Robert B. Stewart – Lieutenant, United States Navy


WASHNGTON, June 23, 1948 – President and Mrs. Truman and their daughter, Margaret, attended the funeral today of Robert B. Stewart, 27-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Earle Stewart, who was killed in the crash of a United Airline plane that took the lives of 43 persons last week in Pennsylvania.

The Stewarts are old friends of the Truman family and also of John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury, who was among the pallbearers.  The funeral service was held in the chapel at Fort Myer, Virginia, and the burial of the ashes was in Arlington National Cemetery.  The youth has been a Lieutenant in the Navy during the war.

The plane was a Douglas DC-6 which was on a scheduled flight from Chicago to New York City with 39 passengers and a crew of 4.  It crashed at Mr. Carmel, Pennsyvlania, at 12:41 P.M. on June 17, 1948.

The plane crashed after an in-flight fire in the cargo hold. The crew discharged carbon dioxide extinguishers into the cargo hold in response to the fire warning. When the plane's nose was lowered for an emergency descent, the carbon dioxide, being heavier than air, accumulated in the cockpit and asphyxiated the crew. The aircraft crashed through high voltage lines and exploded on a hillside. After the crashes of 10/24/47 and 11/11/47, were a design flaw allowed vented fuel to enter the intake for the cabin heating system, the CAA also ordered carbon dioxide extinguishers installed. Earl Carroll, U.S. theatrical impresario killed. Douglas aircraft company knew of the carbon dioxide danger after two of its test pilots were almost overcome during test flights. They suppressed reports to the CAA which resulted in only a warning being added to the flight manual. The aircraft was named Mainliner Utah.

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