The Birks were in their home when they saw a flash through the window and heard an explosion. John Leonard of Long Hill Rd. was almost two miles away and said the explosion "looked just like Hiroshima". The date was July 17, 1959.
|FJ-3 Fury circa 1957|
Frazier had taken off from the Willow Grove, PA Naval Air Station on a routine flight in his single-seat FJ-3 Fury fighter jet. The air combat veteran was just looking to get some flight time in when something went horribly wrong. A marine hero of two wars, he was credited with downing 12 enemy planes in the South Pacific in World War II, and had also flown in Korea.
He was awarded the Navy Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation. The Lieutenant Colonel was also the commanding officer of his Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment.
Spectators and souvenir hunters flocked to the Birk's cornfield almost immediately. State troopers arrived quickly and tried to keep order. According to a report in The Courier News, Frazier's body was "blown to bits", with the largest intact piece being "an arm and shoulder, strapped in a parachute.
He was just 40 years old, and left a wife and four young children.