THIERRY, Jess (1921-1949), Marine flier from West Virginia who was killed on March 2, 1949 when his fighter plane crashed into Santa Cruz Island on the northwest side during a storm. The plane was one of three Marine craft which disappeared in the storm. The rescue party was taken to the island by a PT boat from Point Mugu.
In the News~
March 3, 1949 [SBNP]: “A rescue party of 10 Marines and Navy men late last night were reported still scaling the rugged 1900-foot mountain peak on the northwestern end of Santa Cruz Island to recover the body of Capt. Jess Thierry, Jr. The body of Thierry, 27-year-old Marine flier, was sighted on the peak by a Navy plane Friday beside his wrecked fighter plane. The plane was one of three Marine craft which disappeared in the storm Wednesday. The rescue party started up the rugged, trackless peak at dawn yesterday. A Navy plane circled over the spot to guide them to it. A Navy doctor flew in on the peak by helicopter but was unable to make positive identification of the body because of its badly burned condition, according to Major Frank Smith, El Toro Marine Base public relations officer. Identification was made, however, through serial numbers on the wreckage which checked with the plane Captain Thierry was flying. The rescue party was taken to the island by a PT boat from Point Mugu.”
March 5, 1949 [SBNP]: “Body of missing lier found by plane wreckage. The body of a Marine Corps fighter pilot, one of three missing since Wednesday,. was found near the wreckage of his plane on Santa Cruz Island late yesterday, the Navy Rescue coordination Center at San Diego reported to El Toro Marine Air Station. The flier was identified as Capt. Jess Thierry, 27, of Huntington, W. Va. He had been living at Costa Mesa where he leaves his widow, Dale. The body was found by a marine who landed near the crash scene in a helicopter. The wreckage was spotted earlier in the day from the air and the sight of an open parachute near the plane offered a slim hope the pilot still lived. But it is now believed that the parachute had not opened in time, assuming that Capt. Thierry attempted to bail out. His plane and two other planes were based at El Toro. Search for the other two ships turned, meanwhile, to San Antonio peak, near Palm Springs, and to the Mojave Desert.”
March 5, 1949 [Long Beach Press Telegram]: “Flier's Body Hunted on Peak. Ground party goes to get victim of air crash on Santa Cruz. Ground search parties fought through timber and brush today up a rugged 1900-foot peak of precipitous Santa Cruz Island seeking to recover the body of Capt. Jess. Thierry Jr., 27, of Costa Mesa, apparently killed Wednesday afternoon when his Corsair fighter plane crashed. His body was sighted in the wreckage of his demolished craft late yesterday and ground parties put out at dawn today to scale the peak. No attempt will be made to salvage the plane, described as "completely demolished." Capt. Jess Thierry, separated from his squadron during heavy weather Wednesday afternoon while on fleet tactical maneuvers, failed to return to the Santa Ana Marine Corps Air Station, his home base, after radio instructions at 4 p.m. that day. He apparently crashed soon afterwards. His streamed parachute partly covered his plane and body, indicating he had been thrown from the plane when it plowed into the mountainside.”
March 5, 1949 [San Bernardino Sun]: “...Three fighters were missing from El Toro base the same day. The third was found Friday on Santa Cruz Island, 20 miles off the mainland. Body of the pilot, Capt. Jess Thierry, Jr., 27, Huntington, W. Va., with a partly opened parachute, was found nearby. The aircraft were on training flights.”
March 7, 1949 [Madera Tribune]: “...Meanwhile, the body of Capt. Jess Thierry, Jr., 27, Huntington, W. Va., whose Corsair also crashed Wednesday afternoon was taken from Santa Cruz Island to the Long Beach Naval hospital. His plane disappeared when caught on a formation flight in a storm.”