My Dear Mr. Clark,
I am the regularly assigned plane commander of crew #20 of which your son, Robert, was a member. I shall explain later why I was not aboard the plane that ended its flight so disastrously.
This has been the most unhappy season or period of my life. Please accept the deepest regrets of myself and the remaining members of crew #20 in the loss of your son. The entire crew, of twenty-two men knew and greatly admired Robert. We were a very close knit organization and the fellows felt more like brothers and I like a father to him. God has seen fit to spare seven of us from that terrible incident and we will reform a new crew.
However, it shall never be the same without your son and the others of our shipmates. We shall not again fly without thinking of Robert and his and our unfortunate friends, who will not be there with us. Robert was a member of a well-trained and coordinated crew. All who had contact with the crew knew it as an outstanding unit. No single man made it that way, but rather, it was due to the concerted efforts of all members. Robert's job was one which contributed greatly to that end.
As I mentioned earlier, I was not on the flight that particular day because it was a plane commander check for Cdr. Woodward, my co-pilot. These checks are always given by certain designated, well-qualified pilots, other than the regularly assigned plane commander who has trained the individual. To date, the true cause of the accident has not been determined, but regardless of the cause, I firmly believe that although we do not understand it, it has to have been God's will. We, the remaining members of crew #20, join you in your grief and sorrow.
Gordon Brady, Cdr. USN