In Memory of
U.S. Air Force Major Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Dewey County

August 16, 1916 -- March 18, 1953
Died in a Crash of RB-36 near Gander Field, Newfoundland


Frank Clarence Wright was born in DeGray, South Dakota, on August 16, 1916, to Asa Edward and Achsah Wright. He had three sisters: Gertrude, Lucille, and Leone, and one brother, Carol. They were raised near Parade, South Dakota, and Frank graduated from Eagle Butte High School in 1938. Then he went to Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell. On October 15, 1939, Frank entered the 147th Field Artillery at Mitchell and later entered the Air Force and was trained as a pilot. He married Evelyn Ruth Bailey in 1941 at Reno, Nevada. Frank and Evelyn had three sons: Ward F., Frank C., Jr. and Donald W.

Major Frank Clarence Wright served as a pilot in WW II; he flew B-24 bombing missions in the Mediterranean Theater. After the war, Wright stayed with the Air Force and was stationed in Germany, along with his family. They returned to the United States when Major Wright was transferred to the Rapid City Air Base and learned to fly the B-36’s. He was a part of the 718th Squadron, 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

Major Frank Clarence Wright was aboard an RB-36H on March 18, 1953, when the plane was flying from Lajes, Azores, having completed a routine exercise, back to Rapid City. The plane struck an 896-foot hill, crashed, and killed all twenty-three people who were on board. Among the others killed were Captain Orien Franklin Clark from Rapid City and Brigadier General Richard Elmer Ellsworth. The bodies of those three men were returned to South Dakota and buried close to each other at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis on March 28, 1953.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Chantelle Rae Janke, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on July 28, 2004. An application for a SD veteran’s bonus, the South Dakota National Guard Museum, and the Eagle Butte News, March 20 and 27, 1953, issues provided information for this entry. Memorial stone photo by Mrs. Hansen. No family contact made.