On the 21st of March, 1951, a C-124 led by Major Robert J. Bell of the 2nd Strategic Support Squadron departed Walker Airforce Base, stocked with aircrews and equipment from the 509th Bomber Group. the crafts intended destination was Lakenheath, England.
At 3:12am, they landed at Barksdale Airforce Base, in Shreveport, Louisiana where they remained throughout the night. On the following day, March 22nd, General Paul T. Cullen and his staff joined the other passengers and re-boarded the aircraft. BG Cullen was the commander of the newly established 7th Air Group assigned to England. The flight took off at 9:25am, landing in Loring Airforce base, in Limestone, Maine.
At 6am, on Friday the 23rd of March, the crew checked in with a British weather ship. The C-124 radio operator gave their position report, which was approximately 800 miles southwest of Ireland. Shortly thereafter, the C-124 gave out a Mayday call, reporting a fire in the cargo crates.
They began tossing the crates and announced they were ditching the craft. The aircraft was known to be intact when it touched down on the ocean. Every crew member was also known to have exited the aircraft safely, wearing life vest, and climbing into the 5 emergency life rafts that were onboard. The rafts were readily equipped with cold weather gear, food, water, flares, and hand crank emergency radios.
The USAF, stationed in England, launched a B-29 to search for the survivors. Captain Muller was the pilot in command. He located all of the men, finding them because of the flares they had fired. The B-29 was not carrying any rescue equipment that could be dropped to the survivors, so Captain Muller radioed back that he had found the men and would remain on site until proper rescue personnel had arrived. Muller continued circling the area, anxiously awaiting rescue aircraft to arrive but they never did. Upon reaching critically low fuel, Captain Muller was forced to abandon the men and return to base.
Ships remained unable to return to the position of the men until the following Sunday, March 25th, 1951. When the ships arrived all they found were charred cargo crates and a partially deflated life raft. Ships and planes continued searching for the next several days but not a single body was found. The men of C-124 completely disappeared.
It is known that Soviet submarines and surface vessels were active in this area and that the Soviets had no qualms about capturing and holding American servicemen, particularly aviators. Because of this, many believe that the men were captured by the Russians. However, we may never truly know the fate that befell these men.