Korean War Veterans Honor Roll

Francis Joseph McSwiggan

Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate,
United States Navy

Squadron VP-3


Died June 1, 1950
Buried at: Beverly National Cemetery
                  Beverly NJ

CHIEF MACHINIST'S MATE FRANCIS JOSEPH MCSWIGGAN was born in Philadelphia PA on March 11, 1916 to Francis James and Margaret Genevieve Ryan McSwiggan. The family in 1920 lived at 5627 Stewart Street in Philadelphia.  The elder McSwiggan worked as a postal clerk. The family moved to New Jersey sometime after 1922. Francis Joseph McSwiggan attended Catholic Schools in Camden and Pennsauken NJ, where the family had moved to by 1930. By this time the family was living on River Road in the Delaware Gardens section of Pennsauken. Francis Joseph McSwiggan graduated from Camden Catholic High School in Camden NJ in 1933. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1935.

A career Navy man, Frank McSwiggan served during World War II. By 1950, he had married, and made his home with wife Evelyn in Jacksonville FL, where he was stationed at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Chief McSwiggan was serving with Squadron VP-3, flying the P2 Neptune patrol bomber. On a training mission from Jacksonville to Argentia, Newfoundland his plane, #122454, made a stop in Rhode Island at Naval Air Station Quonset. Shortly after take-off from Quonset, the plane developed engine trouble. An engine caught fire, and the plane crashed while attempting an emergency landing, Nine crewmen, including Chief McSwiggan, were killed, four others were seriously injured.

Frank McSwiggan was survived by his wife, of Jacksonville FL, his mother, who had moved to 2823 Carman Street in Camden NJ, a brother, William, and three sisters, Nancy, Margaret, and Mary. He was buried at Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly NJ on June 7, 1950.   

Camden Courier-Post
July 30, 1941

Hotel Walt Whitman
Mrs. Mae Ford
Cooper Street
Margaret McSwiggan
Carman Street
Bertha Hunsberger
Newton Avenue
Goldie Tarken
Baird Boulevard
Alice Harris
Clinton Harris
Nellie Dix
Harold DIx
Ethel Down
Ada Kuhs

VP-3 Squadron Mishap History

Mishaps --- 01 JUN 50 A/C: P2V-2 P Neptune Location: NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island Strike: Yes Deaths: 9/killed, 4/serious, 3/minor BUNO: 122454 Cause: Single engine emergency crash landing Contributed by Terry [03APR98]

UPDATE "...P2V-2: 122454; Gear & Left wing sheared off landing resulting in fire; Crew: Pilot.Cmdr. Gilbert J.Fravenheim/Seriously inj, Lt(jg). H.A.Hamberg/Minor inj, Ens. D.M.Arter/Killed, Ens. C.R.Plank/Killed, Mid. C.A.Payne/Killed, ADL. J.A.Seger/Killed, ALC. H.D.Thomas/Killed, AO1. P.Rapanick/Killed, ADC. F.J.McSwiggan/Killed, and 2/seriously inj..." Contributed by Terry [03JAN2001]

UPDATE VP-3 Mishap Photo ThumbnailCamera "...Nine crewmembers of VP-3 were killed when this P2V-2 (BuNo. 122454) crashed at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island on 1 June 1950. (Photo courtesy National Archives)..." Contributed by Title: Lockheed P2V Neptune An Illustrated History by Wayne Mutza...A Schiffer Military History Book...ISBN: 0-7643-0151-9...286 pages full of pictures and history!
Amazon Associate LOGOOrdering Information: Lockheed P2V Neptune An Illustrated History

UPDATE "...My father, Frank W. Evans, was Leading Chief of VP-3. We were stationed at NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone (1948/49). The squadron was transferred to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in 1950. My father had been scheduled to leave on manouvers with the squadron but his medical condition prompted the medics to deny him flight clearance. It turned out to be a fateful decision. As Leading Chief, he would have flown on the lead plane along with the CO. That plane, on landing, was caught by a cross wind and flipped over, killing all aboard except the CO. As I recall, the CO, I cannot remember his name, wasn't much good after that. He couldn't understand why he had been spared while the rest of the crew had perished. My dad's "MOS" was Aviation Machinist's Mate. Although I never entered the service, I did serve a Machinist Apprenticeship and became a Journeyman Machinist. I had a ball as a "Navy Brat" and much enjoyed living in Panama, Seattle, NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and elsewhere. By the way, my dad was on the opening team when NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania was opened. I have many fond memories of my childhood as a Sailor's son..." Contributed by Richard Evans

UPDATE "Rich checked further on the mishap...I was only about 11 yrs old at the time. As I mentioned, I believe the VP-3 squadron had been re-assigned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida. We travelled from Panama on the USS Butner, an old Military transport ship. We arrived at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Lived in barracks on the base until housing became available. I remember we lived in low, cinderblock constructed houses. There was a large grassy area behind the houses with concrete ditches running through it. There were little wooden bridges crossing these ditches here and there. I remember the squadron was to go on manouvers in Argentia, NF, I believe. But Dad had been suffering from diabetes and hardening of arteries. The medics denied him flight clearance. The squadron departed without him. I recall Dad took it pretty hard since he had many friends on the ill fated plane. He had been the Leading Chief of VP3. As stated, his MOS was Aviation Machinist Mate. Not remembering exactly, I always assumed he had been Chief of Maintenance or something like that. We only stayed in Jax for about six months. Dad was re-assigned to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland NATC. He worked in Base Security for awhile. I remember he was also Secretary of the Chief's Club. A job he relished, no doubt. Later on, before he retired to Vineland, NJ, he spent a considerable time in Bethesda Naval Hospital....." Contributed by Richard Evans

UPDATE "THE CRASH OF MB-1 AND SOME VP-3 NOTES" Contributed by Vincent A. Dauro [21MAY98]

On 1 Jun 1950, P2V-2 BuNO 122454 attached to VP-3 crashed on landing at NAS Quonset Point, RI. VP-3 was based at NAS Jacksonville, Fla and was enroute to advanced base temporary duty at Argentia, Newfoundland.

Her plane captain, who was killed in the crash, had a premonition that something was wrong with her and had grounded her near the middle of May. When he grounded her, she was given a major 240 hour check followed by a test flight. Nothing unusual was found.

On the morning of June 1, the skipper CDR Gil Fraunheim, and copilot LTJG Hal Hamberg with crew #1, and some other personnel, took off from Quonset for the flight to Argentia. She had almost a full load of gas and was carrying the Squadron's Classified documents in bomb bay trays. She was also carrying luggage and personal effects of all aboard. They were to be gone from Jacksonville for 2 months.

At about a half hour out, the starboard engine quit forcing a return to Quonset Point for an emergency landing. Maximum gross weight of the P2V-2 was 64000 lbs. Single engine weight about 56000 lbs. She was close to 62000 lbs when the engine quit.

As she was heavier than single engine weight, the skipper had trouble maintaining level flight returning. He decided that he could make it to the runway without dropping the bomb bay trays or baggage.

GCA was set up on the wrong runway and the landing was downwind instead of into the wind. Making a straight in approach, he was about 10-15 kts fast on the glide slope. This was squadron SOP. The ceiling was about 250 feet and on breaking contact, he floated and touched down briefly about half way down the runway and bounced back into the air.

We did not have nose wheel steering on the P2V-2 and normally would not use reverse pitch for stopping after a single engine landing. It was speculated that the port prop was inadvertently placed into reverse while she was still above ground causing a wing to drop and contact the runway. She flipped over and hit upside down. She caught on fire; over 2000 gallons of gas on board. During the slide out, she turned 180 degrees and ended with her nose pointed into the wind. This saved the pilots as it blew the flames away from the cockpit. A Quonset enlisted man, ran to the scene and helped them out through the broken windshield. I do not remember which wing hit, but it broke at the fuselage, folded over, and after she stopped both engines were together. As I remember, the pilots were the only survivors. Since this was a squadron movement, 11 (maybe 12) others were on board.

Her navigator was a Midshipman who replaced me. He had not been with the squadron very long and normally a more experienced 2nd copilot would be aboard. He was to be commissioned when they reached Argentia.

I had been assigned as part of her crew in May. My log shows my last flight in her was on 15 May 1950. I would normally have been aboard as 2nd copilot and navigator, but was going to be released to inactive duty on 30 June. I was an Ensign at this time, an ex-Midshipman under the Hollaway Plan, and was going back to college. There were several of us in the squadron in this category. ENS Stokes, Sproull, DiFonzo and me. We had been commissioned in 1949, and were not selected for retention in the regular Navy.

Rather than carry us to Argentia for 2 weeks, we were transferred to FASRON 109 at Jacksonville for temporary duty until separation. We were given the job of notifying the next of kin. Most had already heard the news on radio and TV.

I was assigned the plane captain's widow and went out with the Chaplain and a Doctor as she was in bad health. She was extremely mad at the Navy for "Making her husband fly in an unsafe airplane". Later an investigation was held. Nothing significant was found and no conclusion was reached. I do not remember reading the accident report as the Korean War began on 25 June while we were in the separation center at Jax and things were hectic after we rejoined VP-3.

As a matter of interest, Gil was a good pilot, and his copilot Hal was one of the best. Hal had been an All American football player. He had played quarterback at the Naval Academy and was intelligent and coordinated..."

Camden Courier-Post - June 6, 1950