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Texas | Columns

AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY
FROM THE WORLD WAR II YEARS

by Robert G. Cowser
While walking across our pasture near Saltillo one rainy afternoon in 1944, my father noticed a steel bar standing askew in the damp soil. When he pulled it from the ground, he could read numbers inscribed on one side of the bar. Taking the bar with him, he walked north, soon spotting a scrap of isinglass. When he brought the items into the house, he said, “These are parts of a plane. Since tomorrow is Sunday, we’ll have time to make a search.”

My brother, who was ten, and I were excited and could hardly wait until the noon meal was over the next day so that we could look for other parts of the plane. None of us believed the plane had crashed anywhere nearby because we had not heard an explosion nor had we seen smoke. In my mind, however, there was a possibility that one of the fighter planes from the Army Air Corps base in Greenville had crashed, perhaps a few miles away.

My brother and I were fascinated by the fighter planes we had seen in the movies and in magazines. Each time we mailed off a dime with a Wheaties box top, we would receive either a model of a German Messerschmitts plane or of a British Spitfire.

That afternoon we found no hull of a plane, but we did find other fragments of steel bars imbedded in the damp earth. They resembled parts of the cockpit of a small plane. The parts had been painted a dark green. The road from our house to the highway was impassable, as it often was in the winter, because of slippery conditions brought about by heavy rains. We had no phone, so my father could not call anyone to report our find. A few days later when the dirt road was navigable, drove to Highway 67 and then to Sulphur Springs. He took the scraps of isinglass and the steel bars to the office of the weekly newspaper, the Hopkins County Echo. The paper printed an account of our findings with the headline “Parts of Plane Found on Farm Near Saltillo.”

One sunny day the following week a low-flying Army plane flew over our house, making several passes over our pasture and the surrounding woods. After a few minutes, the plane left. We never learned where the mysterious parts came from.



© Robert G. Cowser
June 18, 2010 Guest Column
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