WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act that expresses a commitment by the Senate to the importance of relocating a small memorial to Arlington National Cemetery to honor 40 members of the United States Armed Forces who lost their lives in a plane crash in Bakers Creek, Australia during World War II.
“The amendment before the Senate today would seek to provide a lasting tribute to the bravery and dedication of these young American men. In particular, I wish to pay tribute to six Pennsylvanians who lost their lives,” said Casey. “Now is the time to mark their sacrifices with the proper level of respect and reverence.”
“I am pleased to join in this effort to recognize the forty American soldiers who tragically perished at Bakers Creek.” Specter said. “A memorial at Arlington National Cemetery will honor the memory of the fallen heroes, help to bring closure to their families, and let generations to come know of their contributions to our nation.”
The amendment proposed by Senators Casey and Specter seeks to relocate a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in honor of 40 servicemen who died in a plane crash on June 14, 1943. The memorial is currently located on the grounds of the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, which is considered foreign soil.
Thirty-five servicemen and six crew members were aboard a plane traveling from Mackay in Queensland, Australia to battlefields in New Guinea during World War II. Shortly after taking off, the plane crashed, killing all but one person onboard. Due to the sensitivity of their mission, details of the crash were left unreported and remained so for 15 years after the end of the war. The accident remains the deadliest plane crash in Australian history and the worst single airplane crash in the Southwest Pacific during WWII. June 14th, 2008 will mark the 65th anniversary of this tragedy.
To date, the Bakers Creek Memorial Association has located the families of 38 of the 40 casualties and the group continues to search for the families of the remaining two. Pennsylvania is still home to six of the known families, which is more than any other state.
Similar language is already included in the House version of the FY 2008 DOD Authorization bill.