Edmonton airport site of 1965 warplane bombing

Don Clarke, a former Edmonton police officer, poses for a photo near the aviation museum in...

Don Clarke, a former Edmonton police officer, poses for a photo near the aviation museum in Edmonton. (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

Catherine Griwkowsky, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Like many nights on patrol, Const. Don Clarke was riding in the passenger seat of a patrol car on a blustery, pitch-black night.

Jan. 28, 1965 was a slow night, until 2 a.m.

As the patrol officers drove past the Edmonton Industrial Airport along Kingsway Avenue, Clarke saw flames shooting in the air.

Little did he know on that night nearly 50 years ago, Edmonton was the site of American warplane bombing by a German immigrant opposed to the Vietnam war. Little did he know an airport guard was about to be shot dead.

“My immediate reaction was, probably damn old kids out in the middle of the airport at 2 a.m.,” Clarke said.

As a policeman, his job was to figure out what was doing on.

In those days, access to what was then Northwest Industries airport maintenance at the Edmonton Industrial Airport was limited. Clarke’s partner Pete drove to the only car access at 127 Street and 127 Avenue as Clarke hopped over the fence, his pants nearly ripped by barbed wire.

He ran across the tarmac, only a flashlight illuminating his path, stumbling over what he later learned were pieces of three F-84 jets blown up with stolen dynamite.

As he got closer to the scene, the light of the fire illuminated the burning aircraft.

With no radio, he ran towards the guard shack to call his detachment for back up.

“My thought is to run over to the guard shack and talk to the guard to begin with and use the phone, though it did strike me, how come he isn’t out where he should be with all this fire going on,” Clarke said.

When he opened the door, he saw the guard, Threnton Richardson, laying on his back with his arms folded over his chest “almost peaceful like.”

“My first thought — that’s a hell of a place to be falling asleep on the floor like that,” Clarke recalled.


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