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John Gray Thornell
Birth: May 5, 1886
Fremont County
Iowa, USA
Death: Feb. 21, 1922
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) 
Family links: 
  Andrew B. Thornell (1846 - 1932)
  Olive Barbara Gray Thornell (1857 - 1927)
  Sue Thornell Barnes (1879 - 1937)*
  Andrew V Thornell (1881 - 1944)*
  John Gray Thornell (1886 - 1922)
  Phillip Thornell (1889 - 1889)*
  Kent Hampden Thornell (1891 - 1974)*
  Mary Helen Thornell (1892 - 1892)*
*Calculated relationship
Sidney Cemetery
Fremont County
Iowa, USA
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Graveaddiction
Record added: Oct 26, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 8029980
John Gray Thornell
Added by: Ashley (Killian) OBeck
John Gray Thornell
Added by: kweaver
John Gray Thornell
Added by: kweaver
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