Memorial Day services scheduled for Park City and Summit County
Park City will continue its tradition of presenting annual Memorial Day celebration at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 27, at Park City Cemetery on Kearns Boulevard.
The event will start off by honoring the men and women who died while fighting for the United States with a ceremony at 9 a.m. presented by American Legion Post 14.
Members of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office honor guard will present the flag. Another member will play bagpipes, and another will play “Taps” on a bugle, according to historican Steve Leatham, who, along with fellow historian David Nichoilas, will also pay tribute to a B-18 bomber that crashed into Iron Mountain on Nov. 17, 1941.
Their tribute, which will follow the presentation of the flag, will focus on the plane and crew, and will remember the deaths of Maj. Robert E. L. Pirtle, the flight commander of the 88th Squadron, and Sgt. Jack D. Anderson, the flight’s engineer.
It will also honor those who survived the crash — pilot, 1st Lt. William E. Basye, co-pilot and 2nd Lt. Mabry Simmons, passengers 2nd Lt. C.A. Smith,, Staff Sgt. Eugene V. Bynum, and the radioman Pfc. Raymond L. Torgerson.
“Last year, we dedicated some plaques to the airmen who were involved in the crash,” Leatham said. “This year, we will have a Boy Scout troop put some flowers at the memorial wall, where the plaques are.”
The Commemorative Air Force will close the ceremony with a flyover, according to Nicholas.
Nicholas and Leatham, along with Park City Museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison, will head over to the Squatter’s Roadhouse Grill at 10 a.m. for a dedication of a new memorial plaque to honor the B-18 crash, Leatham said. The plaque will be presented in partnership with American Legion Post 14 and Park City Municipal, he said.
“We selected Squatter’s, because after the plane flew over Park City, it circled back above where Squatters now stands,” Leatham said. “Eyewitnesses saw the plane fly over the area before crashing in Iron Mountain, and Maj. Purdle’s body was found on the hill, just east of Squatter’s.”
At the time, there were three establishments where Squatters now stands — two coffee shops and a car dealership, Nicholas said.
“The plane took its final plunge into Iron Mountain, after flying over those establishments,” he said.
The ceremony at Squatter’s will begin with a welcome on the restaurant’s back patio.
“We expect about 30 family members of the crew to be in attendance,” Leathan said.
A Boy Scout troop will present the colors and the Park City Treble Makers will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Father Bob Bussen will give an invocation, and Morrison will talk about the sign and its significance.
The plaque adds to the stories that the Park City Historical Society, which runs the museum, has told all around town, Morrison said.
“We have a number of different plaques that honor Park City history that we’ve been setting up since 1984,” she said. “There are many plaques on Main Street that tell the history of the buildings.”
The society has since expanded the program and has placed plaques at the ski resorts and on historic mining structures, Morrison said.
“This just adds to our program to get stories out of the museum and into the public,” she said.
Rory Murphy, a paratrooper who served in the Airborne Corps, will follow Morrison and tell the B-18’s story, Nicholas said.
“Rory has parachuted from planes, and he will give a unique perspective of the courage it took for the men to bail from the plane that night,” Nicholas said.
The ceremony will continue with the reading of “High Flight,” a poem written by John Gillespie Magee Jr., a British Airman who flew during World War II.
The plaque will be unveiled after the poem, Leatham said.
“When we finish there, we will head to Rotary Park for a picnic where the family members will get a chance to mingle,” he said.
In addition to the Park City ceremony, six North Summit cemeteries will also host Memorial Day services. The events will be presented by American Legion Post 93.
The schedule is as follows:
- 8 a.m. — Wanship
- 8:30 a.m. — Hoytsville
- 9:15 a.m. — Henefer
- 9:45 a.m. — Echo
- 10:35 a.m. — Upton
- Noon — Coalville
There will be a brief ceremony at each location consisting of three volleys of rifle fire, the playing of “Taps” and a patriotic program.
The services will culminate at the Coalville Cemetery at noon with the lowering of the American flag to half-staff. Hot dogs and drinks will be served at the Coalville gathering.
As a prelude to the Memorial Day ceremonies, Leatham and Nicholas will give an updated presentation about the B-18 crash at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, at the Park City Museum’s Education and Collections Center, 2079 Sidewinder Drive. The event is free and open to the public.
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