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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Ralph Hugh King, Captain, USAF (Fallen)May 19, 1925 – August 19, 1952
Sugar Grove Native Dies in Helicopter Crash –
Capt. Ralph A. King, a native of Sugar Grove, died August 19 at San Marcos Air Force Base, Tex. when the new Sikorsky H-19 helicopter he was piloting plummeted to earth. With over 500 hours logged as a helicopter pilot, Capt. King was powerless to save himself or a trainee when the rear rotor sheared from the aircraft, and it plunged to the ground and burned.
Funeral was held from the Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church, Baltimore, August 25, with the Rev. J. R. Shumate of Sugar Grove in charge. A military burial followed in Baltimore National Cemetery.
Surviving are his widow, the former Miss Edmonia Allen; a one-year old daughter Sandra Lynn; his parents; and five brothers, who reside in Baltimore. Ralph King was born May 19, 1925, and raised in Sugar Grove, where he graduated as valedictorian from Sugar Grove High School in 1942.
He then was employed by the Glenn L. Martin aircraft plant in Baltimore where he worked one year with his brother in experimental work before enlisting with the U.S. Air Force in 1943. Graduating as a multi-engine pilot in 1945, Ralph completed the first Air Force school in helicopter flying in 1946. He then was assigned to do rescue work with the 10th Rescue (unreadable) on Aleutian Island (unreadable). When he returned to the United States he was assigned to the Military Flight Service, and Air Defense Command, prior to his last assignment in Texas.
Just last month, Capt. King received two special citations from the commanding general for his outstanding work in helicopter rescue and instruction accomplishments. He had volunteered for duty in Korea, and was waiting assignment when he was killed. Capt. King had flown a little over 100 hours in the new H-19 helicopter, the type in which he lunged to his death. Just days before the accident, he had checked out one of Howard Hughes’ test pilots on the plane, designed to carry six litter patients in combat area evacuation work. The trainee who died with him was 1st Lt. Vernon Armstrong.
H-19A #51-3876San Marcos, TX.19 August 1952
Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, TX.)Wednesday, August 20, 1952, page 3
Two Men Killed In Copter Crash
San Marcos, Aug. 20 — (AP) Two men killed Tuesday in the flaming crash of a six-place Air Force helicopter have been identified. They were Capt. Ralph H. King, 27, of San Marcos AFB, instructor, and First Lt. Verne Armstrong, student, on temporary duty at San Marcos AFB. King is survived by his widow who lives at San Marcos and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William E. King, Baltimore, Md. Armstrong, whose regular station was Dover, Del., AFB, is survived by his widow and five children, all living at San Marcos. The ‘copter crashed 15 miles north of here Tuesday. A witness said the craft fell to earth and burned after its rear propeller tore loose in flight.
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