On 4/7/44 the B-24D Liberator #42-72894 took off from the Tonopah Army Air Field on a nighttime cross country navigation flight. The take off was normal, but the airplane didn’t climb out normally, never achieving more than 300 feet AGL. The airplane was heading for rising terrain when the pilots suddenly realized the danger. Both pilots apparently pulled up in a climbing turn an instant before the collision. The right vertical stabilizer struck the ground first indicating that the airplane was in a climbing turn prior to the crash. The bomber then crashed into the mountain exploding into flames scattering wreckage on both sides of a ridge. Killed in the accident were: 2Lt. John F. Lasek, pilot; 2Lt. Richard A. Wixon, co-pilot; 2Lt. George E. Tinker, navigator; Sgt. Harold E. Salasky, engineer; SSgt. Gerald W. Hutchinson, radio operator; Cpl. Todd S. Salerno, gunner; Sgt. Howard O. Mattice, gunner; Cpl. John Covarrubias, gunner.