“There, but for the Grace of God.,,,”
Lt. Robert A. Walt was thanking his lucky stars that day.
In early 1945, he went to South America on a special ferrying mission in an Army C-47.
If he had not been a helicopter pilot he would not have been recalled last month from his post as copilot of an Army plane that was attached to a “geodetic mission” in South America. The plane was found last week in a desolate region near Telegrini, Argentina, where is had crashed, bringing death to its 14 occupants.
The name of the crashed plane was “Escape”. It was U.S. Army Air Corps C-47, No. 8602 and assigned to the 7th Geodetic Squadron. All helicopter pilots of this squadron were ordered back to the United States in November. Lt. Walt had been attached to the squadron for nine months.
The plane had crashed between Asuncion and Montevideo, Paraguay, on Dec 3, 1945 while on a return flight to the United States. There had been no radio contact with the ship since shortly after the takeoff when the pilot, Lt. Orville Michelson, reported that he was flying into a storm. On board the plane was Special Agent Jeremiah Cordes Delworth , presently serving as the FBI Legal Attaché to the American Embassy in Asuncion and eight members of the U.S. Army Geodetic Commission. (It is believed that Delworth was undercover with Special Intelligence Service which was a covert counterintelligence branch of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) located in South America during World War II.)
Lt. Walt was relieved from active duty November 20, 1945, and was home on terminal leave when the C-47 crash occurred. He was transferred to the Air Force Reserves and later promoted to 1st Lt. He was discharged in 1958.
2nd Lt. Robert A. Walt, was in the first helicopter class to graduate from Chanute Field on Jan 27, 1945, after the school had been transferred from Freeman Field, Indiana, in 1944. He received certificates of completion in the course, plus the department’s “Kollege of Kopter Knowledge” diploma along with 2nd Lts. Joseph D. Phillips and Granville H. Wright and eight enlisted men who commenced the course there, December 1944.
Information for this story was submitted May 2013 by Barb Vuckovich, daughter of Robert Walt.