HARVARD — Memories of a tragedy that exploded in the skies over northern Clay County more than seven decades ago returned to the fore here Monday as the community paid tribute to the 14 U.S. servicemen who lost their lives.
Around 75 people attended afternoon ceremonies dedicating a new Nebraska state historical marker commemorating the midair collision of three B-17F bombers returning to the Harvard Army Air Field from a training mission on Aug. 28, 1943.
Harvard Mayor Michael Boyd said the marker, located in the Harvard Veterans Memorial Park, will preserve the story of the airmen's deaths for future generations of area residents.
"It is my hope that years from now, their memory and their sacrifice will still be on the minds of those who call Harvard home," Boyd said.
The Harvard Army Air Base, located on 1,759 acres two miles northeast of town, operated from December 1942 to May 1946. It was one of 12 Army Air Forces training fields located across Nebraska during World War II.
The Harvard base was a training ground for B-17, B-24 and later B-29 bomber flight and ground crews. Thousands of young soldiers from across the United States spent part of their service stationed there.