I am the youngest of eight children and the
only girl. We were spread out over 21 years and my oldest
brother, Jess Edward MONTGOMERY, was already in the Air Force
training for World War II when I was born. He went
on to become a highly decorated pilot in both World War II and
later was a member of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). As you
might guess, he was a hero to his little sister -- always flying
in to see us in a shiny
jet plane wearing his handsome uniform. But more than that, he
was a loving
and warm big brother to me and I adored him. During his last
tour in Italy
in March of 1960, Ed was killed in a peace-time plane crash at
age 38. I had
just turned 18 and was just about to graduate from high school.
All of my brothers and I attended the same
high school, Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis,
Indiana. Tech was originally built as a Civil War arsenal and has
a beautiful campus of 76 acres with many of the original 1860s
buildings still in use today. The enrollment is huge and was even
larger back in the 1930s and 1940s with 5,000-6,000 students
attending at the same time. My brother Ed graduated from Tech in the class
of 1939 and I came along in the class of 1960.
Last summer I created an alumni Web site for the school and it is
becoming very popular. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a
man who graduated in the class of 1939. I asked if he might
possibly remember my brother, but with such a huge enrollment back
then, he did not. However, he did have an old friend who had also
gone to Tech and went on to become a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force, BG Clyde "Mac"
McClain. My new friend wrote to his old friend and mentioned my
brother Ed Montgomery.
A few days later I received a long message from BG McClain, who is
now 80 years old. He told me the story of being stationed with the
USAF in Italy in March of 1960 and getting a call that an old
classmate of his had just landed on base and would like to see
him. The old classmate was my brother Ed and the two friends spent
the afternoon touring the base and reminiscing. Ed was invited to stay with his friend and his family
for the next two days and they had a wonderful time -- touring a
little in the nearby small Italian towns, playing bridge, dining
in the Officers' Club and just relaxing. Then they went to see Ed
off as he left to return to his base in southern Italy. The next
thing they heard was that Ed's plane was missing and then shortly
afterward that, yes, all on board were killed instantly when the
plane rammed a mountain top in a blinding snowstorm.
How absolutely incredible it is to me that with all the millions
of people on Earth today, and after more than 40 years, I would
finally hear such a detailed and loving personal story of the last
two days of my brother's life being spent with old friends. It
gives me and my surviving family a wonderful feeling of peace and
thanksgiving to know after all these years that Ed's final few
days were lived in such a happy way.
I've created a webpage about BG McClain on the Tech Alumni site. (url
is below). Quite a man and I'm blessed to know him.