Remembering their heroes: A total of 27 relatives of the 17 airmen who were killed in a plane crash 50 years ago attended a memorial service at St Peter’s Church on Sunday. *Photo supplied
Remembering their heroes: A total of 27 relatives of the 17 airmen who were killed in a plane crash 50 years ago attended a memorial service at St Peter’s Church on Sunday. *Photo supplied
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The families of those killed in one of Bermuda’s worst air disasters have marked the 50th anniversary of the tragedy on the island.

A total of 27 relatives of the 17 airmen that died in the crash attended a memorial service at St Peter’s Church on Sunday — 50 years to the day since two air force planes collided off St David’s.

The group then sailed out to the spot where the planes plummeted into the water to drop a wreath into the ocean.

Mike Belter, whose father, Lowell ‘Mick’ Belter, was one of the men to perish in the accident, organized the trip.

Mr Belter told the Bermuda Sun: “It was a pretty emotional day for everyone.

“Everyone in the group shed a tear at one point. It was a little traumatic.

“With the help of local diver Graham Maddocks, as well as Bill Adams, who was one of the first rescuers on the scene, we were able to pinpoint the area where the planes would have gone into the ocean.

“And for us to be able to drop a wreath at that exact location was significant for a lot of us.”

During the group’s visit, they met with Governor George Fergusson as well as US Consul General Bob Settje.

The service at St Peter’s Church on Sunday was conducted by Reverend David Rath and included several readings by the relatives themselves.

Mr Belter said: “I think that a lot of the relatives got a sense of closure from this trip and at the same time made friends that they will now keep for life.

“For many of us it was about finding more out about what happened and speaking to other people who had gone through similar ordeals to us over the last five decades.

“Amongst our group were two men who witnessed the crash and we were able to hear what they saw that day.

“The trip accomplished a lot of the things that we set out to achieve and I hope we will be back in Bermuda soon.

“We were treated very well wherever we went and would like to extend our gratitude to everyone for their acts of kindness while we were here.”

Mr Maddocks and his team of divers will continue to look for the two downed aircraft in the coming months.

The group of relatives have also put together a time capsule of letters that are currently being held with the National Museum.

They hope that one day the capsule will be anchored to the seabed where the planes came to rest. 

Julie Carleton, whose father Larry, died in the 1964 crash, added: "It was a wonderful trip - informative and enlightening regarding the crash 50 years ago.

"It was a very Rewarding experience for myself and family members to come to Bermuda and meet the other children and families.

"We are Grateful for the support of the people in Bermuda including governor and wife, US Consul general, private citizens like Graham, coverage by the Bermuda Sun, and other entities that helped make this happen.

"I hope to build ongoing relationships with all and return to Bermuda regularly in the future."