John Estel - Ensign
John's father, Edward Estel, raised him and his two sisters in Waterloo, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science, John worked for the Pittsburgh Des Moines Steel Company. His father had graduated from Iowa State back in 1910.
John enlisted in Des Moines, Iowa (date unknown). Just ten days prior to his death, he reported to the new Naval Air Station in Ottumwa, Iowa as an instructor.
On July 1, 1943 Ensign Estel and another Ensign named Zimberg, were doing a routine V-hop in a navy training plane. As instructors, they were required to perform this routine flight every month. Their plane, however, crashed near Fremont, Iowa. Both died. Estel was 29, and Zimberg was 21.
The boy scouts of Waterloo Iowa formed an honor guard during Este''s military funeral services at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A naval escort took Zimberg's body back home to Yonkers, New York.
"This was the first fatality in the station's 112 days of flight operations," said Captain Bradford Ed Grow, the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station.