Jerry Guthrie was on that playground the day the planes collided.  He suffering only shock, minor burns and burned off hair and  cuts from metal fragments.

A neighbor found him wandering down the street crying and took him home to his mom who had just had a hysterectomy. His Dad drove him to the hospital. His parents were ill advised to sign off liability with Douglas aircraft for a small settlement.

Now he is in his early 60's,   Still has bad dreams and suffers from mental anguish which he believes is caused from the experience  of the things he saw that day.
copyright © 2006-2012 By Barbara Joan Gushin All Rights Reserved


This background is "Lost In Thought"  Art by Richard DeWolfe
                       Visit his Web site and online gallery.
January 31, 1957 is a day I will never forget. We were on the gym field just coming in from playing softball when we noticed a plane that looked like it was about to land on the field.  We all turned and started to run from the plane when it exploded into a million pieces.  The death and destruction was unbelievable.  My sister was attending Terra Bella
St School right next to the gym field. We lived just a few blocks from the school, my mother raced to the school to see what she could do to help. It was amazing there were not more deaths and injuries with the
number of children in the area at the time of the crash.  I had both feet broken however; I continued to walk off the field in a daze.  I still remember my coach running on to the field in the middle of the disaster doing what he could to save his students.  They say time healsall however this day has stayed with me all of my life.  I thank GOD for
all of the support I received during that time.

                                                             Robert "Bob"  Curry
My name is Gene Loiselle. What a flood of emotion and memories to see all these faces and names after all this time. I was with Bob Zallen that day, we were playing baseball on the first field by the elementary school, the bell rang and that's when we saw the plane coming at us, we took off together he was about 10' behind me when the plane exploded. Never saw him again.  Other kid's were already running , they must have seen the plane before we did. The worst part was that I saw Bob's sister after a while, she asked if I Bob was all right, I told her he was O.K. He wasn't. I didn't know. I thought he was O.K

Evan and I were in the boy scouts together, his father ran the troop, he lived close to me. Lots of kids in the article that I knew. Really brings back memories.  What a bad day that was.

Graduated from San Fernando High 1962.  Married in 1963, girl from Sylmar. Pat O'temba Still married, the love of my life. Two children, son 40 yrs old, daughter 38 yrs. 3 granddaughters oldest 17 yrs. 14, and 12.

I retired in 1999 from L.A.D.W.P. Moved to Payson in 2001. Small town , A lot different than L.A. We lived in the Valley for a while than moved to Simi Valley until I retired.

The year I retired I was driving by Pacoima Jr., the gates were open because they were painting. I was  driving a city car ,made a u turn and went out on the field. Looks different as an adult, still was a lot of emotion even than.

Drove by the school on the frwy on the way home and always saw the patch in the asphalt, always made me think of that day. The state finally put up the sound wall so I didn't see it, but never forgot that day.

I went to the  office area, no staff at the school. Looked around and was surprised at no memorial for the students that lost there lives.
                                                               Gene Loiselle
I was one of  the fortunate one's who survived ....I was in a music class when all the girls started screaming and I didn't know why until the loud boom ....Heard the noise of a plane but just thought it was a low flying plane as usual....(Burbank Airport)......We all went outside and saw all the grafitty in the air about 2oo ft .....then went home with about a dozen others and saw nothing of the playground....afterwards heared all about it from friends....

  I knew Evan Elsner we had played the summer before on Beachy Ave. Elimentary softball team and he was one of the better players. also was friends with Ray LaFiniere....He now works in Vegas as floor, what do you call them, behind the dealers....There's others who were
on the playground that day that I been friends with all my life but two have passed on.....Albert W.Arias '97, Vance Proctor 2005, .......Mauricio Rosas now lives in Carson City, Nev.....Alfredo Rico , Last I heared he moved to Simi Valley from Palmdale...,   use to play alot of golf with him
but then he quit......and my best friend, Joe Nitti.. moved to the Chicago area back in '68
                                       
                                                              Freddie Rosales
I was on the field when the plane crashed and i think about it quite often, i knew all the kids that were killed and Even Elsner and i went to the same church school. Merilyn Zallen and i were in one class together, and from what i heard the only way that she knew that it was her brother, was a piece of his shirt that they found on the play ground, he was hit by one of the engines and driven into the asphalt.

I saw the picture of Terry Brown on your website, and when i saw him at my class reunion he couldn't remember how he got hurt in the plane crash, well i told him that i was running next to him when he got hit in the back of the head.
                                   
                                                  Richard Williams class of 1959
Like many other students at the time, I had my personal trauma for years (nightmares of planes exploding and crashing, severe anxiety and panic attacks, total withdrawal towards the end of 1957 to the point of dropping out of school for a semester, etc.)  In my 40’s I went through several years of counseling with an excellent Christian psychologist.  There were other factors, but certainly the plane crash had a major impact on my life.  I was never totally sure of what was  “real memory”  and what were remnants of all the nightmares.  I had tried to find out the actual date of the event, but was never successful…..now I know. 

I had been out sick with the flu.  I had tried to return to school that morning, but was still coughing and the school nurse wouldn’t let me back in.  I was at home (about a mile away from the school in Arleta) sitting at our small kitchen table and looking out the window when I saw the explosion in the sky.  I was in the 9th grade, Richie Valens was in my class as well as Rodney Ballou, the brother of Albert Ballou.  I always felt disconnected from my classmates who were at school that day—like I didn’t have a right to feel traumatized. 

When I read the part of the article about what you were doing, the tears started rolling down my cheeks and my first though was “I am not the only one.  Someone else shared the same experience.”  My tears were simply sadness for the young girls we were to suffer such an experience.  

It is too bad there never was any real memorial, and sad that it never was something talked about much.  Things are so much different today since there is always counseling available—but it seems there are a greater number of such tragic events every year.

My husband and I are both retired now and will be married 38 years.
                                      
                                                     Connie (Cramblett) Fergus
I was also a victim of the Pacoima air crash. My name is John Victorino. I was fortunate enough to be transferred to Encino Hospital where two young surgeons fought to save my leg that the other doctors thought would need to be amputated.

                                                               John Victorino
I was there 50 years ago...  walking with my good pal Evan Elsner.  That
moment ..that experience has always been with me..It was amazing that all  of us 7th graders weren't killed.  The debris...the fuel..the fire...what a  horrific experience for a 12 year old.  I remember thinking to myself as  the plane came closer and closer "can't believe I only lived to be 12!!!" 

Took me many years to get on a plane ...  With only minor burns and my  clothes destroyed the insurance company came to my home and had my parents sign  - off for 50$!!  

                                                                     Howard Wang
  I myself witnessed the two planes colliding while in gym class at South Pasadena Junior High School while the coach was trying to teach us to do jumping jacks.  A friend and I were starring up into the air at the same time the two aircraft collided and followed the grayish smoke down as the planes descended.  Upon impact there was a flash of reflected metal and when we told the coach he just thought we were trying to loaf.  That afternoon the news was out and confirmed our sighting.  It was the first tragic event that I had witnessed and probably had something to do with my life's course.

I worked for the South Pasadena Fire Department and retired as Fire Chief after 28 years of service, and taught fire classes at Pasadena City College and Rio Hondo Collage for a combined 23 years.  I also own an airplane and still fly every so often.  My father owned a small airplane at the time of the crash, so that might have had something to do with my watching the airplanes when they came together.  I have told many people of the event but unless you witnessed it it doesn't have the impact. My eldest sister went on to becoming an airline stewardess and married a pilot and resides in Florida, she became one in 1960 and worked many years for National Airlines.  During my Fire career, I dealt with many tragedies and finally realized that the post traumatic stress of these events are life long and sometimes have to be dealt with professionally. 
              
                                                               William R. Eisele
                                                Fire Chief South Pasadena, CA.
                                                                        Retired
I was one the girls that had just come off the gym field and was filing into the gym to go to my next class.

All I know for sure is, when a plane sounds like it is over my building or anywhere I am, it brings me right back to that day instantly and start to
panic.  After all these years, it still affects me.

                                                           Leslie Pierce (Kramer)
I was there.  We lived about three blocks from the  school. The girls had just been called in from the field and were in the  locker room.  That is probably why no girls names were mentioned.

To  this day when I hear aplane overhead, if inside, I go out and look up to make  sure it is still in the sky.

I really remember nothing of that day other  than we were in the locker
room.  It must be the sound that I subconciously  remember.   I  knew Rodney and Albert Ballou and Terry  Brown.  I did see Orland Salazar about 5 years ago.  I believe he  lives in the Santa Monica area.  I really don't remember what happened.  What comes to mind is that a plane crashed on the gym field and  the pilot was killed.

                                                      Anna Marie Manocchio (Chesley)
I am the wife of Albert Pardo. My husband passed away 10-12-2005 due to he was ill, if my husabnd was still here i know down deep in my heart he would have LOVED to talk or see someone that he had went through this tragdy with. Al (Albert) offen spoke about the crash.  That was something he had never forgotten.

                                                                Mary Jane Pardo
I was attending Sun Valley Junior High at the time this event occurred.  I was sitting on bleachers with two or three of my friends eating lunch when somebody pointed to the sky and we saw the DC7 plummeting straight down and after impact we could see a huge cloud of black smoke.  And then someone else pointed to the sky and we watched the F86 crash in the foothills and again a large cloud of smoke. And then someone once again pointed to the sky and we watched the parachute of the F86 radar crewmember float to earth.  The crewman and his parachute landed maybe two blocks from my school and we could almost watch him all the way to the ground.  I remember that we all sat there trying to believe what we had just seen. 

I also remember seeing a young man, and I think it was at Poly High where I attended high school who's face and other portions of his body were very heavily scarred from burns.  I didn't know him, buy somebody told me he received his burns at Pacoima Junior High when the plane crash occurred.

Even though I was not immediately involved as were so many of you folks, it is something I will never forget.
                                                                    Randal Luse
I was at Pacoima Jr. High as a B7 student on that sad day. You can check any school annual of that year and you will find a picture of a skinny little kid who was still growing into adulthood. That is me. I have tears in my eyes as I write this letter to you.

I knew all the kids,  of course some better than other, but I knew them all. The photo of Evan Elsnor, who was a 'best friend' from Beachy Avenue Elementary School. We were in the Boy Scouts together. Our troop attended his funeral in full Boy Scout uniforms. I cried too hard that day. Nabor Jaramillo was also another one of my grade school chums. Have not seem him since high school. He was at one school I was at another.  Another student that I was close with through high school was Vito Galasso. We graduated from Alemany High School in '62. He under the the name of Mike Galasso.

Life has gone on for me and I have been blessed to have raised a beautiful family and have been comfortably succesful enough to have lived a good life. I have a beautiful wife, four sons and a beautiful daughter . They have given me fourteen grandchildren. What more can a man ask of his
life.

Yet with all the success and grand family there is a part of me that lives with the sounds, smell and harsh reality that when the Lord wants you, and you are called you can only do one thing...and answer the CALLING.

Once again, please excuse the tears and the anxiety but these feeling are buried down so deep that this life will not release me from the youthful memories of my school day friends.

                                                                          Art Melendez
I was going to San Fernando HS when the crash occurred, and remember it well.

Vito Galasso is living in Sylmar, California. He's been married to a friend of my wife's for years.

                                                                     Doug Hamilton
                                                              San Fernando HS S58'
I was a little girl in Cleveland, Ohio in 1957.  I will never forget that day, probably February 1, 1957, when my mother opened the Cleveland Plain Dealer, saw the headline and photos and ran next door to the neighbors' crying.  Bobby Zallan was my cousin and it was the first my mother had heard about the terrible plane crash over the Pacoima Middle School playground.  Communications were different in those days, not like today.  I don't remember much more than that, but recall running to hide when airplanes flew overhead for a long while after that. 
To this day I'm uneasy when I see an airplane flying over a playground

                                                                Fern Zalin Jones
(in the Old Country the family name was Zalinsky--some of the brothers changed the name to Zallan to keep the correct pronunciation but a couple brothers just dropped the "sky" when they came to this country.)
I was a 7 year old student at Terra Bella Elementary right next to it. The images and memories are still vivid to this day.
                                                              Skip Hansen


Hi Joan....I recently got together with David Gonzales, and Karl Fox in Las Vegas where Karl Fox lives. Karl went to Beach Ave. School and Pacoima Jr. with me. He was out in the gym field when the plane crashed. David also went to Pacoima Jr.,  he was there but was not out on the field. We were all in the same grade. Karl lived one block from me and across the street from Ronnie Brann, Ronnie and Karl were close friends. I was on the gardening area (which was right next to the gym field) me and the students were outside checking on our plants or doing something like that. When one of my classmates pointed up in the air and said there's a plane on fire. We all looked up and saw this huge plane with smoke and fire coming from it. Being young kids we thought it was funny, it looked to me like something I saw in a movie, it didn't look real. Well it wasn't funny anymore when the plane all of a sudden started coming down toward us. If I remember right we all start running around in a circle, we just didn't know were to run, I didn't know if it was going to hit us or what. The next thing I knew it seemed like the plane was right on top of us, but it went over us on the gym field.  Mr. Smith was our Gardening teacher, and after the plane crashed Mr. Smith told us kids to go inside the class room, and stay under our desks. Mr. Smith left us along as he went out in the gym field to help who ever he could. Well he never came back we were there for maybe and hour or so. What the school did was set up everything on the A-9 Court. Nobody knew what kids were hurt or killed, it was such a mess. So they marched all the kids they could on the stage of the A-9 Court so the parents could claim their kid.  Of  course I knew Ronnie Brann, he lived so close to me. I wasn't that close to Bob Zallan but I did know him. Evan Elsner I knew very well, we were in Beach ave. School and Pacoima Jr. together.

I'm retired now and live in Mesa , Arizona..I was married for over 30 years, and five years ago my wife died of cancer. But she did leave me with 6  kids and 10 grandkids, and that kind of keeps me busy.
                                       
                                                                                                                                                     Nabor Jaramillo
Nabor Jaramillo
  Thoughts from that day....Then and now
I was there that day also, in the auditorium practicing for graduation.  Merilyn Zallan was in one of my classes , but I did not know her brother. John Sain was one of my friends, and we all went to visit him at the hospital in Sun Valley, but I have not seen him since we graduated from JHS. It's hard to believe that next year will be the 50th anniversary of the crash. It seems like only yesterday, as many of the memories are still fresh my mind.

                                                              Robert Overholtzer
I am the daughter of the late Albert Pardo. I can remember my father telling me about the horrible accident, but at that time I was so young and really didn't pay much attention. I do remember him telling me that he can recall alot of screaming and kids running all over the place. My father was unconscious for about 2 weeks.

Now, among the injured was also my uncle Harold Gallardo, who introduced my father to my mother. Uncle Harold suffered 2nd degree burns to his hands and had a steel rod inserted into his right leg.

Uncle Harold never married, lives in Los Angeles, Ca and has been an Instructor for Cosmetology for as long as I can remember.

                                                                                                 Dorenha Torres
I want to thank Nabor, for helping me with the yearbook pictures.
Now
I was home that day with a cold.  I remember sitting on the couch, in my living room. I heard the loud sound of a plane that seemed to be coming down.  Looking out the large window, that faced my backyard, I was shocked to see the large wing of a plane about to crash through my window! It missed the window and moved away from view. Moments later it touched down and crashed on our school playground.  Going to school the next day, I was in the middle of the trauma, my friends were stressed and my girlfriend's brother had died in the crash.

I will never forget that day.  Today when I hear the sound of a plane, I listen , I remember.

                                                                  Barbara Joan Gushin
Barbara Joan Gushin
I was not born at the time of the Pacoima Air Crash. I have a friend I met online who was there and mentioned it a long time ago. I recently found your site, and I'm so grateful you created a memorial of sorts for the survivors to speak about that horrific experience. It has always saddened me that there was no memorial to the three boys who died, the many who were injuried physically, and the many more who were injuried emotionally.

As a young child, I lived over the flight path of a major airport. I remember very early fearing those planes as they flew above our home. I was lucky, my worst nightmares at that young age were never realized. From your site, I have learned what it could have been like to have witnessed and survived such a nightmare. I can't imagine the 50 years of fear and sorrow and despair that you and your classmates have lived with.

Joan I am so sorry for the horror you've lived with. Ronnie, Bobby and Evan I am so sorry for not only the terror you felt as young boys running for their lives, but also for the loss of those young lives. And lastly, to all the survivors: the friends, family and classmates I am truely sorry that such a tragedy took away so much from you. I can't imagine how it would be to be a child and survived such horror. I have children of my own, I know it would be devastating.

I had considered starting a website as a memorial for all of you, but now that Joan has created one, I will honor you and the memory of your fallen classmates by leaving this message.

I hope for peace for all of you. 
                                                                            lisa reynolds                  
Since it was one of the last days of the school year noone was dressed in there gym clothes. The girls had been called off the P.E. field and us boys were goofing around. Somebody said, " look at that airplane", and as I turned I saw a plane flying in an unusual way. As I watched, the plane
turned and headed straight down towards the playground. Someone yelled "It is coming towards us"! I began to run, and I remember thinking, I am going to die.

The plane exploded overhead and I was knocked unconscience. When I regained consciousness, I saw a scene that I can only describe as hell on earth. A guy was running on fire. I remember him saying,"Who is doing this to me". I saw a kid with his eye dangling from the socket and he was holding it in his hand. As  looked down at my leg I saw that the left leg of my white pants was soaked in blood.

I was transported to Sun Valley Hospital, but I don't remember how. There wasn't enough emergency vehicles so parents transported injured students to the hospital. Everyone came together and helped. The hospital was total chaos. The hallway was full of boys waiting for treatment. Distraught parents were searching frantically for there children. I will never forget Ronnie Brann's mother hysterically searching for Ronnie, and hearing her bloodcurdling scream when she was told of his death.

I was so happy to see my dad arrive. Gurneys and stretchers were not available, so my dad carried me to the operating room. He stayed with me while the doctors stitched the wounds on my leg.

The hospital stay was fun. I was there about a week. Friends and family visited and classmates were my roommates. We had wheelchair races in the hallways, and played games. Being with those who shared this experience was therapeutic for me.

My physical wounds healed quickly, but the emotional scars took longer. I had bad nightmares for a long time. I hope everybody who was there on that tragic day has put all that trauma behind them, and has had a good life. It has been almost 50 years since the crash. It is time for us to all get together and have a reunion and share our experiences. I hope everyone can see Joans site and remember what we went through.

Thank You for taking the time to put this on your site. You are the only person who has taken the time to acknowledge this tragic incident. I really appreciate it.
God Bless,
                                                                Fred Harold Tait
Fred Harold Tait

I went to Tera Bella elementary and was right next to the window when this crash occured and witnessed it all   My older brother Gary was out on the field when this occured and sustained burns and broken ribs.

Gary is doing ok physically, mentally I cannot speak for him. I know that this incident caused me quite a bit of trauma because of the time frame. We were in a very real "Cold war" and were on edge and this just multiplied the end result as far as Trauma.

We lived exactly RIGHT next door to the Gym Field on 13488 Terra Bella  which is now some kind of Condo complex and then we moved across the street to 13505 Terra Bella. Attended San Fernando High ( when not going to Poly and Monroe for discipline).

I will say that our 1 acre was a total mess after the crash and the FAA spent about 1 week sifting through our property and there were seats and part of a door laying there along with a ton of seat stuffing and fabrics and a lot of fragmented metal parts.

                                                           Wayne William Powell
I went to Pacoima Junior High and would have been out in P.E. went the plane came down on my cousins and friends, lucky for me that day I stay home, My mother and myself saw when the planes collided and came right over our house, my aunt lived at 9861 Sharp St. and had an Impeller impell into a home three houses away. I lived at 13136 Goleta St. Pacoima,

The only teacher that I remember from Pacoima Jr. High was Mr Inaba science teacher, I remember
going with my parents to Sun Vlly Hospital looking for my cousin Sergio Diaz who had wounds on his elbows.
                                                                                                      Gus Torres
My name is Bob Funkhouser and was a good friend of Ronnie Brann. We were standing next to each other when we saw the plane. He ran one way and I another. Wish he had followed me. I was unhurt, but found him on basketball court afterwards. Wish I had never seen what happened to him. I was a pall bearer at his funeral.
                                                                       Bob Funkhouser
My name is Marsha Prieto and I was in grammar school when the plane went down on the field of Pacoima Jr. High. We were lining up on the steps of Mrs. Masters class when we heard the planes in the air.  When we looked up, all we saw were the parts of the planes coming down and what looked like silver glitter all over the sky.  Mrs. Master took us in our room and had us go under our desks thinking we were being bombed. My brother Allen and my cousin Ed Prieto were at Eds sisters graduation practice and were not on the field at the time.  My Godfather, Eds Dad, saw what happened and put on his uniform, he was a policeman, got on his motorcycle and went to the scene.  He was the first one there and was helping.  He said it was a sight he would never forget.  I knew Albert and Alex Pardo and was very sorry to hear of Alberts passing.  When I saw the article in the paper a few weeks ago, I could not believe it was that long ago.  Thank you for posting this website, we should never forget the pain of that day.
                                                                           Marsha Prieto
I was on the playing field when we saw the plane coming toward the school. It took a few seconds to register that it was going to crash.We could see debris coming from the back of the plane and the
pilot waving his arms for us to run. I have never run so fast in my life. I could feel the pieces from the plane hitting my back but not knocking me down. I hit the fence at full force like I was trying to go through it. As  I lay there I could fell the pieces hitting all around me. When it was over I got up and tried to find my way out of the smoke and fire. I helped a fellow student who had a cut on the
back of his leg. Together we passed by the basketball courts and tennis courts. I can still remember the kids injured on the ground pleading for help.When my Dad picked me up at school and took me home he asked me how I was. I told him I was fine. The next morning I was stiff and sore, I remember looking in the mirror and asking my sister to look at my back. It was completely purple and my head was covered with bumps. To this day I consider myself extremely lucky after seeing all those kids that were burned and injured.I remember Evan who sat in front of me in Home Room. Bob was in my gardening class.     
                                                                         Rudy Gallegos
Hi my name is George Sanders. Both my dad and my uncle went to Pacoima jr. High at the time of the plane crash .  My dad was on the gym field when the planes crashed and hit the school. My dad’s name is Gary Everett Sanders and my uncle was named Howard Wayne Sanders. My uncle passed away a few years ago. My dad is still alive and tells me about the crash. I’m 29 years old.  My dad says he was on the gym field playing softball and they were about to come in after the bell when they looked up and saw and heard the collision in the air. And my dad said he watched the plane come down, my dad said he was blown back and hit the ground and he was laying on the ground next to the engine that smashed into the asphalt and was sticking out of the ground and my dad was laying in engine fuel and grease about a inch thick and burned on his arms and his clothes. He said he was soaked in airplane fuel from top to bottom and he was sliding and he landed near the engine. he lost his shoe and he remembers getting up and walking to class not knowing if it was his class he wore glasses and he was in a daze and then going to the hospital but not knowing how he got there .he said he was in the hospital about a day and a half. My dad knows the story better then I do. My dad looked at the website and remembered some of the people. He knew Albert Ballou ,  My dad knew a few people who was hurt on the field. My dad thought that there was a girl who got injured like losing her arm or got paralyzed and that she never came back to school. Or something like that. And he remembers one girl who got blown back and wrapped around a fence .I don’t know for sure I’d have to ask for more details. My dad’s memory is pretty good about the crash and the area of Pacoima because he’s from there. Well I thought I’d let you know I enjoyed your site and my dad looked at it. And it brought back memories.  So I thought I would write you. And let you know I enjoyed it and I learned a lot. after my dad looked at it we talked for a while and it’s interesting. Well thanks for the history.
                                                                  George Sanders
My name is Carol Rose (Shapiro)  I was at Pacoima Jr. High the day of the crash.  I was in my room and I remember hearing this loud noise and our teacher went over to the window and looked out and told us all to drop and we all rid under our chairs.  My brother, Gary Shapiro, who was Student Body President at that time, was in the Auditorium and so were my Mom and Grandparents.  I knew everyone was there so I was very worried about everyone and they about me.  I remember everyone running and yelling and then making us all walk across a stage so that our parents could find us.  It is a day we will all remember for as long as we live.  I now live in Potomac, Maryland.  I have been married for 40 years and have 2 boys and 3 granddaughters.  My husband is a homebuilder and developer.  My brother Gary lives in Phoenix, AZ.

                                                                      Carol Rose
By God's will or good timing I was "almost" the only girl on the gym field that incredible day.  The girls went in early but I had left my good and only winter coat on the bleachers so had run out to get it.  No sooner had I entered the side door of the girls locker room than I heard the impact.  I turned to look out the door and vividly remember all the debris that had been on the ground flying in the air.

I was stunned but had no idea of the magnitude of what had just happened.  My friend Kay Proctor had been working in the gym office that period and had seen the impact.  I am grateful I was spared that.

I was wearing the pleated skirt I had made in Home Ec class.  It was gray with big black dots.  My mother said she frantically looked for those dots as she watched us walk across the A9 stage.  I told her I was okay but the next day I had a bad case of diahrrea.  It was all so hectic that it took some time for the realty to hit home.

I knew Bobby Zallan well and Ronnie Brann would have been in one of my classes the next year.  After all these years, whenever I think of that day I can see those three faces vividly.  As a mother, I can feel the pain of yesterday for those mothers who lost their children more than I did at the time.

Linda Latrell was speaking in the auditorium when the plane crashed.  She is the best friend of my ex sister in law.  I saw her last year for the first time in years.

I am recently retired from Boeing (Rocketdyne), have 3 daughters 42, 40, 36, and 4 grandchildren.  Was married to my HS sweetheart, Roger Randall for 11 years and have not remarried.  I have lived inCalabasas since May 1975, before anyone knew it existed. Also retired from the Navy Reserve 8/04 and am now wondering what to do with all my free time.

                                                               Phyllis Hunter Randall
My sister , Jaqueline (Jacky) Hampton was in the auditorium for graduation practice – she was with Allan (Todder) Prieto.  She said that the ceiling tiles were falling down on top of them and there were lots of screams.  My Mother and our next door neighbor ,Carmen Prieto were talking over the fence between our front yards, they saw the plane going down and both knew their kids were in trouble!   It has been a memory, event, etc. that has plagued our family and those who lived in the area.  It amazes me that people outside of the San Fernando Valley area only think of it in terms of “Oh, like the movie LaBamba”.  
                                                                                   Annette Hampton

I remember that day, January 31, 1957, like it was yesterday.  It was report card day.  It was third period, gym class, and we had turned in our report cards to be graded.  Since it was report card day we were wearing street clothes instead of our usual shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. 

All of the students were allowed to chose a sport to participate in while waiting for the coaches to grade our report cards.  I was in the group playing softball on the field closest to the men’s side of the gym.  The softball game had just finished. We were lining up on a block of faded orange numbers painted on the blacktop, facing the gym, waiting for the coaches to come out and give us our report cards. 

Someone said to look at the plane off to our left, toward the hills to the Northeast.  We all looked up and this four engine propeller aircraft was flying East past the hills with smoke coming out of it’s wing.  Suddenly the plane turned toward the school and started heading toward us.  We watched for a few minutes as the plane grew larger and larger, then everyone panicked and started running in every direction.  I foolishly turned toward the handball courts and ran in the same direction as the plane was heading.  I heard a very loud bang and turned my head in time to see a large, instantaneous fireball.  Fortunately for me, the plane had exploded in the air.  If it hadn’t exploded, it would have flown into me for sure.

Because I was uninjured, I remember being directed to the handball courts facing the gym fields where we sat and watched all the wounded kids move past us as they came off the field.  I assume there was a trauma center set up somewhere for those kids that were injured.  Later, the uninjured kids were directed to the library where my father eventually picked me up.

I sat in front of Bobbie Zalen in Mrs. Fiedler’s second period class and again in Mrs. Fiedler’s fourth period class.  I think one was history and the other social studies.  I was also in the same scout troop as Evan Elsner.  Later, the troop was renamed the Even Elsner Troop. I did not remember Ronnie Brann.

Other remembrances:  I loaned my Mad Magazine Pocket Book to Richard Berger.  Richard was holding the book when the fireball hit and his hands were very badly burned.  I still remember how scarred his hands looked when he returned to school. 

Today, as I sit writing this, I wonder how much less the mental scarring would be for all of us if we had had the kind of counseling that people are offered today after so cataclysmic an event.  Counseling was unheard of then.  Too bad.

                                                             Donald A. Berezin
Donald Berezin
I was a 5th grader attending Panorama Baptist Elementary School in Panorama City.  Mickey Rooney’s sons (Timmy & Mickey Jr.) both attended this school when I was there the day this plane crash occurred.  Timmy and I were in the hall on a pass to the restroom when we looked up and saw the DC-7 on fire and coming down.  We were so scared that we ran to the front of the school, crawled under a parked car at the curb thinking it was going to crash in our school. 

My sister, Elouise Lorraine Feaster was in the auditorium for graduation practice.  One of the engines hit in front of the double doors and blew them inward.  One of my paper route customers told me their son had been killed in this crash.  Dick Funkhauser, I believe, was the younger brother of Bob mentioned in the articles/pictures.  I attended Pacoima Jr High graduating in 1960, class was Centurions.

Amazing, I have never forgotten all the details about this tragic, tragic incident.

                                                             Tim Feaster
Tim Feaster
I have always felt like I didn't quite have a right to experience that  day so dramatically since I wasn't part of the accident.  It is a great  relief to read people's accounts who were also witnesses and were as  devastated by it as I was.

I am Kathryn Berger Muhs, sister of Richard Berger.  I was six years old when the planes crashed that day.  We lived on Laurel Canyon Blvd.  which was a few blocks from the school.   I had been having a reoccurring dream of the earth shaking violently, followed by me frantically searching for my mother for safety.  In the dream, I never
found her but saw a tremendous ball of fire before waking in a panic.  I don't know how long I had the dream, but it had to be weeks.  I never told anyone about it until years after the fact.

The morning of the accident, I was playing paper dolls in my brothers' bedroom.  I still remember looking at the black metal bunk beds with  the brown bedspreads as I played.  When the explosion happened and the
earth shook, exactly as in the dream, my first thought was that I had somehow caused this disaster.  I was too young to realize that it was simply a premonition.  I was consumed with fear and guilt.  My mother later told me that I didn't speak for a month after that morning.

I was determined to find my mother and not be lost in fear as in the dream.  I ran from the bedroom and made it into the living room just as my mother ran out the front door.  I remember vividly that she had on a
bright green skirt with large white flowers.  I followed her outside and grabbed onto her skirt and felt safe for one second before I looked up and saw the incredible orange ball of fire surrounded by black smoke
and flying metal debris.  My mother threw me to our next door neighbor and ran toward the school.  I don't remember a thing after that until my other brother, Paul, and I were allowed to stand outside of
Richard's hospital room weeks later.  He was under  what appeared to be a tent like structure to protect the third degree burns he sustained on his back.  He was on morphine so I'm not sure whether he knew we were
there.  I distinctly remember the overwhelming kindness of two of his nurses:  Mrs. Bowling and Mrs. Seager.  His doctors were also compassionate and one of them gave Richard a small scale train.  Roy Rogers brought his show to the lawn of the hospital so Richard and the other boys could escape their situations momentarily.

That event controlled my life for years.  I lived in fear that something equally extraordinary might happen again.  I vowed to never have children so I wouldn't have to deal with the loss I witnessed.  Most difficult of all, however, was watching Richard suffer at the hands of cruelty from others.  I remember the day he returned home from
the swimming pool.  The physical therapist had said swimming would be beneficial, but that he'd have to wear a t-shirt to protect his burned skin.  People actually made fun of him because he wouldn't take off the
shirt.  I felt utterly useless that day when I saw his pain and could do nothing to take it away.

I finally met a wonderful man and married at 27.  After years of therapy, I had two children but ended up being ridiculously overly protective.  I tried to explain to them why I was like that, but like
many of you have mentioned, if you weren't directly connected to that day, it's difficult to understand.

I shall send this site to Richard in case he would like to communicate.  Richard  is well and living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Interestingly enough, I've never directly asked him about that day.  I was afraid that if life has been this difficult for me, I was afraid to imagine what it must be like for him                                                  
                                                          Kathryn Berger Muhs
It's taken me 2 days to get the courage to attempt putting my repressed feelings and thoughts on paper. As I began reading the comments by my classmates,I was surprised at the flood of emotion as I realized that it was a shared experience with almost exact shared consequences:

In my 12 year old mind I decided that if I ever flew in an airplane it would crash. Every plane flying over was a potential crash. I would shake and cry in a thunder storm until I was an adult because the sound was like the impact. I had claustrophobia and panic attacks for most of my life since then. Now I know that it isn't something that was just happening to me. Joan, you're doing a wonderful service to provide this outlet. I too wonder what the outcome would have been if we were provided with councelling and trauma teams as they do now.

We had a two week break and then back to school as usual. I was Student Body Historian at the time. A very 'cushy' job...until Jan 31st. I wonder if they still have the scrapbook at the school where I put all the newspaper clippings? Looking at the photos from the yearbook, I remember most of you. I've often thought about Richard Burger. He was a much better pianist than I was in Mr Graver's Orchestra but never came back to class after burning his hands so badly.

I saw my 'first boyfriend' many years ago at a shopping center...Albert (Ballou)owned a prosthetic company. I grew up with Albert and Rodney and was sitting behind Rodney in the auditorium for Senior Chapel that day. The chorus had just finished singing "When you Walk Thru a Storm, hold your Head up High"...("You'll Never Walk Alone"),and suddenly a high pitched screaming whine started. The pitch lowered as it got louder and louder. I dug my nails into the hand of the girl sitting next to me, and then the crash. I remember the potted plants on the stage crashing to the floor and the ceiling tiles and plaster coming down on top of us. I think it was one of the wings or an engine (?) that was on top of the roof.

We all grew up with 'bomb drills' and I thought that we were being bombed and worried about my Mom and all my relatives who lived next to me on Goleta street. I remember having a 'vision' (for lack of a better word)of an open field with chunks of debris all around. We sat there stunned for several minutes until the Principal came back in and announced that a plane had crashed on the school grounds and when they finally let us out there were people with stretchers running thru the schoolgrounds and I started to realize the seriousness of the situation. I went to the front gate and watched the Moms being held back as they tried to find out about their children. One of them was mine frantically reaching out to me saying,"There she is...there's my daughter".

At some point they organized us and we 'paraded' homeroom by homeroom as they took role and released us to our parents. That's when my Daddy found me. He had been with the pastor of our church at a store in Panorama when they heard and saw ambulences going by. The pastor went in to see what had happened and had to break the news to my father that it was at my school. We too had debris and seat stuffing all over our yard for many days.

Thank you, classmates, for sharing your experiences.

One boy said that he actually jumped over the chain link fence as the plane came down. Albert told me that a priest gave him last rights and covered him up with a sheet and he pulled it down and said, "I'm not dead!" We had relatives from as far away as England calling us in the days that followed. My first plane ride was a trip to England with my children and Mom. My job was to hold the plane up with my hands gripping the armrests thru the whole trip. I've flown many times since then and no longer have claustrophobia (well, maybe a little).

I still cringe at a noisy plane going overhead. I married my high school sweetheart, Frank Toro, we have three children and 7 wonderful grandchildren and live in Thousand Oaks.

Hello to all of my old friends.
                                                         Bobbi  ( Barbara Capps Toro)
I was a 6 year old standing on the playground when the plane crashed.  I never even remembered the incident until about 5 years ago.  I am sure that it has somehow shaped my life as I am now in practice as a MFT who specializes in treating trauma!  For years I was afraid to fly in planes, never even knew why.  I was one of the lucky ones as I was not physically injured.

I am now approacing my 56th birthday, have 4 grown children and live a happy life in Simi Valley.  My name at the time was Chrissie Bennett.

Thanks for hosting this site and allowing those of us who were impacted to share our stories.

                                                                    Kristy Schadt
It was good to see this many people responding after all this time. I hadn’t really considered the effects of the accident on those around us, the more direct casualties of that day.  I don’t remember much about my day on January 31st 1957.  I remember that it was report card
day and we were in street clothes.  I have a vague recollection of seeing a whisp of smoke high in the sky, followed by a sense of some great mass passing, like a freight train.  Then I was on the ground in what seemed like a heavy storm that was eerily silent.  I heard someone
say “that guy’s on fire” and realized it was me.  I looked at my hands and they were black and blistered. The cuffs of my jacket were smoldering but my jacket was gone.  I woke up in the evening at Valley Hospital, laying on my stomach, I had 3rd degree burns on 25% of my
body, 2nd degree burns elsewhere, a deep slash across my back and a baseball sized hole in the back of my left leg.  My roommate was Evan Elsner.  I didn’t know him from school, his family was there and he looked like a small mummy in his white bandages head to toe. He was as
pale as his bandages, which made his eyes and freckles stand out.  His left leg was gone below the knee.  I think he lived for two days.  I woke up one morning and he was gone.  No one said he died but I knew he died and I wondered if I was in the room where they put people who are
going to die, but soon there was a kid there who was having his tonsils out, sleeping and whining in that death bead, as if nothing had happened.  “As if nothing had happened”  That’s how we all dealt with it.  I was a nobody in a giant population of students and being a survivor made me sort of somebody.  There was instant credibility and bravado in characterizing the whole experience as “nothing”. I know that a crucial developmental period of my life was interrupted as I fought for my life, but I will never understand what happened to me because I have nothing to compare it with, no way of knowing what might have been.   I have been spared recurring nightmares and horrific recollections but I have lived my whole life since then with a blind gnawing rage as a backdrop for whatever other good and even wonderful things I have experienced.  I wrote a short story titled “Imprint” about the time leading up to the accident, it is on my website check it out.  I have recently thought about all of us, we are an unwilling brotherhood of fire and pain.

                                                              Richard Berger
People just don't understand what an event this was and how it stays with you over the years. I was a 5th grader at Terra Bella Elemenetary when the planes crashed. I can recall the sites and sounds and everthing that happened after that as clear today like it just happened. I had a wonderful time attending Pacoima Jr High and there is so little around to bring back all those memories. I can't find photos or yearbooks. Thank you so much.

                                                       Hank Beauregard
That Morning we were lining up to go back into the gym.  I was a squad leader so my back was facing the plane. The kid in front of me yelled ‘the plane was crashing’.  When I looked out I didn't see the plane because I was looking in the wrong direction. Then I heard the squealing of the plane coming down. It sounded like it was an air raid siren.  That's when I  turned around and saw the plane for the first time.  It was about 250 feet off the ground, maybe more not sure.  It's right Wing was almost coming off by the time I saw it. I don't know what made me run in the direction I did but I ran towards the plane instead of away from it. I think that saved my life..  I thought we were being bombed by the Russians, so I dropped to my knees  and covered my head.  At first I thought I was going to  die when I heard the explosion.  I knew I was alive when I  felt the heat from the fire.  When I got up I couldn't believe what I saw, oil and  fire and kids running around burning .  I heard some of them crying for their mother that's what I decided to leave the school and go home and tell my mom was okay.

I just remembered, when we were starting to run the gym coach got on the PA speaker and told us to get back in line, he couldn't see what we did .  I don't recall seeing anyone from any department sticking her hands out the windows and waving for us get off the field but it could of happened.  When I got to my knees I saw a kid next to me that looked like a piece of plane hit him in his head I think he died.  When I got up by couldn't believe what I saw.  My brother and sister went to the elementary school,  I ran by to see if they were OK. If this was  like a war, they were to be lined up outside. 

There were so many mothers and fathers grabbing at me & asking me where their kids were. I don't think I even said anything to them I just wanted to go home and tell my mom that I was okay and so was my brother and sister....do you know, I got hit by something to the ankle it took stitches to close it.  That was nothing to all the guys that hurt so bad I guess God was looking out for me.

I think it was Harry Gallardo who told me the plane was crashing, he was a branch of the Pardo Brothers. Vito Lasso was on a baseball team we just formed he was burned over 90% of his body.  Tony Barrio's was also a good friend of mine.  We were just lucky that the girls went in two minutes before us.  To this day I still remember everything that happened.
                          
                                                                  Joe Nitti
Now
I was in 3 grade attending Terra Bella Elementary School.  I remember being in class and the classroom's windows were facing the gym field. I use to daydream a lot back than (guess I still do) and was looking out the window when I say something on fire falling from the sky and hit with a loud sound that I still remember today.  My teacher looked out and started to cry and than had the class leave the room and go to the other side of the building where we could not see the gym field.  She tried to calm all of us and some of my class mates and my good friend Randy Waters started to cry as we were all very scared.

This horrifying accident has affected everyone who was there and when I was with the Los Angeles School Police and had been involved in a very serious incident they had me go to the shrink.  He had me go back and try to remember the most terrifying times in my life and it all started coming back.  I cried like a little school girl.  I had no idea until then how much it impacted my life.

  I hope all of us can use this experience to appreciate like now and not dwell on just the horrific times in our lives.

Hope you have been able to use it as a life building experience.  I know not many people can understand how much this type of experience can affect someone unknowingly and I thank you for your well though out web page. 

                                                                                  

                                                                                      Paul Beauregard
                                                                                       West Hills, CA
Then

I was on field that morning and I thank God He was Me Like Always.  I just ran across this page and I started looking throug it.  Many years have past but I can still remember it like if had happend.  I am almost 65 years old now.  I am a resident of Rosamond,Calif.
                                                                                   
                                                                                           Sergio M. Diaz

I was a third grade student at the Terra Bella Elementary School, just across the fence from the Pacoima Junior High School and watched events unfold from my classroom only one row of buildings from the fence separating our schools. I recall the event so vividly as to be able to describe it as it happened, from my perspective, in the classroom.
  I had recently immigrated with my family, from Holland, only eight months before. We had rented a house on Arleta Avenuejust north of Terra Bella Avenue, and my sister and I were enrolled at the nearby Terra Bella Elementary School. My class was about to play a game of Bingo that morning, when I,walking back to my seat, heard a tremendously loud whining aircraft engine like sound. I looked out the window and saw a silver cylinder speeding toward the ground at about a 35 degree angle from the east. There was no evidence of a tail nor any wings that I could see. I did not remember any smoke trailing it and initially thought it to be a bomb, thinking perhaps the Russians were attacking. The class, en masse, ran outside, instead of performing the well practiced "drop" drill. The ground shook terribly with the impact and we could feel the heat from the exploding fuel, even 200 meters away. The remainder of the day was spent with other students, along the fence, watching the horror unfolding on the gym field. My family and I subsequently moved to what became Arleta, near Wentworth Street and Arleta Ave. I attended Byrd Junior High,which had recently opened and then to Poly in 1963 where I ran track under Coach Vardanian, the man who tied off a tourniquet on one of the injured students nearly severed leg in the immediate aftermath of the crash only six years earlier. I recall discussing the crash with him at least one occasion. He has since died several years ago. It is hard to believe it happened over 50 years ago.
I have looked at some of the other sites pertaining to the crash. Several contributors to these sites were at Terra Bella Elementary as well. Every time I visit the Valley and drive past Pacoima Jr High on the 5 freeway, I drive directly over the spot where my class room stood, and my mind goes directly back to that day in January of 1957. None of us who experienced that day will ever forget the event and those children, our comrades and friends who were injured and died that day.
There has been much water passed under the bridge since that day long ago. After I graduated from Poly, I and many of my friends were drafted or joined the service to avoid the draft. I went into the Navy and ended up on an aircraft carrier (U.S.S. Coral Sea)bound for Viet Nam. After four years and three combat tours, I attended Valley College and then UCLA and subsequently two years for advanced degree at CSUN only to then attend medical school. I now practice Internal Medicine sub specializing in Nephrology (kidneys) at Kaiser Permanente in Lancaster CA as well as Panorama City and Woodland Hills Med Centers. I have been very fortunate in my life, and, as any of us, could have been out in the open on that fateful day, and had our lives cut tragically short as did those kids on the gym field.

                                                                                            Albert Bodt, M.D.
i was burned head to toe, critical for a week, in hospital (san fernando, surgeries at st. joseph, with additional surgery at st joseph in the summers of 1958 and 1959)

i haven't seen any of the gang, although their names and faces are burned in my memory.  I graduated from csun in engligh and creative writing.  retired from the d.a.'s office about 4 years ago.  spent my life in the hollywood hills and bought a weekend house in palm springs in 1987.
                                                                                  Wallace McCabe
This is a video, dedicated to those who endure the pain of the past, and a hope for your future.
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A musical video of hope for the future.
I was in our school playground (Lincoln Elementary) in La Cresenta, Ca when I saw the F-89 fighter go down and the one and sole parachute come down, at the time had no idea of the overall impact of what I witnessed. It is something that one will never forget. God bless all that survived and my those who perished have everlasting life with our lord.
                          
                             Thanks for a place to remember,
                                       Rich Johnson
Then
Now
I attended Terra Bella School from Kindergarten until I was halfway through third grade. Terra Bella School was a school that was temporary in that it was nothing but portables (called bungalows back then). It was built in response to the booming population in the valley after World War II and also, I suppose, in response to the baby boomers coming of school age. I am not sure when it opened.

Terra Bella School was on the corner of Terra Bella Avenue and (I think) Sharp Avenue. On the other side of the fence (also on Terra Bella Avenue) was Pacoima Junior High School.

On January 31, 1957, I was a third grader at Terra Bella. Two planes crashed over the campus of Pacoima Junior High and then down onto the playing field.

My classroom was in a row of classrooms.  There was one other row between  us and the fence that separated our school from the junior high.  Our teacher, sitting and facing the windows in the back of the room, saw the two planes collide in the air and gave the command "drop." This was the time of the cold war, so we were all well trained and knew that "drop" meant that we were to instantly drop to the floor under our desks in kind of a fetal position with our hands protecting the back of our heads. We all dropped, and when we got up we looked out and saw the sky filled with smoke and fire and debris flying around. It was scary.

One of my friends was in second grade, and her class had just returned from a field trip.  They, thankfully, were misbehaving, so their teacher made them stand outside their classroom until they became orderly.  They were standing on the side of the classroom that was not facing the junior high.  A piece of the plane came into the classroom, and went through the floor.  It could have been tragic if students had been inside.  I read an account where one classroom in our school was completely demolished.

The pilots of both planes were killed as well as a few junior high students who were outside on the playing field during gym class. That plane crash is actually listed as one of the top plane crashes in California history.

I think they must have rang the bell for a fire drill or something immediately afterwards, because I can remember seeing injured students on the junior high side.  I remember seeing one boy that had severe burns on his face.  It seems kind of strange that they would take us to a place where we could actually see the carnage on the playground.  It is also strange that I remember very little of that part of it except that one boy.  It kind of tells me how traumatic it was for all of us at such a young age to see that kind of thing. 

The response to the crash was that they called our parents to come and get us and we went home.  I  remember feeling kind of sick to my stomach as a result of what I had seen.   Some students stayed home the next day, but many did not.  I remember a reporter from the Valley Green Sheet (now the “Daily News”) coming and wanting a picture of all of us elementary students looking through the fence at the wreckage.  That now seems very odd to me. 

What was interesting was the stories that came out of it. Some true. Some not true. One account had the pilot leaning out of the cockpit and motioning to the kids on the ground to get out of the way. One story was about a mom who was so worried about her son that she had gone over a seven foot fence in almost a single jump. Ritchie Valens (a popular singer at the time) was a student at Pacoima Junior High and there was an untrue rumor that he was killed in the crash. (What actually WAS true was that his best friend was killed in the crash, and sadly Ritchie himself died in a plane crash almost exactly two years later.)

The crash was on January 31, a Thursday. On the following Monday, Vena Avenue School opened its doors, and I went there as planned. It was finally finished and ready to receive students. I often think that moving to the new school was a good thing, because it got us away from the memories. Not all students left when I did, because the other new school (Sharp Avenue) wasn't ready until several years later. I wonder what it was like for them staying there after the crash.

                                                                   Beverly Littau
For whatever reason, I was thinking the other day that it's been over 50 years since that event and wondered if I could find any information on the Internet, and there you were!

I remember that day. I was in a classroom adjacent to Laurel Canyon Blvd. There were always low flying aircraft in those days. You could here them come close and get louder and then fade off as they flew by.That day, the engine noise got louder and louder and the room began to shake.

There was a girl student at the blackboard. I remember her grabbing the teachers arm, then out of the corner of my eye (I sat near the window), I could see a silver fuselage about 50-100 feet above, then a second or two later, an explosion. All I can remember was the sky filled with shrapnel. It was so thick, it looked like snow flakes. It came down for the longest time. The clock on the wall stopped at 11:19.

When we were finally released  to the auditorium so our parents could claim us, I could see passenger seats between the bungalows. It was a horrific sight.

I went to Poly High after graduating Pacoima Jr High the S-1958. I graduated high school at Hollywood High.
I now live in Naples, Florida.
                                                         
                                                        Martin Doctors   
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