A Site History Project for The Texas A&M University System's RELLIS Campus

Bonfire Crash

College Station, Nov. 20 (Associated Press) – A Kingsville Navy training plane exploded over the Texas A&M College campus here tonight, killing two occupants of the plane and spraying parts of the campus with wreckage.

The victims were Marine Captain Thomas Pryor, 24, of San Francisco; and Robert Anthony Verducco, naval aviation cadet, 22, of Laredo, TX.

Officials at Bryan Air Force Base said the propeller-driven T28 was from Kingsville Naval Auxiliary Air Station. It had been refueled at Bryan and taken off shortly before the crash.

The plane wreckage fell in a muddy field about 1/4 mile southwest of the campus after several persons heard an explosion.

Debris from the craft fell over portions of the campus jammed with students guarding a traditional bonfire that precedes the A&M - Texas football game.

A part of the plane identified as coming from either the tail assembly or wing fell near the bonfire.

There were no reports of students injured.

The public information office at Bryan AFB said the plane landed there early today and took off again at 7:18 p.m. The crash was reported at 7:34 p.m.

Dr. Joe West, a young graduate student in the A&M School of Veterinary Medicine, was eye-witness to the above tragedy, which took place following the A&M vs. Texas freshman football game at Kyle Field earlier the same day.

 

Dr. Joe West is a former Aggie yell leader who served as a clinical pathologist with the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory for 18 years. After graduating from Texas A&M in 1954, Joe spent 22 years as a U.S. Air Force veterinarian specializing in radiation biology. Included in his service history was time spent at Nellis Air Force Base near the Nevada Test Site where dozens of above- and below-ground nuclear detonations occurred. He retired from the Air Force at the rank of colonel. Joe is a former Texas Veterinarian of the Year, as well as a past president of the Brazos Valley A&M Club, a Distinguished Alumnus, and a member of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor.