Alfred Bodung: First Sergeant tells a dramatic story . . .

Sergeant First Class Alfred Bodung was one of the 17 survivors airlifted to Cork hospitals by helicopter from the Celerina off Galley Head point. The Cork Examiner reported his story:

“Sergeant First Class Alfred Bodung, 35, married, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was lucky enough to escape with nothing more serious than a scalp injury also had a dramatic story to tell.

“I was sitting toward the rear of the aircraft on the right-hand side,” he said, “and when the crash came, the seat behind me crushed into my seat. I was thrown forward and hit my head on the seat in front. When I picked myself up, there was water in the plane and there very few people left in it. I made for the rear door, but it was almost under water and I had to dive under and swim out from under the plane.

“When I surfaced, I didn’t know which side of the plane the rafts were. I swam around the tail of the plane and saw a raft about 25 yards away. I swam toward it and clambered on to it, helped by those who were already in it.”

“We were lying on top of each other in the raft and that’s where most of the bruises came from. Pretty soon a plane came around and droppe3d flares and we knew that we were spotted. The sea was rough. 10 to 15 foot high waves.”

Describing the last moments in the plane, Bodung said that before the crash the passengers were instructed to take off their shoes and put on life jackets.

“There was no panic,” he said he two children were sitting in front of me, but I did not see them on the raft afterwards. A sergeant sitting opposite me was supposed to look after them. He got knocked out and didn’t know anything until he was pulled out. I didn’t see the children get out.”

A story from a tattered, graphic men’s magazine several months after the crash had this to report:

“Bodung was alert, worried. He had cleared his pockets of his fountain pen and pencil, otherwise, he said, they could be as lethal as daggers when the plane  hit the sea. Then he remembered and whipped out his false teeth. A man might be choked by his dentures in a violent crash. Opposite him, the woman with the two children looked at him and he said, “Don’t worry lady, everything will be okay. . .”

[This editor has been unable to find any more information about Sgt. Bodung through newspaper archive searches or people finder programs. He is reported on the list of passengers in the New York Times as being from Indianapolis, Indiana rather than Kenosha, Wisconsin. Indianapolis was the home town of his wife, Sophie, who was staying with family when Sgt. Bodung left.]

About Fred Caruso

Survivor of the crash of Flying Tiger 923. at night, at sea, 500 miles off the west coast of Ireland, with 28 deaths and 48 survivors, September 23, 1962.
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One Response to Alfred Bodung: First Sergeant tells a dramatic story . . .

  1. Patricia Leonard says:

    Another fascinating story. I continue to be amazed at the composure so many soldiers seemed to have before the crash…the result of their training? The woman with two children though, what was going through her mind?

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