Off-duty USAF CMSgt. survives B-17 crash and saves another despite injuries

A hero has emerged from the tragic crash of the World War II B-17G in Connecticut, bringing some measure of positivity to an otherwise terrible loss.

Chief Master Sergeant James M. Traficante, a US Air National Guardsman who was one of the thirteen people aboard the aircraft for a $500 per seat charity flight when it sustained engine problems shortly after takeoff, was responsible for saving Army/Air Force veteran Mitch Melton from the flaming wreck.

Chief Master Sgt. James M. Traficante

Traficante, who had enough fortuitous foresight to bring his issued Nomex gloves with him on the flight despite being off-duty, soon found that he had made the right decision- his gloves offered him adequate protection needed to open the hatch on the plane, allowing survivors to escape.

Dragging Melton from the wreck, Traficante then focused on his own injuries.

“He suffered injuries and was transported to Hartford Hospital for treatment,” the Connecticut Air National Guard wrote in a statement. He was released yesterday evening and continues to recover at home.”

Traficante began his Air Force career in 1984, and has worked as a crew chief, loadmaster and flight engineer.

The CTANG has asked that the press and public allow Traficante some degree of privacy as he recovers from the incident.

According to the Daily Mail, Melton suffered broken ribs and had to have surgery to repair a bleed in his liver, but is expected to survive.

The plane had 10 passengers and three crew members on board. Of the thirteen on board, only six people survived. Three were critically hurt, and two others on the ground, including a firefighter, were also injured.

“Chief Master Sgt. James M. Traficante serves as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the 103rd Airlift Wing, Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut,” according to the Air Force.  “As command chief, he is the senior enlisted advisor to the commander and staff on matters of health, morale, welfare and professional development of more than nine hundred Air National Guard enlisted personnel assigned to the wing.”

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