jan. 13, 2014 is 50th anniversary of crash, see below for most recent events***
*On July 12, 2014 a 50th commemoration event was held. Family members of the entire crew were present and recognized.

The life of Robert Townley was given during service to his country in *the 1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash of a U.S. military nuclear accident in which a Cold War bomber's vertical stabilizer broke off in winter storm turbulence. The two Mark 53 nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage" and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them, the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport.*

        Crew of Buzz One Four
  Pilot: Major Thomas W. McCormick 1921-1997
  Co-Pilot: Captain Parker C Peedin 1934-2009
  Radar Bombardier:  Major Robert E Townley
  Navigator: Major Robert Lee Payne
  Tail Gunner: TSgt Melvin F Wooten


-The Cumberland Times, July 9, 1965-
     Area Jet Bomber Crash Recalled
GRANTSVILLE - A year ago on the Fourth of July thousands of persons gathered here for the dedication ceremonies of the monument at Little Crossings.
The monument was dedicated in honor of the three crewmen of the giant eight-engine B52 Air Force jet bomber which crashed January, 13, 1964 and to the residents of the area took participated in the search and rescue of the other two members of the plane.
The families of Major Robert Payne and Tech. Sgt. Melvin Wooten attended the dedication a year ago. However, only Donald Townley, son of Major Robert Townley, who was also killed in the crash, was able to attend.
Mrs. Gene Townley, widow of the Air Force major and another son, Reed Townley, were unable to attend the dedication at Little Crossings, however arrived at the site this year to view a memorial, which was erected on the site of where her husband's body was found.
Major Townley's brother George Townley and wife Margaret, and daughters Gina and Lisa of Orange, Texas, along with Mr. and Mrs. Donald Townley, visited friends in Cumberland, Westernport and Grantsville this Fourth of July.
Last Sunday afternoon memorial and dedication services were held at the crash site where Major Townley lost his life. Just a small group of 30 persons attended the services after walking through the woods from the highway.
Rubbles of the plane still are scattered about and the trees bear marks which were slashed by the big bomber.
The service was opened by Rev. S. D. Sawyers, Trinity Methodist Curch, who read a reading of the life of Major Townley, which was written by the Major's brother, Clyde Townley.
Major Robert E. Townley, United States Air Force, was born and reared in a small town in Alabama of an average peace loving family. He grew, joined the church, went to school and played football like the average American without any thought of becoming a service member, and certainly not as a career.
As a teenager and a younger man his strongest desires were to be a high school football coach, and for a very brief period he was just that. While a football coach he expected his team to live by the rules, because above all things he lived by the rules. He was a studious person, lived by the laws of God and man and was dedicated in his pursuits, both as a professional airman and as a family man. He entered the military service during the early part of World War II, and after service in Italy returned to civilian life, going to college and teaching school.
Shortly after the Korean conflict began, he re-entered the service. After the Korean conflict ended he felt that since he had spent so much time in the service he might as well make it a career. He was a peace loving dedicated man, who sincerely felt that the greatest service that he could render his country was to do his part in honoring the motto of the Strategic Air Command, which is: "Peace is our Profession."

Rev. David E. Feller, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Grantsville, Greenville and Salisbury parish, read the 23rd Psalm.
A white marble cross was donated by Vernon Golder of the Tri State Memorial Company, Cresaptown and Piedmont. It was erected on the land of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Russell, Barton, by Herb Alexander and Dick Fazenbaker, of Westernport.
An American flag and a basket of roses presented by friends was placed by the marble stone cross.
-end Cumberland Times July, 1965-

The following links are to .pdf articles about the Crash of Air Force Buzz One Four and it's crewmen, including my Uncle Robert.

Historical Marker Database
A Night To Remember
B-52 Crash (This is five pages full of photos and newspaper articles.)
1964 Savage Mountain B-52 Crash (An easy to read (with lots of details)Wikipedia source.)
The Rush to Cover the Crash of B52
Inmates to Clear Trail to B-52

Almost 50 years later this is still in the current news
Debris from 1964 crash still litters West Maryland- VideoSept 26, 2013

All Crewmen Deserve Same RecognitionThis link is defunct, so with permission from the author, it is copied below in full
August 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:39 PM
Subject: B 52 crash 1964

I, recently, guided family members of one of the victims of the B 52 crash in 1964, on a tour of the monuments in memory of the servicemen who lost their lives in the crash. We were in agreement that more recognition is due for these men who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Navigator, Robert Payne, who perished on the Poplar Lick ORV Trail, is memorialized by a monument that is 2 1/2 miles down the ORV trail from New Germany Road. The closing of the road, and the consequent reduction in the number of people in that area, has left the memory of Robert Payne nearly as isolated as he was, himself, in the winter of 1964. A sign at the top of the trail, on New Germany Road, explaining the story of the crash, and informing the public of the location of Payne's memorial, is a small price to pay to preserve the memory of this fallen hero.

Bombardier, Robert Townley, whose family was in the area, recently, is memorialized by a monument that is on private ground, on Pine Swamp Road, near Barton. Again, a parking area for several cars, on public property along Westernport Road, a sign with the story of the crash, and a monument to Robert Townley, is minor compensation compared to the sacrifice that Major Townley made. Perhaps, there could even be a letter box at the monument in Grantsville, with directions to the monuments for the three servicemen who perished in the crash. Time should not diminish the appreciation for the sacrifice that these men made. They died for their country the same as if they were fighting on foreign soil.

The monument for Melvin Wooten, the tailgunner on the B 52, in West Salisbury, Pa., should be the standard for all of the monuments. It's inspiring to see the beautiful stone, the American flags, and the well kept flower bed that surrounds the monument. A sign at the site lists all of the organizations who contributed to the creation and maintenance of the site. Congratulations to all. It restores my faith. The two servicemen who perished in Garrett County deserve the same recognition.

2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the crash. In recogniton of this milestone, let us make more effort to preserve the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, when they fell from the crippled plane into our area, in the snowy darkness of January 13th of 1964. This is no way to treat our veterans.

Melvin Schriver, Jr.
19806 Big Lane SW
Midland, Md. 21532
(301) 463-5245

2014, Jan 9th; 4 days prior to the 50th anniversary, John Josselyn debuted this new website to honor the crew.
         Buzz One Four
This is a very comprehensive website and contains not only the previously noted web pages but new information, documentation, and photos as well.

2014, Jan 10; 3 days prior, a video newscast and an article in the Gadsden Times. Jan 10th 2014
The same story with still photos:
The Washington

2014, Jan 11; 2 days prior,an article in the Gadsden Times.
    The Gadsden

2014, Jan 19; 6 days after B-52 Crew Honored by Maryland General Assembly


Robert E Townley was the 3rd child and 3rd son born to Volen William Townley and Leafy Virginia Mauney Townley. His siblings,all deceased are Clyde William Townley, Herman George Townley and "Sis" Gloria Ramona Townley Hofferbert.He married Gene Johnson Townley Waters and has two sons, Don Townley and Ben Reed Townley.

Uncle Robert was killed while on a training flight over Maryland in a B52 bomber carrying nuclear warheads on Jan 13, 1964.

There is a memorial erected in his honor in Barton, (near Grantsville) Maryland, the site of the crash. A stone cross with the inscription "In Loving Memory of Major Robert E Townley, Strategic Air Command, May 3 1921, Jan 13, 1964.

Son of:
Volen William Townley
Leafy Virginia Mauney Townley

Sibling of:
Clyde William Townley
Herman George Townley
Gloria Ramona Townley Hofferbert 1928-2005

Husband of:
Gene Johnson Townley

Father of:
Donald Townley
Ben Reed Townley

Grandfather of:
Rob Townley
Re Townley


Robert E Townley
Major 824 Bomb SQ AF
World War II AFCM
May 3, 1921 Jan 13 1964