Skip to comments.[NAS Corpus Christi, Texas] T-34 accident kills instructor, student
Posted on 01/28/2006 7:21:11 AM PST by SwinneySwitch
Freeport man is identified by his family
A Navy flight instructor and student were killed Friday when their training plane crashed three miles south of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
The single-propeller T-34 crashed into a field off Yorktown Boulevard between Linda Lee Road and Madison Street at 9:43 a.m. The T-34C craft, assigned to Training Squadron 27, crashed while conducting routine flight training, said Lt. j.g. Sean Robertson, public affairs officer with the Naval Air Training Command. The pilot's and student's names were not released, pending notification of their families.
But relatives identified one of those killed as Raul David Jimenez, 31, formerly of Freeport, according to The (Brazosport) Facts.
"He loved the service and flying," his mother, Elva Verrett, told The Facts. "The Lord blessed me with a real special son. That was his dream. That was always his dream. I was so proud of him because he accomplished what he always wanted in his life."
Robertson said he had no details on the investigation and wouldn't speculate about a cause. The squadron has suspended operations, he said.
Verrett said she was worried when her son told her he wanted to go Annapolis, but he soothed her.
"He said, 'I can be sleeping by your side, mom, and if I'm going to die, I'm going to die.' I told him, 'just go ahead, you have my blessing.'"
Jimenez and his wife, Laura, were married in July 2004. They have no children.
"We've just lost a fine young man, and that's the bottom line," said Freeport Mayor James Phillips, who was principal at Brazosport High School part of the time that Jimenez was a student. "It just shows, military service has its risks. This was what he wanted to do. So I guess there's a positive factor to it - at least he was doing what he wanted to do."
Jimenez was in the band, on student council and played baseball before he left for the U.S. Naval Academy and later flew helicopters during the early stages of the war on terrorism, Phillips said.
Friday's accident was the second accident involving a T-34 this month. One assigned to the same training squadron crashed Jan. 12 in the flats by the Oso Creek mud bridge, near Yorktown Boulevard, southwest of Waldron Road. Neither the instructor nor student pilot were injured in that crash. That crash remains under investigation.
Navy officials cordoned off Friday's crash site, and interviewed neighbors about what they saw. Corpus Christi Police directed traffic off a stretch of Yorktown between Linda Lee and Waldron.
Nika Miller said she had just stepped outside her grandmother's house on Linda Lee to smoke when she saw, "a plane going nose-down into the ground."
Across the street, Ernest Cavazos was eating breakfast when he heard it.
"All I heard was a plane going by. Then it sounded like it was sputtering. I didn't pay much attention to it," he said. "Then I heard a loud thump."
Next door, the noise woke up Roy Harlow.
He went to his third-story balcony, where he could see the downed plane 200 yards behind his house.
"There was a pretty good fire in two places and a couple of small explosions," he said.
David Torres said the Navy is always flying low over the houses in his neighborhood and should buy out the residents if it wants to continue to do dangerous training.
Helen Williams, also a Linda Lee resident, said, "He was a hell of a pilot, avoiding all these houses."
Harlow said he wasn't worried about the nearby flight training, adding his concrete house was safe.
"The Navy's got a job to do. They've got to train their pilots," Harlow said.
But Lynn Hudler said the area's getting more populated, and that increases her concern about crashes.
"I hadn't been (concerned) until today," she said. "This one was a little close, too close."
Contact Beth Wilson at 886-3748 or wilsonb@ caller.com.
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off this South Texas/Mexico ping list.
Hope this wasn't another structural failure. If it is, then the T-34 owners might as well hoist their planes up as gate guards.
Prayers and condolences to the families of courageous men.
Maybe rocket scientist Torres should think twice about moving into a neighborhood that didn't exist when Waldron Field was established in the 40s.
Still get tears, Wings-n-Wind.
Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!
Mary C. D. Hamilton (1915)
Oh, Watchful Father who dost keep
Eternal vigil while we sleep
Guide those who navigate on high
Who through grave unknown perils fly,
Receive our oft-repeated prayer
For those in peril in the air.
Emma Mayhew Whiting (1943)
I wonder which was there first, the airfield or the houses. I'll wager it was the airfield, but having only been to Corpus once, I don't know.
I went thru in late '61. What a fun bird the "Teenie Weenie" was/is. Propjet now! What a hoot that must be to fly!
Wasn't there in the '40's, but I imagine it was only marshy grassland!
By Beth Wilson Caller-Times January 29, 2006
Bugle notes filled Hangar 42 at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on Saturday as two Navy pilots who died Friday were remembered as heroes.
Lt. Raul David Jimenez, 31, of Freeport and his student pilot, Ensign Jeremy Lee Drag, 24, of Millington, Ill., died Friday when their T-34C plane crashed during a routine training flight about 9:45 a.m. off Yorktown Boulevard, three miles south of the base.
Navy officials confirmed the names of the pilots Saturday while continuing to investigate the crash.
HM-15 Commanding Officer Cmdr. George Parisi told those gathered for a NJROTC drill competition the two pilots were heroes training for future defense of our country.
"There is not a better platform than all you right here to honor them," he said.
Parisi served with Jimenez in the HM-15 squadron before Jimenez transferred about a year ago to the training wing. "You only send your best pilots to go instruct others," he said, alluding to Jimenez's skills.
He said Jimenez came early, stayed late, was athletic and cared about the enlisted sailors.
Parisi notified his squadron of the deaths Friday and said they were understandably upset. But, Parisi said, Jimenez "was the type of individual, he didn't want us to mourn."
Glenn Heath, a former editor of The Facts, the newspaper covering Jimenez's hometown of Freeport, said he directed Jimenez to ask his congressman for a recommendation to the Naval Academy when he was in high school.
"David had all his life wanted to be in the Navy and wanted to be a pilot," he said.
The crash is the second of its kind this month. Another plane crashed Jan. 12 in the flats by the Oso Creek mud bridge. Neither the instructor nor the student pilot were injured in that crash. Investigations into that crash are ongoing.
I've done the a- & -b's. Never got a chance at the -c. Really would like it I'm sure.
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