TOWN OF FISHKILL – Saturday afternoon at the Town of Fishkill War
Memorial Park, a special ceremony was held to honor the “Mt. Beacon
Eight;” the eight were groups of six and two U.S. Naval officers
who, in separate plane crashes, lost their lives within a stone’s
throw of each other on Mt. Beacon during peace-time travels.
Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the crash that claimed the lives
of the six officers – Commodore Dixie Kiefer, Commander Dr. Ignatious
Zeilinski, Lt. Lloyd Heinzen, Lt. Jr. Hugo “Hans” Kohler,
Aviation Machinist Clarence Hooper and Seaman First Class David Wood’s
The other two officers who were honored as part of the eight, Lt. Lincoln
C. Denton and Aviation Mate Clinton E. Hart, were lost on September 14th,
1935. This would be the 80th anniversary of their deaths, although, not
to the day.
Of those men who had lost their lives, one who stands out in shear historical
importance was Commodore Dixie Kiefer, who was a decorated war hero having
survived a number of Japanese Kamikaze attacks, despite being injured.
He was known to be a truly progressive, as well as inspirational officer.
Fishkill Town Supervisor Robert LaColla said the event was a great example
of the entire community coming together to honor national heroes who had
lost their lives, but many had forgotten about.
“This is, to me, is what community is all about,” said LaColla.
“You have somebody who comes up with an idea, engages a bunch of
groups, including the local government and comes up with a ceremony like
this and brings out veterans, brings out community members and honors
people that should be remembered for their contributions. I think it was
a great event.”
The “somebody” LaColla is speaking of is David Rocco. Rocco
and his organization, Friends of the Mt. Beacon Eight, set up the event
and have even been fundraising for a memorial to be erected, across from
the Town of Fishkill War Memorial within the park, in honor of the Mt.
Beacon Eight. Rocco said they would also like to have indication of the
crash site put up on Mt. Beacon.
“We’d like to get this done, the monument at least, by Memorial
Day of next year so they have another ceremony, prior to the anniversary,
the following November and again, we’d like to get the markers put
up on the trail site, which should be a little easier to get done,”
said Rocco. “The beauty of it is, this beautiful memorial park that
Fishkill has here, which very few people knew about, is directly across
the sight line from the ridge where the plane crashed in 1945. So, what
they want to do, on top of the monument, is put a compass and we have
the GPS coordinates; so, you can actually, once we get it done, we have
a sight vision from here to the crash site and that’s, I think,
a very cool thing.”
Rocco said that they hope to raise at least $1,500 for the Mt. Beacon
Due to the community turnout and enthusiasm of local officials, Fishkill
plans to hold a ceremony every year from now on to honor the lives of
the Mt. Beacon Eight.