The weather was bad that day with heavy rain and think fog. Based on eyewitness reports, it is believed the pilot may have been lost due to a low ceiling of fog. To collect his bearings, he lowered the planes altitude and hit the top of the mountain ridge. The impact caused approximately six feet of the right wing to shear off. The plane continued to fly until the wing and tail broke off causing the plane to plummet into a community garden with smoke pouring out. The wreckage then cut through trees and rolled down to the other side of the ravine where it came to rest. There was nothing left of the plane except burning wreckage. All twenty-one passengers on board perished.
Several citizens in nearby Coalwood and Premier observed the plane just before the crash or as the crash was happening. Mrs. Lawrence Runyon and her niece witnessed to the accident from their back porch.
“I heard a kind of a roaring noise,” Mrs. Runyon said. “I looked up and saw a big airplane which appeared to be in trouble. The plane appeared to be in a nose-dive, then I saw what looked like a wing fall. The ship then plunged earthward.” 2
Mr. Lawrence Runyon reported that the plane looked to be in trouble, then the wing fell and the plane plummeted to the earth. He also reported that he and several other men from the area ran to the site to extinguish the flames, but to no avail.
The nearby community of Welch arranged a special tribute service to pay homage to the soldiers. Hundreds of spectators gathered to mourn on July 5, 1942 at the Norfolk and Western Railway station. Flag draped caskets lined the station platform as Rev. Dorsey led the service. R. E. L. Douglas of McDowell American Legion Post No. 8 read each fallen soldier’s name, followed by a three shot salute and taps. The caskets then boarded trains to return the soldiers to their hometowns.
The management and employees of the Premier Pocahontas Collieries Coal Company’s had the monument erected in remembrance of the twenty-one soldiers who died in this horrible plane crash. On the monument, a list of all the names of the men who were on the flight can be viewed. The location of the monument is just off Route 52 also known as Coal Heritage Rd in Premier, approximately 500 feet from the Premier Methodist Church