Perished at NAS Fort Lauderdale on February 3, 1944 while on a training flight.
Correspondence donated by Robert Donigian and Jean Franki (in behalf of the Tanelian family). Thank you to Katie Rasdorf, Researcher/Historian at History Flight: http://historyflight.com/ And to Craig Fuller, Aviation Archaeologist at Aviation Archaeology: http://www.aviationarchaeology.com
First impressions/observations from the correspondence of George Tanelian to his sister Rose, were the following: First thing we noticed on George's letter to his sister Rose, dated January 29, 1944: "If you ever need anymore (money) let me know before January 3. He scratches Jan(uary) and overwrites "Feb." It's interesting to note Navy records show that George Tanelian perished on February 3rd in an "airplane crash." Intuition or Premonition? We'll never know. Nine students at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale would perish in three separate aircraft crashes on that same day. It was the deadliest incident involving training aircraft at this naval base.
George Tanelian writes about life at NAS Fort Lauderdale, and training, and pairing up with a British pilot. He writes: "We're some combination, a British pilot, a Marine gunner, and a sailor radioman..."
- George writes about the way they were able to entertain while living at NASFL. He writes: "I saw the movie Ali Baba and the 40 thieves."
- George was of Armenian descent. While living at NAS Fort Lauderdale, he enjoyed reading: 40 days at Musa Dagh (an historical account of the Armenian massacre during the first world war).
- He was very upset about the news of Japanese soldiers killing prisoners in Bataan. "I'm burned about that" "I'll never trust a Jap" "If I get the upper hand, he's as good as dead" -- and finishes these heartbreaking thoughts with a flash-recognition of universal humanity: "that is the talk of this base..."
- Writes about his gunnery and torpedo runs, and is very proud of his progress in the Navy.
- He is very caring, and worries about his family, and is interested in his sister Rose's welfare. Rose is learning how to drive. He writes: "Don't forget to be careful when your learning how to drive." And "I'm your brother and I always want you to be happy, and you only can be happy by a good education and always one step ahead of the rest."
George Tanelian was born today, on 11 November 1925. He enlisted in the US Navy and served from March 31, 1943 to February 3, 1944. He trained in Memphis, Tennessee; Great Lakes, Illinois; Hollywood, Florida; and at NAS Fort Lauderdale, as a gunner on the Avenger aircraft. He was killed while training. Below, are photographs and correspondence from the family of George Tanelian.
- The following letter to Mrs. Tanelian was written by the father of CPL. Irving F. Whipple, who died in the same training plane with George:
UPDATE 12/27/14: Relatives of George Tanelian visited the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, thanks for sending the photos and great to meet you guys!