On May 6th, 1981, Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA), tail number 328, call sign AGAR 23, took off from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. Along with the usual crewmembers, two of the flight crew’s wives had joined their husbands on this training mission. The Air Force had recently introduced a program to allow spouses to see firsthand the contributions their husbands and wives made to the military.
About an hour into the flight, AGAR 23 suffered a catastrophic failure and crashed near Walkersville, Maryland.
All those aboard were lost.
In the spring of 2017, former members of the 4950th Test Wing, AGAR 23’s home unit, met and decided to construct a marker to honor these men and women. They were soon joined by family members of those lost on the flight and many others who shared their vision.
In May of 2017, the City of Walkersville unanimously approved the construction of a Marker at the Heritage Farm Park.
A simple design was planned, modeled after, and was to mirror a similar tribute erected outside Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The memorial would feature a 10-by-10-foot concrete slab, a granite pedestal, and a bronze plaque listing the names of the 21 victims: 18 crew members from the Ohio base, two of their wives and a civilian electronics contractor.