Lost Canadian Banshee pilot remembered at U.S. naval base

A montage of a beach and a photo of a man.
Lieutenant Barry Troy, a Royal Canadian Navy Banshee pilot, disappeared off the Florida coast, several miles south of this beach at Naval Station Mayport, near Jacksonville, on February 25, 1958. PHOTO: Beach photo and montage by Joanna Calder, RCAF public affairs

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By Joanna Calder

On February 25, 1958, Lieutenant Barry Troy was part of a four-ship Royal Canadian Navy F2H-3 Banshee flight heading south along the coast of Florida from United States Naval Station Mayport outside Jacksonville. They were enroute to a point south of Jacksonville Beach where they would then turn and head back to Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Bonaventure, which was about 64 kilometres offshore.

Unexpectedly, a fog bank loomed ahead of the flight. The leader of the formation of fighters and the next two pilots turned right – westward towards land – and flew out of the fog bank within moments. Lieutenant Troy turned left – eastwards over the Atlantic Ocean – presumably because he wasn’t sure of the location of the aircraft ahead of him and wanted to avoid a collision in the blinding fog. He was flying low and fast, probably only 500 feet (152 metres) above the water.

He was never seen again.

At the time, a few items were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean about two miles east of Jacksonville Beach: some paper, his helmet, his shaving kit and some fragments of wreckage. What became of these items following the conclusion of the Board of Inquiry into the incident is a mystery and, for six decades, nothing more was found.

Last autumn, fierce hurricanes swept through the area. Following the storms, a Jacksonville park ranger, Mr. Zachary Johnson, decided to investigate a bundle of debris near the high water line on Hanna Park beach in Jacksonville. From the NATO stock number on one of the items, he realized the bundle contained military items. “I knew I had found something special when I saw the lieutenant’s [name stencilled on one of the items],” he told a Jacksonville reporter.

Sixty years and one day after Lieutenant Troy vanished, representatives of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) took custody of the historic items at a brief ceremony held at Mayport on the morning of February 26, 2018. Representatives of the RCAF, the Royal Canadian Navy and the United States Navy (USN) attended the event, which was held near the beach, about a few kilometres north of the location where Lieutenant Troy disappeared.

It was also an opportunity to thank Mr. Johnson and Officer Nolan Kea, of the Jacksonville Police Office (who has had custody of the items since last autumn) for their commitment to ensuring the safety of the artifacts.

An honoured guest was Mr. Dick Troy, accompanied by his wife Pauline. Mr. Troy was only 21 when his big brother Barry disappeared.

The ceremony opened with . . . .

To read the complete story and see a full gallery of images, visit the Royal Canadian Air Force newsroom.

Image gallery

  • A montage of a beach and a photo of a man.
  • Four people
  • Photo of a man
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