February 15, 1918 (New York, NY) – January 2, 1944; 26 years old
Last local address: 26 Fairfield Avenue
Enlisted on February 14, 1941
Service number: O-803113 (as an officer) 32006967 (as enlisted)
Unit: Air Transport Command
Born to Nathan “Nat” O. (1895-1973) [born in Austria] and Diana Deutsch Steuer (1898-1995) [born in Russia]. Brother Bernard “Buddy” (1922-1935).
From The Los Angeles Times January 4, 1944
An Army board of investigation will be named to inquire into the crash Sunday night of an Air Transport Command plane which ripped through three houses, trees, power lines, and an automobile in the 5000 block of W. 106th Street Lennox, killing two crew members and a civilian motorist. Lieutenant Colonel Andrew B. Cannon, commanding officer of the 6th Ferrying Group, Long Beach, headed the investigation which will be conducted by a board of officers appointed by him. He said late yesterday that there was as yet no indication of the reason for the crash. When the plane finally came to rest, the wreckage caught fire from spilled gasoline. The dead were: Captain C.H. Smoot of Dallas, Texas, civilian pilot; Second Lieutenant Milton Steuer, Army Air Forces, also of Dallas, co-pilot; Lewis E. Westphalem, civilian, 23, of 5055 W. 106th Street, Lennox. Three other men aboard the plane escaped serious injury. They were H.A. Cluff of Dallas, a civilian radio operator and the third member of the plane’s crew, and two military passengers, 2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Hall of Hills Field, Utah, and Staff Sergeant H.W. Burris of Riverside. Lieutenant Hall and Sergeant Burris received only minor scratches and bruises and were not hospitalized while Cluff was placed under observation in the Centinela Hospital, Inglewood, for what were believed to be minor head injuries. Despite Army and Office of Censorship rules permitting newspapermen to make photographs of crashes not occurring on Army fields or military installations, the officers in charge at the scene gave military police contrary orders and refused cooperation with the newsmen. It was not until more than 10 hours after the crash that news photographers were permitted to take pictures of the scene. The officers’ superiors yesterday said that the incident was due to a lack of familiarity of the responsible Army men with current censorship regulations. The plane, which is a DC3 model with seats removed to provide space for cargo, was on a routine flight from Sacramento to Mines Field, a mile away from the crash, with a cargo of Army materials and two passengers. It made one approach to the landing field, Army officials said, but the pilot failed to land and was believed to have been circling for a second approach when the crash occurred. The plan first struck a tree in front of the home of Milton Roscoe, 5055 W. 106th Street, snapping it off about four feet above the ground and shearing off a part of the top of the house. Westphalen apparently was just getting out of his car in the driveway and was killed, probably by one of the propellers. His car was thrown more than 100 feet onto a lawn on the other side of the street. The plane plowed on, scattering parts and tree branches for another 250 feet before coming to rest in the front yard of Mrs. Bertha Stephenson, 5016 W. 106th Street, where it exploded and burned. Mrs. Stephenson’s house is about 75 feet back from the street and escaped damage. Before the plane came to rest, the starboard motor fell off and crashed into the bedroom of George F. Dopheid, 5034 W. 106th Street, knocking a great hole in the wall of the house and bouncing back onto the lawn. Dopheid and his wife escaped injury because they had not yet gone to bed. Parts of the plane scraped the front of the house next door occupied by C.W. Davis, Mrs. Davis was sitting in a bay window when the front of the house was scraped and showered with debris but escaped injury. The house was scorched by the flames and damaged slightly by plane parts which struck it. Survivors of the crash were unable to describe what happened, but Army officials believe the pilot and copilot were killed when the plane first struck the tree and the others were spilled out onto the soft ground when the fuselage landed and split open in Mrs. Stephenson’s yard. Los Angeles and Lennox firemen extinguished the resulting blaze and saved the Davis home from the flames. The plane plowed a swath 250 feet long and nearly 100 feet wide down the street, shearing off two utility poles carrying power and telephone wires, several trees, and scattering metal from it and Westphalen’s automobile over the entire area. The plane was leased by the A.T.C. from Braniff Airways, Dallas, and Captain Smoot and Cluff were employees of that company.
From the Norwalk Hour January 7, 1944
EX-NORWALKER KILLED IN PLANE
Lieutenant Milton Steuer, Co-Pilot In Crash In California; Attended Local Schools
Lieutenant Milton Steuer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nat Steuer of 295 West 38th Street, New York City, formerly of 26 Fairfield Avenue, this city, was killed last Sunday when a cargo plane in which he was the co-pilot, crashed at Mines Field, California. Mr. Steurer’s father was affiliated with Gabbe-Mole Fur Company when that concern had a plant on North Water Street and Lieutenant Steuer attended grade school here. Lieutenant Steuer entered the Army as an enlisted man three years ago and was assigned to the Air Corps at Turner Field, Albany, Georgia, where he was made a Link instructor. He was later appointed an Aviation Cadet and then was given the honor of being one of several to train with the RAF at Clewiston, Florida, where he received his commission and wings and also the RAF wings. He was assigned to Brownsville, Texas, for further training on twin-engine cargo planes. On completion of his training in Brownsville, he was assigned as a co-pilot for Braniff Airways. At the time of his death, Lieutenant Steuer was flying cargo for the Army between Dallas and Sacramento, California. His remains are being brought home under military escort and services will be held on Tuesday at 11 A.M. at the Park West Memorial Chapel, 115 West 79th Street, New York City. Lieutenant Steuer leaves a host of friends in Norwalk.
Lieutenant Steuer is interred at Mount Hebron Cemetery, 130-04 Horace Harding Expressway, Flushing, NY; plot Block 72, Sec E, Lot 1/3 36, Grave 1. Photo from findagrave.com.