Submitted by: Richard Vittorioso
On October 19, 1944 two young Navy pilots embarked on a mission to test newly developed radar for the U.S. Navy which would help in the war effort for pilots flying Hellcat planes during WWII. They took off from a base in Charlestown, Rhode Island shortly before 11PM into the dark night skies and began testing the new radar system while over the town of Preston, Connecticut. The tests consisted of taking intercepts with one another to see how close they could come to each other while observing the radar blips on their screens. Around 11pm all contact was lost from the command post back in Rhode Island nor could a base in New London, Connecticut pick up any transmissions or signals from either plane. Tragically it was discovered that the planes had collided in mid-air sending both pilots to their deaths in the wooded area below the skies of Preston. The Navy recovered what was left of both planes, the bodies of both pilots, and then bulldozed the remaining plane parts into the ground. For over 70 years that was it. Until in 2015 the Norwich Connecticut Area Veterans Council decided to honor the memory of both pilots by establishing a temporary memorial on the Preston Library Grounds. Later an effort by the Veterans Council to erect a permanent memorial was undertaken and in October 2106 a permanent memorial bench was dedicated as the result of donations by residents, family members of both pilots, and royalties from the book by author Richard Vittorioso entitled "Forgotten." To this day a huge section of the landing gear still remains in place at the crash site. The entire story brings back the events of that night, the lives of both pilots and many interesting facts never before revealed.
About the author:
Richard L. Vittorioso resides in Preston, Connecticut and is a retired broadcaster. His interest in writing this book was sparked by the fact that no one, including himself had ever heard of a plane crash in Preston, Ct. that occurred in 1944. Foremost, that both pilots had been forgotten for over 70 years.He is also a humorist with a blog on current events. The book "Forgotten" is available at Amazon.com by entering the author's name and book title.