James N. Crouch Jr. (1953/06/18)
A "Flying Box Car" ended James' eight-day leave in Japan, his tour in Korea and his life.
James N. Crouch Jr. was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. James N. Crouch, who were natives of the Aromas area of the Pajaro Valley. He was born in Santa Cruz County on September 18, 1930, and attended elementary school in Aromas and high school in Salinas, California. After leaving school, he worked in the area and married Sally Milner of Manteca, California.
James Crouch was inducted into the US Army on February 29, 1952, and sent to army training facilities for basic and advanced instruction. In August he was shipped to Korea and Sally moved into the home of her in-laws on the San Miguel Canyon Road near Watsonville. Upon arrival in Korea, Private First Class Crouch was assigned as a cook in Company C of the 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion. The 802nd was an army unit attached to the US Air Force to enlarge and expand Korean airfields.
In June 1953 Crouch received an eight-day leave in Japan. At the conclusion of his leave he boarded a C-124A Globe- master Transport at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan for his return flight to Korea. Shortly after takeoff on June 18, the plane developed engine trouble and crashed into a rice field killing Private First Class Crouch and the other 128 passengers. Newspaper accounts noted, "Most of the victims were still strapped to their seats indicating they were either stunned or killed by the crash impact."
The remains of James Crouch were returned to Watsonville and following a service conducted by the local VFW post, were interred in the Hambey Cemetery near Aromas.
(CBR; ABMC; Sarge USA.com, 802nd Engineer Aviation Construction Battalion http://www.sargeusa.com/pennyshort/
main-roots.htm, [16 September 2008]; WRP June 18, 1953 1:8, June 20, 1953 1:3, September 19, 1953 2:5)