Edward Apanel Jr., a 19-year old paratrooper from Palisades Park,
New Jersey, was injured seriously enough to warrant surgery on his legs. He was evacuated from the Celerina by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Ireland, and then to an Air Force Hospital in England prior to going to Frankfort, Germany. He was able to tell his story some two months after the crash, while participating in the Civil Aeronautics Board hearing on the disaster held at the International Hotel at Idewild Airport (now known as John F. Kennedy International) in New York City .
Pvt. Apanel said when boarding the plane at McGuire Air Base, he was seated next to stewardess Ruth Mudd, who perished in the crash. Miss Mudd, who lived in Browns Mills, N.J. told him during the preparation for ditching, which was believed to be highly unlikely to occur, that he was to break the emergency window over his head. That tip later proved to be decisive for this survival.
The Flying Tiger broke apart upon impact with the ferocious waves, losing a wing and opening a gap in the fuselage. Edward was pinned in his seat by the seat in front of him. He had only seconds to act. Upon pushing the seats apart, he was able to escape through that emergency window to swim out into the raging seas.
His mother, Mrs. Apanel, said her son told her that people screamed and floundered about the icy, storm tossed waters. Some grabbed at each other, some clung to floating equipment and luggage washed out of the plane, and some of the lucky ones were able to find and grab on to the lone overcrowded rubber raft. Ultimately packed with 51 passengers, it was the only raft with survivors. Three died on the raft before rescue by the Celerina.
While hospitalized in England after surgery on his extensive leg injuries, New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes and his wife, who were vacationing in Europe at the time, made a special side trip to visit the serviceman and arrived just as he was coming out of the operating room. Pvt. Apanel remembers the visit only vaguely as he had barley awoken from surgery at the time. None-the-less, he and his family were honored by such distinguished visitors as the Governor and his wife.
While attending the CAB hearing in New York, two months after the crash, he told his family that he would be jumping again in another month after returning to Germany.
At the time of this posting, we asked: “Anyone knowing any information about Ed Apenel before or after the crash, or his presence at this time are urged to notify him of this site and let us know for follow up.” His daughter provided us with contact information. He lives near Grand Junction, Colorado. We made contact.)