Capt. Roger Holland Blake, USAF

Roger Holland Blake (1921-1952) was born October 15, 1921. His father, a World War I aviator, was attending RI State College at the time. Roger graduated from Aldrich High School in 1939. and left college after one year to enlist in the Army Air Corps on May 1, 1942. He flew with the Air Transport Command until leaving active duty in 1946. In 1949 he volunteered to return to active duty, getting back in the Air Force just in time to fly in the final days of the Berlin Airlift. In 1951 the Air Force established a special unit at Eglin AFB, Florida. Its mission was to operate obsolete aircraft (mostly B-17 Flying Fortress bombers) as radio-controlled aerial targets for various tests. Captain Blake was assigned to that squadron as a pilot; his crew’s job was to guide the target drones during the missile and rocket tests. On August 25, 1952, a rocket fired by the pilot of an F-86D Sabre jet, the Air Force’s newest all-weather fighter, hit the director B-17 instead of the drone, sending the manned aircraft spinning in flames into the Gulf of Mexico. Two of the eight crew members survived by parachuting into the sea. Captain Roger H Blake, 30, was on the list of six missing. His remains were never recovered. A plaque at Eglin Air Force base is dedicated to the six crew members who were killed in this incident, honoring those who “Gave their lives to their country in furtherance of the mission of the United States Air Force.”

  • More in 2017:

  • More in Special Recognition Award:

  • More in US Air Force:

  • Find this interesting? Share it!

    Help Us Continue to Honor RI's Aviation History.

    Please consider a tax-deductible gift to help support our efforts.