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2

nd
Lt. Robert H. Strongs
P-63 Kingcobra Crash
June 13, 1944
Garden Home/Metzger Ore.
2014 Garden Home History Project

Contributions from Rick Newton and Jack Steele mentioned the
crash of a fighter plane in the Garden Home/Metzger area during
WW2.

Rick Newton
A P-51 fighter plane crashed along the railroad tracks between 80
th
and Washington
Drive about a mile from the Newton place. Bill Norris and Rick picked up live
ammunition there after the wreckage was removed. It was rumored that the pilot by
the name Harris parachuted to safety before the plane crashed.
Jack Steele
Born in 1930, Jack attended Metzger grade school
for grades 1, 2, and 3 before starting at Garden
Home in grade 4.

Jack recalled the crash of a fighter plane in the
Washington Drive area of Garden Home in about
1942. They understood that the pilot had safely
parachuted out. The debris was very quickly
cleaned up by the government.

Intrigued, we sent an email out to the
Project mailing list.
Many replied with recollections of the crash 70 years earlier:

Gene Shirley
I remember that it was a King Cobra plane with the motor behind the pilot. It crashed into the railroad
bed in the area of Washington Drive where it curves, about 1944. A kid, a Doctor's son from Tigard was
stopped by the police because he was hauling away the propeller and some ammunition.

Darrell MacKay
My mother, Dorothy Mac Kay, told me that the plane was headed right towards our house when it crashed on
the Oregon Railroad right of way at the end of what is now S.W. 82ND. Court, in the 8700 block of S.W.
82ND. Ave. She said that she and I could have been killed, so I was alive at the time and I was born in
March of 1944. There was an indentation in a bank that ran along the right of way. It is just a few yards
East of Washington Drive and about half a mile down the right of way from the trestle that was near Oleson
Road. These areas were favorite play grounds for the kids in the neighborhood.

Stan Marugg
Stan recalls that there was a military plane crash in about 1940 or so. He would have been about 9 years
old. He did not see the crash but he did see the hole in the ground. He describes that he would have
turned east onto Washington Drive and gone around the corner and then turned left where it crashed near
the railroad tracks. Or else you could go up Taylors Ferry and turn onto 78th and go to the tracks. He
doesnt remember much about the talk nor anything about the pilot, felt he was too young.

Robert Feldman
I was 14 at the time. My brother and Billy Norris and Rick Newton went to see it. My brother got some
parts from it, I think it was in 1946 by the railroad.

Richard Rickson
I remember the accident. It crashed a couple of blocks from where Taylor's Ferry ended. The plane was a
single-seater plane called a Cobra. I think the pilot was killed. If my memory is correct no one was
allowed to view the site because the plane was loaded with ammunition and the authorities were afraid that
an accident was possible. I can remember those planes sweeping closely over the roofs of our houses and my
little Mom shaking her hand at them. It must have been about the summer of 1943 or 1944. The bad news is
that it crashed in the Tigard district instead of the Garden Home district. History is so fickle. :)

Dan Nebert
Correction: the pilot DID bail out and was NOT killed. Site of crash was close to where Taylor's Ferry
ends at 40th Ave.
Alta Hansen saw the
pilot under his
parachute and the
crash site wreckage.

At the time, there was
real concern about
Japanese aircraft.

(Blue tips on
ammunition indicate a
non-High Explosive
training round.)

Key details led us to
the correct accident
report:
7:00 AM time of crash
P-63 Kingcobra aircraft
type
Pilot survived
(parachuted)
Between SW Washington
Dr and SW 82
nd
Ave,
north of Taylors Ferry
Rd (between Garden Home
and Metzger)
After a few false leads, we
finally tracked down a
fairly comprehensive list
of P-63 crashes during
WW2.

Only one entry looked
promising:

Date: June 13, 1944
Aircraft: P-63 Kingcobra
Crash: 18 mi SW of Portland
AAB, OR

We ordered a copy of the
official Air Corps accident
report.




Also, just 10 days later,
it appears that Lt. Strong
survived a mid-air
collision while piloting
another P-63 near Redmond,
OR.
2
nd
Lt. Strongs account of the crash
The flight leaders
report of the crash.

Radio contact was not too
good.




As I started to turn, he
said something about his
engine cutting or
sputtering. Shortly
afterwards he said, This
is it.

He landed in some trees,
near Matzgan (sic), Point
D, and was promptly picked
up by some people who
arrived on the scene
rapidly. When he waved to
me that he was o.k., I
returned to the field and
landed.
The Aircraft Accident Committee found the likely cause was a
clogged vent line or fuel line for the left fuel tank.
The Oregonian
June 14, 1944
Page 1

a mile north of
Metzger

Lt. Strong [] said
he left the ship
when the engine
quit.
The Tigard Sentinel
June 16, 1944

The residents of Metzger
and Garden Home were
startled early Tuesday
morning by a plane crash
between the two
communities.

State police kept a crowd
of bystanders away from
the wreckage...
2
nd
Lt. Robert H. Strong

Photo provided by Robert
Strong Jr. of Florida.
The crash occurred in the general area west of SW 82
nd
Ave and
north of SW Taylors Ferry Rd along the railroad tracks (shown
in green). Portions of the railroad bed are still visible
today.
A party of researchers, eye witnesses, interested neighbors and
land owners searched for the crash site on a recent Saturday.
(above) Bob Cram, Gene Shirley and Alta Hansen.

(below) Darrell MacKay, Alta and Elaine looking
at the map.
(above) Bob, Alta and Elaine Shreve at the
likely spot near the old railroad bed.

(below) Darrell and Tom Shreve.
On March 2, 1945, 2
nd
Lt. Robert Strong was piloting a Lockheed
P-38 Lightning on a mission with seven other aircraft to attack a
rail yard in Mundersbach, Germany.

While executing a low strafing pass, his plan was hit by anti-
aircraft flak. He did not bail out before his plane crashed.

The war against Germany ended two months later on May 8, 1945.
From the official account of his final mission

Another member of Lt. Strongs 8-plane sortie also died on the
same fateful mission. 2
nd
Lt. George W. Alge was killed by the
shockwave of a bomb dropped by another plane.
While searching for a cemetery site, a field near the village of
Margraten was considered. Concerned about the fact that the land was
prime farmland, Captain J.J. Shomon said:

Listen Joe, the best soil is not good enough for our boys.
2
nd
Lt. Robert Hawkins Strong
United States Army Air Corps

Born in New York, June 24, 1918
Killed in the air over Germany, March 2
nd
, 1945
Gravesite in the American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands
In the Netherlands, they celebrate Liberation Day
with an annual concert. The final piece of the
concert is Il Silenzio (The Silence) by Nino
Rossi, a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch
and first played in 1965 on the 20
th
anniversary of
Hollands liberation.

Recently, the trumpet soloist was a 13-year-old
Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by Andre Rieu
and the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands.

Play



Thank You to all of our veterans for their service
to our country.


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