At the dedication of the Long Creek Air Memorial in South Portland on Sunday, July 11, Vina Hannan Sawyer rings a bell in memory of James and Nancy Little, two children she tried to save while she herself was badly burned in the worst air disaster in Maine history. The granite memorial commemorates “those who died, were wounded, or had their lives forever changed” by the July 11, 1944, crash of the A-26 bomber piloted by Lt. Phillip “Phee” Russell. The plane went out of control just before landing and hit the ground and a trailer park built to provide temporary housing for shipyard workers. Russell and navigator Staff Sgt. Wallace Mifflin were killed along with 17 men, women and children on the ground.
Patti Anne Russell, center, holds a photo of her father, Lt. Philip Russell, at the Long Creek Air Memorial dedication on July 11. “Phee” Russell, as her father was known, was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the South Portland neighborhood 66 years ago.