Monday, November 17, 2014

Military Monday: Walt Simon, the Frogs, and the Norwegian Damn Good Boys

Dad's 52-05 navigator training class at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas (from August 12, 1951, to April 11, 1952) was an international one:


His graduating class had eight French air cadets in it.  While searching for information on one of them, Pierre V. LeCointe (pictured below), I found the passenger list for this 20-year-old's arrival in New York on April 2, 1951, on board the DeGrasse out of Le Havre, France.  The other seven cadets at Ellington were also on the list, as well as 92 other young Frenchmen, all originally headed to Perrin Air Force Base near Sherman, Texas, for pilot training as part of a NATO/Allied initiative.


Dad also had one Norwegian classmate, Harald Lund.  I'm not sure which man he is in the photo below, which was from a joint class party with 52-06, which I am guessing also had a Norwegian member.  The 3530th Pilot Training Wing at nearby Bryan Air Force Base had students in its Class 52-B (graduating March 22, 1952) from Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

I found 19-year-old Harald on a passenger list for a Scandinavian Airline Systems flight from Gothenburg, Sweden, to New York City, arriving on February 27, 1951.  He, along with 30 other young Norwegian men (and one woman, probably a wife), were headed to Connally Air Force Base near Waco, Texas.


What about Walter "Walt" Simon, in the first picture?  He was born May 25, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Ernest Simon and Badette Siegel.  His home of record was Brookline, Massachusetts, and he entered the Air Force from that state.  After his service in Korea, where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, he was assigned to the 3612th Aircraft Observer Training Squadron, probably as an instructor, at Harlingen Air Force Base in Texas.  It is likely that he met his wife, Margarita Berta de Salinas, a native of  nearby Abram, Texas, while he was stationed there.  They had at least one daughter.

After his enlistment ended in February 1956, he joined the Air Force Reserves, where he rose to the rank of captain.  He also joined the Convair division of General Dynamics Corporation, then based in Fort Worth, Texas.  On April 22, 1960, Simon was serving as navigator on an acceptance check flight of a 10-million-dollar B-58 Hustler before turning it over to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah.  The supersonic jet bomber crashed into the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and Simon and pilot Ray E. Tenhoff died when they were unable to eject.  Kenneth G. Timpson, the third crew member, bailed out to safety, landing in the lake and using the raft in the survival kit tethered to him to paddle to shore.  Timpson said they were flying at about 17,000 feet and had made one run on the radar bombsight station at Salt Lake City, and were preparing to make a second run, when Tenhoff gave the verbal order to eject about 6 PM.  The cause of the crash was later determined to be "loss of flight control during normal flight due to mach/airspeed/air data system failure."  Walter Simon is buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas.


© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

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