Did you know your father while he was alive?
I had just turned 4 when my dad
Capt Carl H. Silber, USAAF, 8th Fighter Group left for overseas.
The 8th Fighter Group departed Mitchell Field on 26 January 1942.
He was a 2nd Lt then and had been called up to active duty 6
before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He graduated from the University
of Missouri in 1937 and was in ROTC at the University. He reported
to Bolling Field and then was sent to Mitchell Field and assigned
to the 8th Fighter Group. I have memories however can't say for
sure if they are real or from photos I have seen of him.
What information were you told growing up?
After my dad was reported missing aboard B-24D "Texas Terror" 41-23825 18 December 1942 over two years went by before the plane was found. I
do not remember ever being sat down and told about what happened.
My mother and grandmother always started crying when the subject
of my dad came up so I always had the feeling that this was not
something to talk about. After my mother remarried
when I was 10 this made it more difficult to discuss. I always wanted
to know more about him however school and marriage did not give
me much time to dig for more information, plus all of the records
were classified until the 1970's.
How do you get interested in searching for his plane?
It wasn't until 1992 when I was stationed
at Yokota AFB in Japan which is 5th Air Force Headquarters that I was able to do research. The 5th AF was 50 years
old in 1992 and the base newspaper started running articles on the early
day's when they were formed in Australia. I knew my dad was in Australia
and New Guinea so I contacted the 5th AF Historian and he gave me addresses
to write to for my Dad's records.
This started a 4 year experience and in 1996 I received
a copy of the crash report. I couldn't believe it, I had received
a document that gave all of the details of the plane crash. I called
the Australian Consulate and they put me in touch with a National
Park Ranger who was in charge of Hinchinbrook Island. The plane had
crashed on the side of a mountain in a bad storm and is still laying
300' below the summit. The ranger told me he had visited the crash
After hearing that I had to try and go see it. It
was a B-24D-7, first of a run of 25 made by Consolidated in San
and was nicknamed "Texas Terror". It was on it's maiden
flight to the 90th Bomb Group and my dad joined the flight in Townsville at Garbutt
Field. He was returning to his unit in New Guinea after
sent to Townsville to recover from malaria. The Texas Terror departed
Garbutt Field at 0815 hrs on 18 Dec. 42 and was one of 6 heading
to the war zone, when they were passing Cairns they ran into bad
weather and the Texas Terror was last seen heading out to sea apparently
some kind of mechanical problem. Searches began however after 30
days the plane and men were declared missing.
In 1943 two natives prospecting for tin in the upper
gullies of Mount Stralock 3,000' on Hinchinbrook Island discovered
the wreckage of the Liberator and reported their find to local authorities.
According to official records, navigational error was the cause of
the crash. The remains of the crew were removed and interned in Ipswich.
After the war, they were moved to a group grave at Ft McPherson National
Cemetery, Maxwell, Nebraska. In 1959, climbers uncovered more remains
at the crash site and a USAF party from Hawaii [CILHI] recovered
them for return to the USA. At this time a group of Ingham RAAF training
cadets decided to place a memorial at the location. A six-foot aluminum
cross was made at the RAAF Garbutt Base and erected at the crash site.
The cross bears the names of those who died in the crash.
Talk about your trip to Australia
In late July 1997 I flew to Australia
from Korea and attempted to climb up to the site. I hired a guide
who took me out to Hinchinbrook by boat and climbed by myself
up a creek for 4 1/2 hrs. The jungle makes it impossible to climb
so the creek is the only way up the mountain, it had rained for
3 days prior to my climb and the creek was running very high with
water. I made a wrong turn at a fork and it was not possible to
cross back over to the other side, so I had to give up and head
back down to the shore for a 5pm pickup. This was one of the hardest
things I have ever had to do, maybe next trip I will try again
with a guide.
When I got back to Lucinda Capt Felix Reitano
greeted me and that evening took me to the RSL Club, same as our
VFW for a dinner with the Mayor and RSL members. They told me
I was the first relative to ever show up and had been talking
of making a Memorial in Town to honor the Americans. I think my
visit was the spark needed to get the memorial going.
Tell about the Texas Terror Memorial
On 25 April 1999 the Texas Terror Memorial was
dedicated in Ingham. One other relative Mr. C.W. Hooper, brother
of Lt Dewey Hooper, co-pilot attended. Also in attendance from
the USAF Gen Lawrence Stevenson, 5th AF Vice Commander, Capt Honchul,
5th AF/PA, Col Steve Sergeant, 8th Fighter Wing Commander, Lt
Col Lynnann Merton Robinson, Asst Air Attache, Lt Col Richard
Jackson, Asst Air Attache, Mr Thomas Hasepe, Asst to 5th AF Vice
Commander. A flight was made to the crash site of the Texas
Terror on Hinchinbrook Island in an Army helicopter to drop wreaths
over the site of the crashed bomber. Seated left to right in the
helicopter are Carl H. Silber Jr, C.W. Hooper and Brig Gen Lawrence
Speak about the return of Silber's Dog Tag
While in Australia for the memorial dedication
Mr. Pat Kenny who lives in Townsville saw me on the evening news
and called to say he wanted to present me with something. I was
taken to Mr. Kenny's home and he gave me one of my dad's dog tags
that he had found at the crash site in a climb in 1972. I wore
my dad's dog tag around my neck on the way back home to California
and feel like I have brought a part of him home with me after
all of these years.