Today in Sanford History (TSH), Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Ramey died when his A3D Sky Warrior crashed during a training exercise near Crescent City. It was June 2, 1958.
The 34-year-old Ramey was an officer at the Sanford Naval Air Station (NAS) attached to Heavy Attack Squadron Eleven (VAH1-11), Heavy Attack Wing One.
Ramey was piloting the jet-powered bomber when there was an onboard explosion over Seville, a small town about 7 miles south of Crescent City.
The explosion blew off the aircraft’s tail, which crashed near two Seville homes that were then destroyed by fire. Debris from the explosion scattered over a wide area, and a portion of the wing severely damaged the town’s A.M.E. church according to the Putnam County Courier.
Ramey remained at the controls and guided the crippled aircraft away from a residential area before crashing to earth. He died on impact, but his decision to stay with the aircraft gave his 2 crew members, Raymond H. Hite and Daniel N. Gerbis, time to escape the cockpit. Both parachuted to safety and received only minor injuries. No one else was injured in the crash.
On Feb. 6, 1959, the Navy honored Ramey by dedicating NAS Sanford as Ramey Field.