Betsy's Visit to Suriname April 2008

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Traveling to what was then Dutch Guiana were Judy Dally Woodard, whose father, Cpt. B. Dally, was the pilot of the C-54. Betsy Cowan's grandfather was Maj. Eric Knight.

The ATC flew from Washington to Florida to Belem to Dakar

Dave Edhard, Surinamese film maker, invited us to visit the site of the crash of the C-54 which blew up on its way to North Africa, Jan. 15, 1943. On board were secret documents, a large sum of American currency and 35 people. This was at the time the worst air disaster in North American aviation history. There were no survivors.

 In 1943 when the plane crashed, Judy was 5 and I was not yet born. We both felt we must travel to the place where our loved ones had perished, giving their lives in service to their country. Over the years we had joked about making a trip just like this. When the wonderfully exciting opportunity to travel to Suriname was presented to Judy and me, we immediately said, "Yes!"

Betsy (l) and Judy (r) on the Commewejne River
Photo by D. Edhard





Judy not only held on to this flag for 60 years, but packed it in her carry-on during the long flight from the US to Suriname. We unfurl it over a pile of wreckage still remaining at the crash site.

Flag from Ceremony held in St. Louis, MO 1948
Photo by R. de Klein

I think back to what happened, and what might have been...

Photo by D. Edhard

So beautiful... and so serene today

Photo by B. Cowan

Out of the Skies, into my Heart

Photo by B. Cowan

Wing from tail #42-32939
Taken Jan. 16, 1943 by crash investigators.

A plaque honoring the 35 men who died was unveiled April 30, 2008 at Bakkie (Reynsdorp), the nearest village to the crash site. I am interviewed by the local media.


I have been researching this plane crash for over 15 years and have two file drawers of crash reports, eyewitness reports, information on some of the men who died and other photographs. If you are an interested relative or have comments, feel free to contact me. Please visit my website on the crash Jan. 15, 1943.

You may get in touch with me at

Click below to view video I took on the Matapica Kreek - by mistake. I didn't even know my camera could do that!

click here to play video

Here are some websites you may find interesting:

Betsy's website on the plane crash.

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