Bombing the Lighthouse

During the Easton Waterfowl Festival, I did a book signing of Death at the Lighthouse at the Easton News Center. There were a lot out of town visitors there and I told many of them the story of the real lighthouse the book was based on.

The Holland Bar Light (Which I called the Devils Elbow Light in the book) was the scene of the mysterious death of lighthouse keeper Ulman Owens in 1931, but in 1957, the lighthouse was accidentally bombed by three Navy Skyraiders on a target practice mission gone wrong. No one was hurt, but the dummy bombs did some structural damage and shook up the then light keeper.

I was telling this tale to one visitor and he called over a woman who turned out to be the wife of one of the pilots! She said her husband had come from Atlantic City, but had been ordered to land at Patuxent NAS after the incident. The three pilots were court-marshaled, but received only reprimands. The light keeper remarked that people have shot at thelight before, but this was the first time anyone hit it.

The moral to the story is that unlikely coincidences can pop up at when you least expect them.