Honoring the sacrifice: Little Rock AFB commemorates anniversary of tragic plane crash

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah Ortega Corona
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base held a High Flight Memorial ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a tragic accident involving a B-47E aircraft from the 384th Bombardment Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2024.

The ceremony remembered the lives lost in the accident that occurred shortly after takeoff during a regular training mission in 1964.

The ceremony was significant as it welcomed four children of the flight’s pilot, Lt. Col. Richard Hurdis, a father who left behind a wife and seven children. The siblings traveled to the base to honor their father's memory and participate in the remembrance activities.

The day began with a private gathering at the High Flight Memorial in Heritage Park, where the family took time for personal reflection, photos and the laying of a wreath at the memorial. This solemn moment set the tone for the day's events, honoring not only their father but all those who perished in the tragic accident.

As part of the commemoration, the Hurdis family took a guided tour of the base, visiting both the control tower and the flightline, where they had the opportunity to explore a C-130J Super Hercules. The family received valuable behind-the-scenes insights into the operational intricacies of how the base operates today, a drastic difference from when their father served at Little Rock AFB.

Later in the day, the family joined members of Team Little Rock for the retreat ceremony, a tradition that signifies the end of the official duty day and pays respects to the flag. During the ceremony, David Hurdis, Lt. Col. Hurdis’s youngest son, reflected on how much the day’s events meant to him.

“I can honestly say my loyalty lies with the Air Force,” said David Hurdis. “In a world filled with conflicts and chaos, you certainly need a strong military to protect the good of our democracy. We all know freedom isn't free. Therefore, I want to thank all the personnel at this Air Force Base for their service, their warm welcome to my family and for this ceremony.”

Col. Joshua Imme, 19th Airlift Wing deputy commander, remarked that the past events at the base help shape the present and future of Team Little Rock Airmen.

“As we commemorate the 60th anniversary, we remind ourselves of the importance of being prepared for challenges that await us.,” said Imme. “Let us never forget the lessons of the past, cherishing each moment and utilizing our strengths to their fullest potential. We must remain vigilant and ready for whatever lies ahead, honoring the sacrifices of those who paved the way for us. Together, we face the future with courage, resilience, and gratitude for the opportunities we have been given.”

During the ceremony, Base Honor Guard members expressed their deepest condolences to the Hurdis Family and presented them with a flag in honor of the B-47E aircraft and the ultimate sacrifice made by their father. This symbolic gesture was a testament to the base's respect, gratitude, and remembrance of the dedication and bravery exhibited by these service members.

“Their sacrifice reminds us of the frailty of our lives and the importance to give ourselves toward causes that are worthy of our lives,” said Maj. Dorn Muscar, 19th Airlift Wing chaplain. “Help us to give our all to each day we are given and to do what is good and right at all times. May you be honored by the conduct of our lives.”

The ceremony and the day’s events served as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by military personnel and their families in service to the nation. It also underscored the enduring legacy of honor and remembrance that continues to be upheld by communities and military installations across the country, including Little Rock Air Force Base.