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Cold War Crash in Comfrey Remembered

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Fifty years ago during the Cold War a B–47 bomber jet crashed near the town of Comfrey, killing all four crew members.

Marianne Schotzko says, "The plane was on a high speed low–level simulated bombing mission. The crew had finished the bombing route named Iron Horse at 500 feet over a site at Heron Lake, southwest of Comfrey. They were climbing back to high altitude for the next portion of the mission when the outboard engine mount failed and the engine spun around the wing, putting the aircraft into an uncontrollable spiraling descent."

And even though the crash happened 50 years ago, Marianne Schotzko didn't want their memory to be forgotten.

Schotzgo says, "I was in high school when the B–47 crashed about two miles from my home and I became very involved then and as a member of the American Legion auxiliary had talked about this for a long time and two years ago when the daughter of Thomas Hallgarth came to see the site, she was so moved to see how peaceful it was out there where her father's last few minutes were that she wanted a memorial."

And Lt. Hallgarth's daughter was in attendance for the dedication, coming all the way from California.

Tammy Maher says, "Next to getting married and having my own children, at today in Comfrey has been something I'll never forget. It's been something that I thought about since I was a little girl and to come here today and see the work the community's put in building this memorial project, preserving the site of the crash and expressing their compassion and generosity in addition to establishing scholarship funds for the local youth has been beyond expectations."

Even though Tammy never got to meet her father, from stories passed on, she knows he'd be smiling down on them today.

Mahar says, "My dad had a great sense of humor. He was a musician, he had a fabulous sense of fun and a fabulous sense of bringing people together. So he would've gotten a kick out of this. I honestly think that all four of them in some special way have been present here all weekend."

And there were some in attendance today that were present at the crash.

Don Keepers says, "I got a call the day after the crash to come to the Comfrey area to help security as part of the Minnesota State Patrol, and when I got here I was helping the perimeter to keep the people away from the crash site."

Keepers is the last living patrolman from the crash and his photographs have helped preserve a piece of the Cold War that until recently was little known, but will now be forever known for generations yet to come of service to our country nestled in the fruited plains of Comfrey.