Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Mohawk Flight 40. It was a passenger airplane that took off from Elmira Corning Regional Airport on June 23, 1967 and headed towards Washington D.C. but crashed soon after departure about 40 miles away in Blossburg, Pennsylvania.
All 34 passengers on board were killed. Despite this, no physical marker currently stands anywhere to commemorate those victims, but dozens of people gathered in Blossburg on Friday to change that and memorialize their loved ones.
Roger Tracey, a man with no ties to the accident, is coordinating stone monument efforts for the families.
“They’ve been yearning for this information for 50 years, and they want to know what’s out there,” Tracey said. “They’ve never had any place to come to, to share, or anything, and hopefully when this is done and the stone is in place, they can visit on their own.”
Families of victims, Blossburg residents, and members of law enforcement gathered in Island Park, where the stone will be placed, Friday afternoon to remember those who are no longer with us.
A moment of silence was held then the names of the victims were announced one by one.
It’s been said that many residents actually saw the plane descending while in the park with their children.
The stone will display a brief description of what happened with all the names of the victims, and it’ll face east in the direction where the crash occurred.
The full cost of the marker will be $7,000. So far, $3,000 has been raised thanks to Ward Manufacturing. Through donors, it’s hoped to be fully funded and standing by the fall.
As for the day, it comes in the form of closure for Donald Branson, who lost his father in the crash while his mother was five months pregnant with him. His parents were newlyweds not even married for a year.
“It kind of defined my life for a long time,” Branson said. “I was very bitter about it and thought, ‘Why me?’ I never thought anyone cared. I never thought anyone remembered. I almost didn’t come up here. I’m so glad I came.”
If you’d like to read more about Flight 40 and the reason linked to its crash, click here.