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Aug-21-2010 05:55printcommentsVideo

WWII Documentary Unearthed: B-17 Plane Crash Sole Survivor's Story

'Fallen Fortress at Cape Lookout' was produced for Oregon PBS in 1993 and it hasn't been seen since, until now.

Crew of B-17 bomber that crashed at Oregon's Cape Lookout 2 August 1943
Crew of B-17 bomber that crashed at Oregon's Cape Lookout 2 August 1943.

(SALEM, Ore.) - World War Two bombardier Wilbur Perez's epic sole survival story of a violent deadly 200 mile per hour plane crash in 1943 that left nine men dead, has finally roared back to life.

B-17 Bombardier Lt. Wilbur Perez

The documentary included below in two video panels, represents a three year period during which my wife and co-producer Bonnie King and I, conducted research, located the survivor and key witnesses, brought them to the site of the actual crash 49 years after the fact, and finally achieved the completion of this half hour program.

It was created during a time when today's non linear editing programs were a dream for the future. Most people didn't even own a computer in 1991, '92 or '93, the year this program was completed and aired twice on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).

Second-Lieutenant Wilbur Perez, who grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, was the only one of ten men to ultimately survive the high speed crash 2 August 1943 into a 900 foot tall point of land on the rugged Oregon coast called Cape Lookout. It is a wild and picturesque place where nature lovers, whale watchers, and the occasional history buff, take in incredible sites and marvel at the ocean almost a thousand feet below.

While it had been written up in a couple of magazines and newspapers over the years, this incredible story of survival was not ever fully published, when we realized it would become our personal job to do so.

The rewards Bonnie and I personally experienced during this time- the immense gratitude of the three key men and their families who are shown, as well as many others who are related to the story- were very rich and memorable.

It is both an Oregon story and a national story, though it was specifically presented for people in this Northwest state. One party that we are happy to make it available for, is the son of Wilbur and Jerry (Maude) Perez and his family.

We also are currently in contact with the family of the medic who administered first aid for this officer and gave the crash survivor a much needed morphine shot. Being able to include this gentleman's memories in a new version of this program is a tantalizing idea.

Like so many other stories, we have learned a great deal about this crash in the seventeen years that have passed since it aired on OPB.

While unearthing this program, I can't help but think of the first person who made it possible, that is our Director of Photography, Dave Pastor of Cannon Beach. He and his wife Susie Pastor also became very engrossed in this story, as we did, and Dave pitched in and helped us shoot this at a time when television cameras were very expensive and more challenging to operate. He did a fantastic job shooting it.

It is a big deal for us to finally get this program uploaded onto the Web for people to see. I have planned for many years to reproduce it with a modern edge and a lot of missing information that we now possess. Hopefully this is the first step toward that.

Special thanks to the Sypes family at Teletek Video, my former TV station boss Roger Robertson, and everyone else who helped us achieve this dream so much longer ago than it seems.

Those who have information on this story can contact me at the email address below. Here are links to previous Salem-News.com stories about the Cape Lookout Crash and the late Wilbur Perez:

Apr-06-2009: Sole Survivor of Cape Lookout B-17 Crash in WWII, Wilbur Perez, Dies - Tim King Salem-News.com

Aug-02-2008: Today is the Sixty Fifth Anniversary of Oregon's Cape Lookout B-17 Bomber Crash - Tim King Salem-News.com

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Steve West September 14, 2016 9:41 am (Pacific time)

My wife and I just discovered this story while hiking the Cape Lookout trail this past weekend. We have lived in Oregon 35 years and are WWII history enthusiasts but had never known this story. Thanks so much for documenting this long forgotten story of these men and Oregon's WWII history.


steve gooder April 1, 2015 3:03 pm (Pacific time)

i just watched ...loved it thank you so much..my father was a gunner on a Pb4y-2 in the Navy ,then on a b-29 and b-36 . i am gathering info on his service and came across this so thanks again ...steve


Brandon White. March 27, 2014 1:49 am (Pacific time)

Hey composer, did this B-17 have an identity like a Tail number ? Get professional or bug out !

Easy Brandon, the plane's number was 42-30326, not something I have to look up at all, sorry I neglected to include that.  I am happy to answer any questions.

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