The inscription on the back of this photograph says, “The man in the black suit on the prince’s right is the American Consul George Henderson who was killed in the crash of PAA at Shannon four days later.” That crash occurred on 15 April 1948, so according to the inscription this photograph was taken on 11 April 1948. Also pictured are ARAMCO vice presidents Fred Davies and Floyd Ohliger.
George Dailey Henderson had recently been appointed Consul General in Dhahran. He graduated from Stanford in 1938 with a BA in political science and joined the foreign service the next year. Before Dhahran he served in Mexico, Paraguay, Albania, and Italy.
Henderson, his wife Agnes Lengyel Henderson, and their 13-month-old son Bruce Kirk Henderson all perished when their Pan American Airlines “Empress of the Skies” crashed and burned while making a second attempt to land at Shannon Airport in Ireland. The Hendersons were making their way to the U.S. for four months of home leave; they had not had leave in their nine years abroad as a diplomatic family. Altogether 30 people died, including 19 Americans and Sir Homi Metha, an Indian industrialist. Marc Worst, a Lockheed employee from California who was posted at Shannon Airport, was the only survivor.
Here is a piece about the crash by Lorcan Clancy which was broadcast on The History Show on RTÉ Radio 1. Below is a report on the accident from the American Consulate, Limerick.
The article below causes me to doubt Vic’s recollection of the date the photograph was taken because it describes the prince’s trip has having occurred a little earlier. [The photograph accompanying the article is obviously not the prince, but what reader in 1948 would have known the difference?]
Among the dozens of photographs associated with the prince’s visit were the following four. Two show the prince’s arrival and the fourth shows the cars with huge tires described in the above article.
The writing in the above photograph is the end of the Arabic spelling of ARAMCO.
Victor Joseph Crepeau (1922-2007) enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps 1941 after graduating from Mt Carmel High School and attending college for one year. When he enlisted his “civil occupation” was in the “Actors and actresses” category. [The photograph below carries the U.S. Army Signal Corps watermark because the Signal Corps took the photograph.] Someone wrote “Vic” on the back of one of the photographs of him, so I’ll call him by that name.
Vic survived a crash landing on 2 February 1944 when the B-24J he and a crew were ferrying crashed near Barnstaple, North Devon, England. They got lost in bad weather and ran low on fuel. Vic, a 2nd lieutenant, was the co-pilot. The pilot, 1st Lt Edward M. Coverdill, and navigator, Sgt George R. Kiefer, also survived. Six other crew members were killed. Vic commanded 50 Airlift Squadron from Aug 1961 to Jan 1963. In May 1968 Maj Gen Ernest Hardin, deputy chief of staff for operations, Tactical Air Command, presented Vic with the Bronze Star Medal for “meritorious service against Viet Cong forces” and the Air Medal for “outstanding airmanship and courage on successful missions under extremely hazardous conditions”. Vic retired from the USAF as a lieutenant colonel (O-5) in 1970. When he died Vic was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
Vic spent a lot of time at what is now King Abdulaziz Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Most of the photographs I’ll be posting in the coming weeks were made while he was operating out of that location. Before 1945 it was called Dhahran Airfield as shown in the below photograph of some presumably airfield employees.
The USAF operated the airfield from 1945 until 1962. They put the new name on a new sign.
Here is Vic with two unidentified colleagues. They are wearing Air Transport Command patcheswhich dates this photograph to pre-1 June 1948. Vic and the officer to his left wear pilots wings over their left breast pockets.
I presume the below photographs show Vic in his office at the airfield.
Judging by the style of Arabic script, the below photograph was taken in Iran or Pakistan. The logo to Vic’s left is that of Phillips. The words in Arabic script below the logo spell out “Phillips Radio” in English, a name which was used by the company in the 1910’s. I suspect the interesting thing about the photo was the Arabic script and the Phillips logo.
The next three photographs below were taken in Iran. The first one has “Teheran Hotel” written on the back and the other two have “Teheran” written on the back. The movie “White Cargo” came out in the U.S. in 1942.
The next four were taken in Pakistan and have “Karachi” written on the back, the first one has the additional identification, “Main Street”.
Vic was deployed to, or stationed in Asmara, Eritrea. The reason I suspect he might have been stationed there is that many of his Asmara photos have a stamp on the back indicating the photos were developed there. In this first photo he is a captain (O-3).
The following two photographs possibly depict Kagnew Station, though I was unable to prove so. One of them has the Asmara stamp on the back.
A couple of other photos were quite interesting. Here is on of Vic and three U.S. Army enlisted men. I think they are posing with a C-47. “CBI” on the door stands for China-Burma-India, connecting this aircraft to the India-China Division of the Air Transport Command. All these factors would date this photo between 1942-1946.
I was unable to further identify the symbol .
The following photograph has the Asmara stamp on the back (Foto Stampe Voghti, Asmara), along with Vic’s helpful commentary: Some of our civilian help being taken to Asmara in one of our aircraft. As you can see our planes are not “plush”. This appears to be a C-47.
Finally, the following photograph shows an aircraft with the tail number visible: 49135. According to online records, tail number 49135 was a C-57. There was no further information on the aircraft. UPDATE, 2 June 2016: Tony Cassidy, an Irish historian who wrote “From a Rock to a Hard Place” about the crash which killed U. S. Consul General George Dailey Henderson, informed as follows: 44-9135 (tail # displayed as 49135) was a late-model Douglas C-54E-15-50 construction # 27360 delivered 23 May 1945 to the USAAF and nothing more was known (until your photographs show it to have gone to Air Transport Command).