Haverhill to Honor U.S. Navy Ensign McLaughlin Who Died in Crash Protecting Residents

A worker from Atwood Memorial guides into place monument to U.S. Navy Ensign Robert E. McLaughlin at Cashman Field. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill is getting ready to formally honor U.S. Navy Ensign Robert E. McLaughlin who gave his life steering his crippled plane away from a densely populated neighborhood during the waning days of World War II

As WHAV first reported last August, Haverhill native McLaughlin was a 22-year-old pilot who was making a “farewell salute” to his mother and father who were watching from their Lafayette Square home. According to a news report at the time, “Flying at a low attitude as he circled the area in which his home was located, the young naval pilot was on a training naval flight, preparatory to receiving his commission as a second lieutenant, when his plane was suddenly seen to go into a dive as he ‘waved’ with his wings to his family to identify himself.” During the setting of a monument last summer at Cashman Park, Veterans Services Director Jeffrey C. Hollett told WHAV about the Nov. 4, 1944 crash of McLaughlin’s F4U-1D Corsair.

“When he blew a piston—which is what they believed caused the problem—the Corsair was full loaded, weaponized, and he was flying out we believe to Portsmouth, N.H., or Kittery, Maine. The engine blew and, instead of bailing out of the plane, he guided the plan, which was very crippled, to Cashman sandlot where he tried to land it up on the sandlot. He could have bailed out. Instead, he stayed with the plane to try to keep it from hitting residential areas,” Hollett said.

Hollett noted, McLaughlin “saved countless innocent civilian lives.” He said the crash site is now a residential area on Kathy Drive, off Hilldale Avenue.

The public is invited to the Ensign Robert E. McLaughlin Memorial Dedication Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 2pm at Cashman Park on Hilldale Ave in Haverhill. Hollett said city officials agreed to locate the monument at Cashman’s Park where the memorial is angled in such a way that the plaque faces into Cashman’s Park and the stone faces towards the original crash site.

Comments are closed.