Anthony Iacovitti and Family

Tributes~Anthony Iacovitti and Family

Anthony Iacovitti and Family
Download PDF

Date of Birth: 
Date of Death: 
November 28 1952

On November 28, 1952, Anthony Iacovitti, his wife Dorothy Barber and three of their children: Anthony Jr, age six, Barbara Marie age three, and John Allen age three months died in a plane crash of an air froces Globemaster transport near Tocoma, Washington with 32 other servicemen and their families. The plane was enroute to a base in Massachusetts, following two years active duty in Alaska. Their eight year old son Joseph survived but was in fair condition after the crash, being treated in a hospital near the scene of the crash.

The Icovitti's lived in Kissimmee for several years following World War II, in which the lieutenant served. Lt. Iacovitti was born in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania and his wife, Dorothy Barber was born in Sanford, Florida.

The bodies of the five Iacovitti family members were returned to Kissimmee, Florida in December. A rosary was said for the family at Grissoom Funeral Home Chapel and a requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. Dunleavy at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kissimmee. The family was interred in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.

Additional information can be found: Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 8, 1952, p. 13.

This file made possible by: The State of Washington, Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
HistoryLink File #8803 Used with permission.

U.S. Air Force C-54G Skymaster crashes in Tacoma, killing 37 people, on November 28, 1952.

On November 28, 1952, a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-54G Skymaster, en route from Fairbanks, Alaska, carrying 39 people, crashes in South Tacoma while attempting to land in thick fog at McChord Air Force Base. The pilot decides to abort a ground-controlled approach to the runway and divert to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. The aircraft, however, strikes the tops of two tall fir trees, crashes into a field and bursts into flames, killing 37 persons. A young airman and an 8-year-old boy, who lost five family members in the mishap, are the only survivors.

The Crash
On Friday, November 28, 1952, an Air Force C-54G, assigned to the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), 1701st Air Transport Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB), Great Falls, Montana, was inbound from Ladd AFB, Fairbanks, Alaska, carrying 32 American servicemen and their dependents, and a crew of seven. At 12:30 a.m., the pilot, Captain Albert J. Fenton, radioed the McChord air traffic control tower for field conditions and was informed that visibility was approximately three-quarters of a mile. Captain Fenton was directed to execute a wide left-hand turn and descend for a ground-controlled landing from the south. As the aircraft neared the field, a thick fog bank, rising 300 feet high, suddenly developed, reducing visibility to near zero. At 12:48 a.m., Captain Fenton, now on final approach, decided to abort the landing and radioed the control tower that he was proceeding to Malmstrom AFB instead. Minutes later, witnesses telephoned the control tower and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to report a downed aircraft.

The Skymaster crashed into an open field (now Wards Lake Park) approximately one mile north of McChord AFB and one-half mile east of S Tacoma Way between S 84th and S 88th Streets in the unincorporated community of Lakewood. It barely missed the Edgewood Park apartments, 35 four-family units built to ease the military’s housing shortage during the Korean War (1950-1953), and other nearby homes.
Several people who saw the accident said the Skymaster was on fire before it crashed. Upon impact, the aircraft broke in two and exploded into flames. Bodies, personal belongings, packages and luggage were scattered around the crash scene for 200 yards. Most of the fire was in the forward section of the fuselage, the tail and aft section remaining almost intact. Some witnesses said they could hear the cries of people caught in the burning wreckage, but were helpless to render assistance.

Meanwhile, fire and rescue teams from McChord AFB, Lakewood, and Tacoma rushed to the crash site and extinguished the fires in the fuselage and scattered debris. Using magnesium flares and flashlights, police and sheriff’s officers, firemen, and military personnel searched the smoldering, twisted wreckage, looking for victims. Of the 39 people aboard the C-54G, they found only three survivors: Airman Bobby R. Wilson, age 20, a member of the plane’s crew, Airman Curtis Redd, age 23, and Joseph M. Iacovitti, age 8, both passengers.

Wilson, who had third-degree burns, internal injuries, and multiple skull fractures, died at Pierce County Hospital on Saturday, November 29. Redd was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma in critical conditions with third-degree burns, but survived. Iacovitti was taken to Pierce County Hospital in serious condition with burns, broken legs and a fractured neck. He lived through the ordeal, but his parents, two brothers, and a sister died in the mishap, leaving him an orphan and the only surviving member of his family. Three other families were wiped out entirely.

The Investigation
The Air Force Board of Inquiry determined that as Captain Fenton was on final approach to land at McChord AFB, he boosted power to regain altitude, but the Skymaster’s number three engine failed. In the thick fog, the pilot was unable to see, much less avoid, a line of towering fir trees immediately north of the base. The aircraft sheared off the tops of two 100-foot tall Douglas firs, slammed into an open field and exploded into flames.

The Tonawanda News, February 1953. Used with permission.
Boy Who Lost Family in Crash of C-54, Comes Home.

They all tried to make the “homecoming” as happy as possible for little Joe. His grandmother and an aunt and uncle were at the station when his train pulled in this morning on the last lap of a heartbreaking journey home from Alaska. They had a room at home all fixed up and waiting for him.

But 8-year-old Joe Iacovitti didn’t say much. The best he could manage was a half smile. Joe is the sole survivor of a family of six in the flaming crash of a C-54 transport plane at Tacoma, Washington, last November 28. Only three persons lived to tell of the crash which took 36 lives.

Joe’s father, 1st Lt. Anthony Iacovitti, 32; his mother, Dorothy, 31; brothers Anthony Jr., 4, and John, six months, and his sister, Barbara, 3, were killed. Joe was pulled from the wreckage with a broken neck, a broken right leg, and multiple severe burns. But he lived. After long weeks of painful treatment at a Tacoma hospital, doctors released him last week. His aunt, Helen Iacovitti, stayed with him during the painful hospital ordeal and rode home with him today. She said Joe seemed interested in the trip, but spoke very little during the long ride.

He didn’t say anything when the porters lifted him from the train at North Philadelphia Station and placed him in a wheelchair. He looked very small and almost dazed. Bandages covered his forehead. His grandmother and other relatives couldn’t get to him at first because of the crowd of photographers who joked with the little boy and told him he was “getting more attention than a movie star”. Joe just smiled.

He was still smiling slightly when the crew of a Navy ambulance placed him on a stretcher and drove him off to Valley Forge Army Hospital for a “check-up”. Then Joe will go to his grandparents’ home at nearby Bridgeport, Pennsylvania to begin a new life. His grandmother, Mrs. Loretta Iacovitti, says she has his room all ready with new furniture. They hope he’ll like it.

The plane crash occurred while the boy and his family were en route home to Bridgeport from Fairbanks, Alaska for a Christmas reunion with other members of the family who had never seen the baby, born in Alaska. Lieutenant Iacovitti, a veteran of 11 years in the Air Force, had been stationed in Fairbanks for two years as a radio observer. He was to have been re-assigned to a base near Boston, Massachusetts.

Media data: 
Place of Birth: 
Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Death: 
Tocoma, Washington, United States
Primary State of Residence: 
Florida, United States

Comments (6)

The rest of the story.
Joseph Michael survived and went on to marry. He died in 2006. This is his obituary from the Pottsville, Pennsylvania newspaper the "Republican," Feb. 25, 2006Joseph M. Iacovitti, 61, of 321 S. Lehigh Ave., Frackville, died Thursday at Seton Manor, Orwigsburg. Born in Fresno, Calif., Oct. 17, 1944, he was a son of the late Anthony and Dorothy Barber Iacovitti. He was the owner of the Black Diamond Bar & Restaurant, Frackville. He was of the Catholic faith and a member of the American Bar Association. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Anthony "Buddy" Iacovitti and John Iacovitti; a sister, Barbara Iacovitti. He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Teresa Keys Iacovitti; three daughters, Michele Perainno, Wenonah, N.J., Daniele Newman, Pawtucket, R.I., Joele Gerhard, Ephrata; a son, Anthony Iacovitti, Pottsville; eight grandchildren. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday from Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, 7 Broad Mountain Ave., Frackville. Friends may call from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in Odd Fellows Cemetery, West Mahanoy Township. Nice-Hart Funeral Home Inc., Frackville, is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Huntington Disease Society of America, 525 Plymouth Road, Suite 314, Plymouth Meeting, PA.

Thank you for this information. My father was Joseph M. Iacovitti. I am the oldest of his 4 children by Rosemary Willans, his first wife. My sisters are Daniele Newman and Joele Gerhard. My brother is Anthony Iacovitti. Our father told us bits of information, but it was hard for him to talk about it. I will share this with my siblings.

I have been with Joey since I was 9 and he was 10. Played at the Park. I lived up the street from him on Coates Street Bridgeport. Had great times with him and your mom, Roe. My wife and childhood sweetheart crossed the bridge in 2005. I have been looking for your dad & mom for a while and finally found out all the news last week. Please feel free to contact me. I would love to see you guys as I did when u where very little. Mary Ann & I went to your house a lot.I would like to acquire some photos of mom & Dad if you can afford to give me a few. I really loved the both of them. I only wish I could have at least saw and talked to your mom. Thank You, Good health and Blessings. Joe Sr


I only just saw your message. I hope I am finding you well. I would love to learn more about my father. Here is my email:

I found the tragic story of the Iacovitti family while looking through an obituary index book. I do not know the Iacovitti family but was so touched by the obituary that I had to learn if Joseph found happiness. If you are searching the Iacovitti family, please use the information in the obituary above in Comments and write to the family.

Hello Joe, I just saw your message actually, on this board. I have started to look into the history of my family the last two weeks. I appreciated the additional information added by: @gildeagirl

Add new comment