On a Rain-Swept Sunday, Memorial to Victims of Eastern Airlines Plane Crash Near Port Deposit Dedicated

On this rain-swept Sunday afternoon, about 30 people gathered to formally dedicate a memorial to the 53 people who died in 1947 when Eastern Airlines Flight 605 plummeted into a Cecil County woods.   The crowd, assembled on a Principio Road hillside near Jackson Park Road, included the son of a passenger, a sailor who rushed to the debris field, three Havre de Grace Police Department officers, and Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome.   

Barry Rosengarten of Perth Amboy, NJ, whose father was on the aircraft, made a few remarks.  “I so much appreciate your passionate, sensitive, and caring expression that will allow generations to follow the history and magnitude of that horrific and fateful night of Memorial Day 1974.”  Describing his first visit to the isolated spot, which took place a few years ago after he visited the historical society, he said:   “The evening air was crisp and starlight.  The night air was filled with a mellow earth and forest perfume.  I stood next to my car breathing deeply and feeling the moment almost as if I had been there.”  Barry thanked those who arranged for the memorial and helped to bring him to “this moment and to closure.”

William Dennie of Frederick was a young Navy recruit at Bainbridge Naval Training Center on Memorial Day 1947.  Presenting a proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley, William recalled being bused to the site so the hundreds of sailors could carefully comb through the woods and thick brush.  Erika Quesenbery provided the historical background and read the names of the victims, while Father Abrahams offered a prayer.   

As fire companies from throughout Western Cecil rushed toward horrific disaster in 1947, Chief Walker and two other officers of the Havre de Grace Police Department were the first to reach the tangled, blazing wreckage.  On this Sunday afternoon, over 60 years later, Chief Walter and two other uniformed command officers attended the memorial service to help remember the victims.     

Mrs. Jeanette Nesbit Hillyer and the Stewart Company arranged for the dedication and the monument.  Thank you Mrs. Hillyer and Stewart Company for assuring that the fading memory of this event will not be forgotten in Cecil County.

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17 responses to “On a Rain-Swept Sunday, Memorial to Victims of Eastern Airlines Plane Crash Near Port Deposit Dedicated

  1. My grandmother died in a plane accident in may 1947, she was flying from NY to Miami to take a plane to Chile, we believe she was a passanger of the 605 fly, but it has been imposible to find the casualties list to verify. Her name was Josefina Argandoña de la Fuente. Any information wil be appreciate.

  2. Viv, I think the CAB (Civil Aernoautics Board published the list of passengers or perhaps one of the papers. I’ll see if we have anything in our file and if so we’ll photocopy it for you.

  3. Sergio Guillen

    Viv aquí la menionan en este artículo. Mi abuelo y dos tías muerieron en ese vuelo también.

  4. Regarding the victims’ names, a more up to date list of dead came out the next day and can be found in the New York Times, “Revised List of Dead in Maryland Crash” New York Times, Jun 1, 1947, pg. 3. My aunt and namesake, Julia Horvath, died in the crash. She was a ballet dancer (previously w/the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) on her way to dance the season in Rio de Janeiro, along with Nivardo [Enrique] Rueda, and George Starrett; all three died in the crash. My dad (85 y.o.) still remembers being with his uncle when he ID’d her body so that his dad [my grandfather] wouldn’t have the horrid memory of seeing his daughter that way. He’s very grateful that a memorial has been placed to remember their tragic deaths. We hope to stop by sometime in the spring or summer to see the memorial. Thank you for keeping their memory alive.

    • Gina Guillen Grillo

      I am taking my mom, brother, aunt and son to Port Deposit on June 14.
      My grandfather and two aunts died in the accident.
      Anybody has contact information for Jeanette Nesbitt Hillyer ?
      We want to thank her!

    • My cousin was George Starrett who along with Julia Horvath, and Nivardo Rueda died in the Eastern Airlines Flight 605 at Port Deposit, Maryland. I was only ten years old at the time. My cousin was also a professional dancer
      and he was traveling to South America with your aunt, and Nivardo Rueda to
      perform in Rio de Janeiro. I would be interested in corresponding with you
      about your aunt, and her professional relationship to my cousin George Starrett. I live in Venice, California with my wife Pat. We are both in our 70’s
      and i’m just about retired from teaching art and design at the Otis College of Art and Design here in Los Angeles. I have been trying for years to find out
      about my cousin.

  5. We recently have heard from other family members too, asking about her. A son whose father was on the plane stopped by a few weeks ago.

    • Gina Guillen Grillo

      Oh no, Mike, that is very sad since I was hoping to meet her and thank her!
      I will try to find a relative then.
      Thanks for letting me know!

      • Father Abrahams, a retired Catholic Priest, did a part of the program. He is still around the area. You might try to contact him. He was also a friend of Mrs. Hillyer’s.

      • Gina Guillen Grillo

        Great Mike! I will try to reach him. Thanks for making all this possible through your writing 🙂

  6. My uncle.. John Medling lost his 20 year old wife Donna A Medling in the crash . She was one of the few initial bodys that were identifiable. My sister was named for her..it was a terribe tragedy for a 24 year old marine a few years home from the South Pacific theater in WWII

    • Brian thanks for sharing your story. Each year we hear from a few people who had family on the flight. In fact, a couple of months ago I was down there with a 90 years old to show him the area.

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