Walter
M.
Bunting


WALTER MILLS BUNTING was born in Camden, New Jersey on March 23, 1894 to Elwood C. Bunting and his wife, the former Maudelena Hess. He was the second of four children, coming after William and before Raymond and Marguerite. Elwood and Maud Bunting had moved to 1718 Ferry Avenue by the time the 1891 Camden City Directory was compiled, They lived there into 1900, then moved to 515 Van Hook Street, where they remained until the late 1920s. They were Episcopalians and members of the Church of Our Saviour on Broadway, where Walter and his siblings were baptized. The Bunting children most likely went to school at the John W. Mickle School at South 6th and Van Hook Streets, across the street from the family home. Walter Bunting then attended and graduated from Camden Manual Training and High School at Haddon and Newton Avenues. This school became a junior high school after the present Camden High opened in 1919.

Walter Bunting was working at the DuPont gunpowder plant at Carney's Point, New Jersey when he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service. He married Lillian Thomas Scotten before going off to the Army. Walter Bunting learned to fly and became an aerial inspector. He was preparing to go to France when the war ended. Walter Bunting remained in the Army after the war ended. The 1920 Census shows that Second Lieutenant Walter Bunting was stationed at the Camp Harry J. James Military Post at Douglas, Arizona where he was serving as am member of the United States Army Border Air Patrol, which had been organized in July of 1919 to put an end to Mexican bandit raids along the border, using World War I vintage DeHaviland DH-4 aircraft. 

After being discharged from the Army, Walter Browning was determined to keep flying, and took a position with United States Aerial Mail Service on November 15, 1920. The Aerial Mail Service also used DH-4s, which had been modified to carry mail.

Walter Bunting was assigned a regular route which took him from Omaha, Nebraska to Salt Lake City, Utah and began flying this route on December 1, 1920. The aircraft he flew was a DeHaviland DH-4, a model which first saw service during World War I.

Long distance flying across the plains and into the Rockies was a dangerous proposition, especially in well-worn planes with no radio or anything vaguely resembling modern navigation equipment. Walter Bunting survived a crash in December of 1920 and another in April of 1921, and a forced landing at the end of that month. He did not survive a third crash, on May 5th 1921, at Rock Springs, Wyoming. It was the fifth fatality involving the crash of a Mail Service DH-4 that year. Initial reports stated that Walter Bunting was killed when the plane exploded, but subsequent investigation revealed that he had been killed on impact and that his body was burned after he had died. 

The official account states that on May 5, 1921, Walter M. Bunting was killed while coming in for a landing at Rock Springs, Wyoming, when his airplane dove into the ground. He was 50' in the air as he passed the hangar, and his motor sounded fine according to witnesses. One witness stated that "the airplane was being climbed too steeply to get speed quickly and therefore when he made his first turn he lost some 50'. He continued to climb after turning and when his airplane was up about 150' it seemed to have a slight miss but apparently revved up good." Bunting banked too much and went into a steep spin from which he could not recover. Bunting's widow, Mrs. Lilliam T. Bunting of Carney's Point, New Jersey, was awarded the standard $35 per month compensation for as long as she remained unmarried. 

Letters recovered from the crash had explanatory slips placed in them and were forwarded if possible. The slips read:

This letter salvaged from Air Mail airplane which was destroyed by fire at Rock Springs, Wyoming, May 5, 1921

POSTMASTER,
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Walter Bunting's body was returned to New Jersey. He was survived by his wife, his parents, brothers William J. and Raymond J. Bunting, and a sister, Marguerite Bunting, and a nephew, Raymond Walter Bunting. Tragically, Raymond Walter Bunting was also killed in a plane crash while serving with the United States Navy in November of 1942, and a first cousin, Second Lieutenant Bruce R. Bunting, was killed in action serving with the United States Army Air Force while on a bombing mission in Italy on September 10, 1944.

World War I Draft Card


Walter M. Bunting - 1917-1918

 

Walter M. Bunting
Undated Photo

 


Walter M. Bunting
Undated Photo

 


DeHaviland DH-4

Telegram regarding Plane Crash
December 27, 1920


Wyoming State Tribune - Cheyenne, Wyoming
December 29, 1920


Omaha World Herald - April 4, 1921


Wyoming State Tribune - Cheyenne, Wyoming - May 5, 1921


Twin Falls News
Twin Falls, Idaho
May 5, 1921


Denver Post - May 5, 1921


Denver Post
May 6, 1921


 

 

 

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 6, 1921

Elwood Bunting
Van Hook Street
Camden Manual Training and High School

 

 

 

 


 


Omaha World Herald - May 7, 1921


Omaha World Herald - May 8, 1921

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