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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

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Conder, George (P2, C2, L2)

george_conderCaptain George Conder, 31, of Jefferson County, Kentucky, perished on 14 July 1951 while on federal active duty during the Korean War with his Kentucky Air National Guard unit, the 165th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. Conder, stationed with his unit at Godman Army Air Field, Fort Knox, died in a mid-air collision while piloting his F-51D (44-73336) approximately one mile east north east of West Point, Kentucky during a massive flight demonstration near Fort Knox.

The pilot of the other aircraft, West Virginia Air National Guardsman First Lieutenant Clarence G. Combs of Parkersburg, West Virginia of the 167th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (F-51D 44-73281) also perished in the incident.

The two planes had taken off from Godman in a 20-plane formation.

Conder served with the Army Air Corps during World War II with some 62 combat missions in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and was stationed at both the New Hebrides and Guadalcanal. His World War II awards and decorations include Air Medal with 4 clusters.

Conder began his training at Maxwell Field, Alabama in January 1942. He was promoted to Major by the time he left active duty at Scott Field, Illinois in December 1946. He remained in Reserve Service as a Major at Godman field until March 1948.

Conder joined the Kentucky Air National Guard on 21 August 1949 as a First Lieutenant. At that time he reported as being self employed as a farmer and a money order agent for American Express Co. and having more than 1,700 flight hours in the previous 60 months.

Conder is buried in Louisville’s Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at Section F, Site 205.

Two Fliers Are Killed In Collision
Louisvillian Dies In Plane Crash Near West Point
The Courier-Journal, Louisville 15 Jul 1951, Page 1
Two fighter-bomber pilots from Godman Air Force Base, Fort Knox, were killed in a midair collision hear West Point, Ky., yesterday. One was a Louisvillian.
Parts of the F-51 planes were recovered from a mile-square area near the West Point Airport. One plane crashed into a cornfield just east of the airport, the other atop a nearby hill.
The pilots were Capt. George Conder, 34, of 1236 Helck, and First Lt. Clarence G. Combs, 28, Parkersburg, W. Va.
Combs’ body was recovered from the cornfield wreckage shortly after the accident occurred about 11:30 a.m.
Neither Plane Explodes
Conder’s body was found 6 hours later in wreckage in a heavily wooded area about half a mile away.
Neither plane exploded or burst into flames. A wing and one wheel of Conder’s plane were found at the bottom of a hill about a half mile from the rest of the plane. Combs’ plane crashed on the Clay Mercer farm. More than 100 Army and Air Force personnel from Fort Knox, plus State and County police, searched through thick underbrush for Conder’s plane. It was spotted by an Army pilot in a small liaison plane.
A thick haze was reported to have been hanging over areas in the vicinity of the accident. Observers said the weather was so murky that “some of the planes lost each other on the take-off.”
Haze Discounted as Cause
Godman investigating officers, however, discounted haze as the cause of the accident. They believed that one of the pilots may have run out of gas in one tank, and may have run into the other plane while trying to switch to another tank.
A statement released by Godman authorities last night said:
“Officials at Godman Air Force Base are conducting an investigation as to the cause of the accident, but current evidence indicates low visibility and fog were not the cause. Reports from Godman show that though there was poor visibility in some areas near the field, the area where the planes were circling at the time of the accident was clear.
Twenty Planes in Formation
“Belief now is that one pilot may have run out of gas in one tank, causing the engine of his plane to go dead momentarily and resulting in making a violent maneuver in formation and thereby bringing the two planes together.”
C-47 Appears Below
The two planes had taken off from Godman in a 20-plane formation of former Kentucky-West Virginia Air Guardsmen. They were part of the 123d Fighter-Bomber Wing, which became a federal unit in October.
The planes were flying wingtip to wingtip at about 3,000 feet, on the way to an aerial review over Fort Knox.
Other Air Force pilots in the formation reported somebody called “Look out for the 47,” as a C-47 type plane appeared below the group. Then the Conder and Combs planes collided.
Taylor E. Huff, manager of Consolidated Flaying Services, West Point, heard the crash, and saw the planes fall. “My estimate is that they hit an updraft from these hills,” he said. Fliers using his airport are careful to avoid sharp updrafts around the point of nearby hills.
Conder Attended U. of L.
Conder was a World War II veteran with 62 combat missions in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. He flew p-40’s and P-38’s in the last war. Fellow fliers described him as “a quiet and steady flier.”
A native of Louisville, he attended high school at Scottsburg, Ind., And the University of Louisville.
Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Doris Marie Conder; a daughter, Elisabeth Ann, 14 months; a step-son, William B. Torsch, 6; his mother, Mrs. Myrtle B. Shyrock, Underwood, Ind.; two stepbrothers, Wendell Shryrock, Underwood, and John Shyrock, of Florida; four stepsisters, Mrs. Thelma Tabor, Anderson, Ind.; Mrs. Elsie Comer, Underwood, and Mrs. Mae Hickman and Mrs. Virginia Hogan; two sisters, Mrs. Judith Baner and Mrs. Myrtle Lee Parnell, and three brothers Joseph Morris Conder, Underwood, and Marion K. Conder and Henry W. Conder.
Combs, who served in the Air Force in World War II, had been recalled to active duty in May. He is survived by his wife and two children, 1 and 3.

conder photo from clipping 1

Rites for Victim of Midair Crash To Be Tomorrow
The Courier-Journal, Louisville 16 Jul 1951, Page 6
The funeral for Capt. George Conder, 31, Air Force pilot killed Saturday in a midair collision near West Point, KY., will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Arch L. Hedy Funeral Home. Military services will be in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
Conder, of 1236 Helck, was a member of the 123d Fighter-Bomber Wing at Godman Air Force Base, Fort Knox. His F-51 collided with another flown by First Lt. Clarence G. Combs, 28, Parkersburg, W. Va. Combs also was killed. Survivors include his step-father, T. B. Shryock.

Planes Collide: 2 Air Force Fliers Killed
The Star Press, Muncie, IN 15 Jul 1951 Page 1
Fort Knox, Ky., July 14 (AP) – Two Air Force pilots were killed hear here today when the fighter-bombers they were flying collided and crashed to the ground.
The dead were Capt. George Conder, 34, Louisville, and First Lt. Clarence G. Combs, 28, Parkersburg, W. Va.
Parts of the planes were scattered over a mile-square area near the airport at West Point, Ky. One was in a nearby cornfield; the other on top of a hill.
More than 100 Army personnel from Godman Field, Fort Knox, aided by state and county police, searched for hours before Conder’s plane and body were found. Combs’ body and plane were found early in the search.
Conder is survived by his widow, Mrs. Doris Marie Conder; a daughter, Elizabeth Ann, 14 months old; a stepson, William B. Torsch, and mother, Mrs. Myrtle B. Shyrock, Underwood, Ind.
Combs an Air Force veteran of World War II, is survived by a widow and two small children.

The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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