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John G. Thornell
Birth: May 5, 1886
Sidney
Fremont County
Iowa, USA
Death: Feb. 21, 1922
Norfolk
Norfolk City
Virginia, USA

United States Army Officer. He was the commander of the dirigible “USS Roma”. In 1920, the United States Air Service bought a semi-rigid dirigible from Italy. Named the “Roma”, it was 410' long. Its first flight in the United States was on November 15, 1921. Numerous other flights were made afterwards, but on almost all of them, its Ansaldo engines encountered difficulty. In February 1922 Major John Thornell, the original commanding officer of the Roma, was busy preparing for his new assignment to Washington D.C. but chose to fly one more time. During a flight at Norfolk, Virginia the “Roma's” nose structure collapsed, jamming its controls. The “Roma”, descending toward the ground, settled on wires which instantly ignited its flammable hydrogen gas in a tremendous explosion. At the time, it was the worst air disaster in the United States, and the tragedy revealed more than one twist of fate. Just before the airship took off with its crew of 34, Captain Dale Mabry, the ship’s commanding officer decided 11 more passengers could also come on board. These additional passengers were the only survivors - all 34 of the crew perished.  (bio by: Graveaddiction) 
 
Burial:
Sidney Cemetery
Sidney
Fremont County
Iowa, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Graveaddiction
Record added: Oct 26, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 8029980
John G. Thornell
Added by: Ashley (Killian) OBeck
 
John G. Thornell
Added by: kweaver
 
John G. Thornell
Added by: kweaver
 
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Never forgotten.
- Nancy Sheppard
 Added: Mar. 12, 2014
Major Thornell was a graduate of West Point Academy and a veteran of World War I. He continued his military career with the US Air Service. Some gave all. Remember those who served.
- kweaver
 Added: Aug. 3, 2013
God bless you today and always. Rest in Peace.
- Thelma
 Added: May. 8, 2013
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