#21 in a series
2nd. Lt. Patrick D. Holland, Spokane, WA
By Paul A. Roales
I have a copy of the class book for Class 44-A AAF Basic Flying School at Pecos, Texas in which over 70 of the cadets have autographed their pictures. Reviewing the signed pictures I came across Patrick D Holland of Spokane Washington (see illustration below left). His story is unique and worth retelling.
Patrick Daniel Holland was born in Seattle, WA on Dec. 15, 1919 to Daniel Patrick Holland and Anna G. Bronton Holland. The family soon moved to Spokane where Patrick attended grade school and high school. After graduation from High School he worked several jobs and was working as a clerk for Washington Water & Power Co.in Spokane, Washington when he enlisted in the Army. He married June Elizabeth Sailand in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on Dec. 31, 1941.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 29, 1942. He took Primary Flight School at Hemet, CA and Basic Flight School at Pecos, TX. He graduated Advanced flight school at La Junta, Colorado on Jan. 7, 1944, was assigned serial number O-764997, and commissioned a 2nd. Lt. He was assigned to the 3031st. AAF Base Unit in the AAF Training Command at Mather Field, CA for further training in a B-25 bomber.
On August 19, 1944 he was flying as co-pilot of a B-25 taking part in a training exercise at Luke Field, Arizona. 1st. Lt. George Hunter was his pilot. As part of their exercise they were taking part in the filming of Warner Brother's movie "God Is My Co-Pilot".
According to the AAF Accident Report: "At 1505 MWT, 2Lt. Orland L. Luhr, pilot of AT-6C, airplane number 41-32833, and 1Lt. George Hunter, pilot of TB-25C airplane, number 42-32383, were flying in two separate formations for the picture "God is My Co-Pilot". The formation of B-25's was heading north at approximately 10,000 feet indicated. The formation of AT-6s was flying at approximately 12,000 feet, heading south. The AT-6s, which were depicting Zeros in the picture, were to dive down ahead of the B-25 formation and pull up, making a pass at the bombers from ahead and below. The pilots had been thoroughly briefed on the exact positions--both the bombers and the AT-6's--and at no time were to come closer than 300 feet vertically. Lt. Luhr was flying on the left wing of the second element of the AT-6's. As this element made its pass on the B-25's, Lt. Luhr failed to follow his element leader and passed on into the formation of B-25's, striking the right wing of airplane number 42-32383 with the right wing of his airplane.
The collision occurred at approximately 9,500 indicated. The AT-6 rolled on left and down into a slow spiral then headed almost straight for the ground. The pilot in one of the other AT-6's followed the airplane down and noticed that the canopy was open approximately four inches but there was no attempt made by Lt. Luhr to bail out. After the collision, the B-25 number 42-32383 kept going in almost level flight for a few seconds and then stalled off on the right wing, heading straight down and exploding upon contact with the ground."
Responsibility for the accident is placed 100 per cent upon pilot error on the part of Lt. Luhr, pilot of AT-6, number 41-32833, in that he failed to follow instructions in the simulated attack on the B-25's." [End of Accidernt Report statement].
The accident occured about 30 miles north of Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona, kiling four army fliers. Killed in the crash of the TB-25C were: 1Lt. George Hunter, pilot; 2Lt. Patrick D. Holland, co-pilot; Sgt. James A. Ramey, passenger. 2nd. Lt. Orland Luhr was killed in the AT-6C. At the time of his death Lt. Holland had a total of 531:35 hours of flying time with 316:45 hours in B-25's.
June E. Holland, Lt. Holland's wife, was awarded his $10,000 government insurance policy payment and a pension of about $60 per month. On April 16, 1945 she was awarded an additional $10,000 in damages for his death from Warner Brothers who made the movie. $10,000 in 1945 is equivalent to about $132,000 in 2015 money.
Lt. Holland's wife was pregnant with their first child when he was killed. In November 1944 their daughter Patricia was born. Her father had died before she was born. As of 2015 Patricia Holland was alive and well and I exchanged emails with her.
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