On May 3rd, 1943, the U.S. Army Air Forces lost one of its most significant leaders in a flying accident. Lt.Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews perished alongside twelve other passengers and aircrew when B-24D Liberator 41-23728 Hot Stuff slammed into Mt. Fagradalsfjall, near Grindavik, Iceland. The Liberator was going around after attempting to land for a refueling stop in inclement weather at RAF Kaldadarnes.
General Andrews had been returning to the USA to receive his fourth star, and unbeknownst to him at the time, promotion to Supreme Allied Commander Europe in charge of the upcoming invasion of Axis Europe. He and several others had hitched a ride on Hot Stuff, as he knew the pilot Capt. Robert “Shine” Shannon. Interestingly, Hot Stuff was the first 8th Air Force heavy bomber to fly 25 combat missions over Europe during WWII, completing this feat more than three months before the crew of the now far more famous B-17F Flying Fortress Memphis Belle. Hot Stuff successfully flew 31 missions before her crew were ordered home to tour the USA on a War Bonds Drive, but with her loss along with most of her crew, the Army Air Forces chose Memphis Belle to perform that honor. Interestingly, when Maxwell and his fellow passengers arranged to go home on Hot Stuff, they bumped five of the bomber’s original crew members, thus sparing their lives. Incredibly, the aircraft’s tail gunner, George Eisel, survived the crash.
To honor the loss of General Andrews and the others aboard Hot Stuff, there will be a ceremony this coming May 3rd to erect a formal memorial celebrating the men near to crash site. The accident claimed the lives of the following men…
- Capt. Robert H. “Shine” Shannon – Pilot
- Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews – Copilot
- Capt. James E. Gott – Navigator
- T/Sgt. Kenneth A. Jeffers – Radio Operator
- M/Sgt. Lloyd C. Weir – Crew Chief
- S/Sgt. Paul H. McQueen – Gunner
- Civilian Adna W. Leonard – Methodist Bishop and Chairman of the Corps of Chaplains
- Brig. Gen. Charles A. Barth – Gen. Andrews Chief of Staff
- Col. Morrow Krum – Member of Gen. Andrews Staff
- Col. Frank M. Miller – U.S. Army, Chief of Chaplains
- Lt. Col. Fred L. Chapman – U.S. Army
- Maj. Theodore C. Totman – U.S. Army
- Capt. Joseph T. Johnson – Gen. Andrews aide
Such was General Andrew’s importance to the U.S. Army Air Forces that his name lives on at several different American military installations around the globe. The most prominent of these is what is now known as Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland, home to the Air Force’s presidential aircraft fleet. Originally named Camp Springs Army Air Base, the facility first opened officially on May 2nd, 1943, the day before General Andrews’ death. It became Andrews Field on February 7th, 1945, honoring the fallen general, who is now sadly all-but-forgotten, much like Hot Stuff and her crew, who never got their chance to shine in the spotlight.
According to a recent press release, “Andrews, an advocate for a separate United States Air Force, is considered to be one of its founding fathers. He was selected above many who outranked him to organize and command the General Headquarters Air Force (GHQ Air Force), the first centralized command of what would eventual become the U.S. Army Air Force. Today’s United States Air Force is a testament to his organization and leadership skills. Gen. Andrews was the only general to command three Theaters of Operations during World War II, including the Caribbean Defense Command, U.S. Army in the Middle East Command and European Theater of Operations Command.”
The memorial ceremony this coming May 3rd hopes to revive the stories of General Andrews and the crew of Hot Stuff. According to the press release, special guests participating in the monument dedication will include Icelandic government officials, members ofthe United States Embassy, Lt.Gen. Richard Clark, Commander of 3rd Air Force, and Col. John Teichert, Commander of Joint Base Andrews.
The monument dedication will include the unveiling of a privately funded monument featuring a stainless steel model of the B-24 Hot Stuff as the centerpiece sitting above a polished black granite and basalt stone monument. The unveiling of the monument will include a fly-over of USAF and Iceland Coast Guard aircraft. Following the monument dedication, a memorial service will be held at the Andrews Theater in Keflavik, Iceland.
For further information, please contact:
1409 Thaddeus Cove
Austin, TX 78746