Crew of B-24 that crashed on village of Graveston finally gets a monument

The Garveston memorial team concluded that the crash occurred when 1st Lt. Raymond Sachtleben tried to avoid a midair collision.

For decades after, nobody knew who the men were or what has happened to them.

Michael Garrod, who was 5 years old when the plane crashed in his village, lived with the memory of that day for the rest of his life. “I always had this picture in my head of a parachute hanging in a tree, and fire and bombs going off,” said Michael who dedicated years and years of research to finding out about the men who died.

An American B-24, on its way to attack German positions located in France, took off just 70 miles north of London, two days before D-Day invasion.

The truth about 1st Lt. Raymond Sachtleben and his crew, comes up nearly 70 years later, after Garrod’s intense research and his correspondence with a group of Hackensack high school students who themselves were giving recognition to some of those who died too early, the reports.

The plane crashed on June 4, 1944. A day the 660 people of Garveston will never forget. A story that will be told to generations to come, supported by a monument raised in their honor.

“I thought, I’m getting on in years now, and if I don’t do something about it, the memory of these young men might be lost forever,” said Garrod.

A member of Michael Garrod’s team, talked about contacting relatives of the 10 airmen. He recalls their surprise and shock when hearing about their grandfathers or great uncles about whom they knew nothing more than the fact that they died while serving their country.

“I feel, as I suspect we all do, that we virtually know these guys as friends and what we did went some way to make their deaths more meaningful,” Hamer insisted.

The information they already had, started to make sense when the team contacted Robert Meli, a researcher who created a website together with his students, sharing personal stories about former Hackensack High School students who served in American wars. 1st Lt. Raymond Sachtleben’s name was among them.

“All these guys deserve to be at least respected and honored for what they have done,” said Meli.

From all the tiny details they manage to put together, they learned that 1st Lt. Raymond Sachtleben attended Newark College of Engineering; that he got his civilian pilot’s license in 1942, just before he enlisted. He was honored with the Purple Heart and Air Medal when he died.

He is buried near a blue pine tree, by his parents’ grave, where also rest his sister ans her husband.

The men’s name stay written on a black marble memorial plaque, outside Garveston village. They say it’s a quiet place where people can reflect and that next year they will add a bench.

The stories are now being told in Garveston on the “Garveston 12” website.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE