GEORGE G. JEFFRIES, JR., LT, USN

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Lucky Bag

From the 1948-A Lucky Bag:

1948 Jeffries LB.jpg

George Garfield Jefferies, Jr.

Frostburg, Maryland

Big Savage Mountain's addition to the Naval Academy came in the form of tall, curly-headed Jeff. Although he had never played lacrosse before, Jeff took up the game and his gusto and vigor soon overcame the lack of previous experience. Academics were never much of a strain for him, so most of his study hours were spent figuring out ways to have an exciting week end, and it took plenty of figuring, too! Jeff's easygoing nature and inherent ability to have a good time made him an asset to any party. It was all to the Fleet's advantage when June Week made him an ensign in the United States Navy.

George was on the lacrosse team. He graduated with the class of 1948-A, the last of the wartime-accelerated classes, in June 1947. (The bottom half of the class by academic standing, designated 1948-B, completed an extra year and graduated in June 1948.)

Obituary

From Find A Grave:

Cumberland Times, Sunday February 21, 1956

FROSTBURG FLIER, KILLED IN CRASH, CITED AS A HERO

Mayor of Louisiana City Says Many Alive Because of Jeffries

The parents of Lt. George G. Jeffries Jr. of Frostburg, who was killed in a Navy place crash at Lake Charles, La., received the following telegram last night from Mayor Sidney L. Gray of that city.

"I am humbly aware that no words of sympathy can possibly lessen your grief over the loss of your son, Navy Lt. George Garfield Jeffries, who died last night (Friday) in order that a number of his fellow humans might live, but the grateful city of Lake Charles would like you to know what he did.

"Last night the Navy plane piloted by your son crashed in a vacant field near the southeast edge of this city. Your son had ample time to abandon his ship and save his own life by so doing. If he had chosen to bail out, as ordered, his place would most certainly have fallen into a very thickly populated residential section of our city.

"There is no doubt but that a number of men, women and children are alive today because your son chose to sacrifice his life. I can only hope that it is some consolation to you in your time of sorrow to know that Lt. Jeffries made this most difficult choice, and that the 50,000 citizens of the City of Lake Charles realize his sacrifice and are most humbly grateful."

An Associated Press dispatch from Lake Charles, La., told yesterday how a heroic Navy flier from Frostburg elected to go down with his F6F plane rather than bail out, in the hope the craft would clear the city, which has a population of 50, 000.

The pilot was identified as Lt. Geroge Garfield Jeffries Jr., 28, son of Mr. and Mrs. George G. Jeffries, Depot Street. His charred body was pulled from the wreckage. Lt. Jeffries, acting as an instructor at Kingsville, Air Base near Corpus Christi, Texas, since returning from active duty in Korea, was on a routine flight Friday night to Macdill AFB, Tampa, Fla., when his fighter plane developed engine trouble.

From radio reports, an accompanying plane and ground witnesses, this was the story.

The two planes, with the second piloted by Lt. Walter H. Maddox circled the area from 7:20 p.m. when the engine trouble developed, until the crash, between 8:12 and 8:15 p.m. Friday.

At 16,000 feet Jeffries radioed "loosing altitude fast." At 8:08 p.m. he radioed he was down to 8,000 feet with his engine almost dead. Maddox told Jeffries to bail out at 5,000 feet, but Jeffries replied that there was an overcast at 3,400 feet and he wanted to see what was below and would try to bail out at 2,500.

At 8:13 he reported he was at 2,500 and approaching a large city from the west and would try to make Lake Charles AFB, east of the city. When he saw he couldn't make the landing field, he said he would try to bail out at 500 feet.

Witnesses said he came out of the overcast, dipped his wings first to one side and then to the other to get a better look at the terrain. When he saw he couldn't make the landing field and might go down in the city, he changed directions and headed for a rice field.

He would have made a belly landing, but a 10 foot embankment on an abandoned irrigation canal was too high. His plane crashed and burst into flames.

Born in Frostburg July 24, 1925, he graduated from Beall High School in 1941 and enlisted under the V-12 program. Following training he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and completed the four-year course in three years, graduating in 1947.

Lt. Jeffries served one and one half years on the U.S.S. St. Paul in China area as gunner officer and while aboard ship received word he had been accepted for flight training. He went to Pensacola Field in 1949. Following a training period there he went to Quonset Point, and was assigned to a squadron. He served aboard the carrier Roosevelt for eight months in the Mediterranean and later with the carrier Wasp in the South America area.

Lt. Jeffries went to Korea with his squadron where he served eight months on the carrier Bon Homme Richard, making 64 missions over the battle area. His plane was damaged on 11 missions. He returned to the United States and was named instructor.

Surviving are his parents and two sisters, Mrs. Robert Barnes and Mrs. Mark A. Felton, both of Garden City, Long Island. Charles S. Jeffries is an uncle. The body will be brought back to Frostburg for burial.


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Class of 1948
George is one of 46 members of the Class of 1948 in Memorial Hall.
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