Today in History – June 30, 1959 – Legendary F-100 Ishikawa crash into Elementary School in Okinawa.

30 June 1959– “The 1959 Okinawa F-100 55-3633A crash, also known as the Miyamori Elementary School crash, occurred on June 30, 1959, when a North American F-100 Super Sabre of the United States Air Force crashed in Ishikawa, in United States-occupied Okinawa, killing 18 people.

At 10:40 A.M., a United States Air Force F-100D Super Sabre, piloted by 34-year-old Captain John G. Schmitt, Jr., from Chalmers, Indiana, became uncontrollable during a training or test flight from Kadena Air Base located in the towns of Kadena and Chatan. Schmitt ejected from the aircraft, landing safely and unhurt. However, the F-100 crashed into Miyamori Elementary School and surrounding houses in the nearby city of Ishikawa, killing 11 students and 6 other people in the neighborhood, and injuring 210 others including 156 students at the school.

Immediately after the crash, troops of the armed police rushed to the accident site and worked on rescue operations. Most of the doctors residing in central Okinawa Island rushed to treat the victims. The fire caused by the accident was extinguished one hour later, with 27 buildings including 3 school buildings and 1 public building being destroyed, while 2 school buildings, 2 private houses and eight other buildings were half-destroyed. At the time of the accident, Miyamori Elementary School had about 1,000 children and teachers, with almost all children in the school taking a milk break at the end of the second hour of classes.

The US authorities determined that the defective F-100 had experienced an engine fire despite recently undergoing repairs in Taiwan, and that Schmitt had attempted to aim the aircraft at an unpopulated hilly area before ejecting.

In 1965, a memorial statue for the victims of the disaster was erected at the crash site in Ishikawa.

In 1976, a former student at Miyamori Elementary School died at the age of 23 from complications related to burns caused by the crash 17 years earlier. Their death brought the sum of people killed in the F-100 crash to 18, and their name was added to the monument in 2010.

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