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Historical Marker Placed At Site Of Hindenburg Explosion

May 10, 1988

LAKEHURST, N.J. (AP) _ Despite misgivings among officials about honoring a Nazi airship, a historical marker now designates the spot where the Hindenburg exploded and crashed 51 years ago, killing 36 people.

″There was some political hesitancy,″ Ocean County Freeholder George Buckwald said after Monday’s dedication. ″But we felt it was time to forget the politics and view it as an historic occasion.″

Several hundred people gathered for a ceremony last year marking the 50th anniversary of the crash. The freeholders - county supervisors - paid for a marker at the site, a field at what is now the Naval Air Engineering Center.

The plaque was to be dedicated Friday, the 51st anniversary of the May 6, 1937, tragedy. But the service was postponed by rain until Monday, the 52nd anniversary of the Hindenburg’s first flight into the United States.

The bronze marker, set in pink granite, is surrounded by a concrete walkway in an elliptical shape similar to the Hindenburg’s outline. Several dozen people attended the dedication ceremony.

″It’s a Navy tradition that when we make a ship a memorial, we put a plaque on the bridge,″ said Capt. James R. Macdonald, commanding officer at the engineering center. ″In this spot is where the bridge, or the control car, on the Hindenburg came to rest.

″They should have done this a long time ago,″ said John Iannaccone, who was in the Hindenburg’s ground crew on the fateful day. ″Everybody who comes here wants to know where it happened. Now they can see where it happened.″

Iannaccone and several others at the dedication brought small pieces of the 804-foot Hindenburg’s charred aluminum alloy frame.

The Hindenburg was filled with highly flammable hydrogen instead of fire- proof helium, a rare commodity that the U.S. government would not willingly share with Germany.

Investigations indicated the probable cause of the explosion was a hydrogen leak in the aft part of the ship, complicated by thunderstorms and static discharge from the landing lines dragging on the ground below.

Nick Grand, a spokesman for the Naval Air Engineering Center, said final details have not been worked out on allowing the public onto the secured base to see the memorial.

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