(March 19, 1943) – 2nd Lt. Robert Turchette was killed aboard a bomber that crashed Friday afternoon in
Little Rock, Ark.
His family was notified Saturday morning.
On Sunday they received a telegram from Robert’s commanding officer stating that he had been among those definitely killed in the crash.
The flier’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Turchette of
Nutley Avenue and his sister Jacqueline, who was 18 last Saturday, expected him home shortly for a visit, but the pressure of Army duties had delayed his furlough.
It would have been his first since joining the Air Force shortly after the attack on
His mother remarked that he was strongly incensed over the Japanese attack. Although she was reluctant to see him go, she couldn’t stand in his way. “You wouldn’t want me to stay home, mother,” he said, “you wouldn’t want that kind of a son.”
Robert, the eighth local war casualty, always liked planes and made many model planes as a youngster.
When the Turchettes moved to
Nutley nine months ago, Robert’s mother wrote him asking what she should do with his large supply of model airplanes. He wrote back to give them to other boys who were interested in them.
Aside from airplanes, Robert’s other great love was music. He was an accomplished pianist, and he practiced incessantly. He loved classical music, and he regularly attended concerts at Carnegie Hall.
He was such an enthusiastic admirer of Horowitz, the gifted pianist, that he sometimes followed him out of
New York to attend his recitals.
“Music to him was like another life,” his mother said. “Once he took me to Carnegie Hall and I saw him trembling all over as he listened to the music. And I could understand his great love for it. It lifted him to a life above our own.”
Robert developed not only his own interest in music but encouraged his sister, Jacqueline, of whom he was very fond, to develop her talents as a pianist and accordionist. He often wrote her urging her to practice as much as she could. Once he wrote: “I’m dying to hear you play.”
His interest in music created a conflict as to his future life work owing to his equally great enthusiasm for airplanes.
He finally decided to earn a livelihood in the latter field, and in 1939, following his graduation from Barringer High in
Newark, he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study plane designing.
He was in the middle of his sophomore year when he decided to enlist in the Army.
His letters home, his mother said, were masterpieces of prose. He would write not only of his work, but also of the cloud formations, the canyons and the mountains over which he flew.
Lt. Turchette was very fond of dogs and his particular favorite was Tipple, a scion of a line of police dogs and
With the current goings on, Tipple seems to sense that something is wrong. But like the little toy dog in Eugene Field’s “Little Boy Blue,” he patiently sits back and awaits his master’s return.
Mrs. Turchette said that she has received letters and visits from hundreds of people, many of whom she never knew before now. “They have all be very kind,” she added, “wonderfully kind.”
The Turchettes have another son, Ernest, who is married and lives in
Belleville. Like the rest of the family, he is broken over the news concerning his brother, and keeps repeating to himself, “Why didn’t you bail out, Bob, why didn’t you bail out?”
Services were conducted Monday at Stirratt Funeral Home followed by interment at Immaculate Conception Cemetery,
A memorial ceremony was held March 12, 2013, at the exact site of the crash. The memorial park dedication will be held on November 12, 2013.