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Herman Archer

No. 6335466 February 1930 - 30 December 1951

Died: Air Crash 60 miles NE of Phoenix, AZ 

Interred: Hollywood Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA

Herman Archer was born in Chicago, IL, on 6 Feb 1930, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Archer. The family moved to the Los Angeles area after Herman graduated from Lane Technical High School in Chicago. At Lane Tech, he was active in various clubs and won a scholarship award. He was a premed student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he played freshman basketball before enlisting in the Regular Army. He then received a Regular Army appointment to West Point and joined the Corps of Cadets on 5 Jul 1950.


We always knew him as “Bruno.” I don’t recall the origin of his nickname. Perhaps he brought it with him from his youth in Chicago. I was fortunate to have known him since our days together at Stewart Field, Newburgh, NY, where the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School was located at that time. We were both Regular Army privates first class and played together on the Prep School basketball team. He frequently mentioned Lane Tech as a basketball powerhouse in Chicago, runner-up for the 1947 City Championship, and was proud of his time there. He was a scrappy starter, while I was on the bench most of the time. I still remember him at late night poker games on an Army blanket in the Day Room. The games

were long and the stakes were low, with our eighty bucks a month pay at risk. Bruno was intent on getting into West Point and playing for the Brave Old Army Team. It really drove him. He did play intramural basketball during his short time in the Corps.


He accomplished the first objective, entering the Academy with our Class of 1954. I was privileged to be his roommate for his time at the Academy. His pursuit of a slot on the team was never fulfilled, as he met a tragic and untimely death on 30 Dec 1951 in the crash of the Air Force C-47 carrying him and 18

other cadets (eleven from the Class of 1954) back from Christmas leave in California. As a result of bad weather and navigational instrument problems, the C-47 hit the side of

Armer Mountain, northeast of Phoenix, AZ, at 6500 feet. There were no survivors.


On 5 Jan 1952, the Superintendent, MG Frederick Irving, issued General Order Number 13, Announcement of Death, which stated:


It is the sad duty of the Superintendent to announce the death of Cadet Herman Archer, a member of the Class of 1954, United States Corps of Cadets, whose death occurred in an aircraft accident in the State of Arizona on 30 Dec 1951. Throughout his cadetship at West Point, Cadet Archer was a most popular and highly regarded member of his class. He at all times justified his appointment to the United States Military Academy and was in all respects a credit to the Corps

of Cadets.



The Superintendent, personally and in behalf of the Corps of Cadets, the Officers and Enlisted Men of the United States Military Academy, desires to convey to the bereaved parents

and relatives of Cadet Archer, the sincere condolences of all

at West Point who knew this splendid young gentleman. His

regrettable and unfortunate demise is a very definite loss to this institution and to the United States Army.


Those of us who knew Bruno well will concur with that opinion. He was a fine man just starting on his chosen career in the profession of arms.


His roommate, Ike Coron


At 1528, MAJ Lester G. Carlson reported that he was descending to 8,000 feet but could not receive the Perryville fan marker signal due to receiver problems.

In reality, he was well beyond that fan marker.

Nonetheless, he was instructed to descend to 6,000 feet to the Phoenix Range Station.

Carlson’s last contact was at 1534, when he reported descending through 7,000 feet.

Four minutes later, AF 6266 slammed into the side of Armer Mountain at 6,500 feet, approximately 50 miles northeast of Williams AFB. Searchers did not find the wreck until two days after the crash.

excerpt reprinted from Tragedy at Armer Mountain: The Crash of AF 6266, by Virginia A. McConnell, TAPS, January/February 2005

Originally published in TAPS, SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2008

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