Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 11, 2006.
On Saturday morning, June 9, 1956, about 20 children were in the small frame houses or playing in yards on the 5800 block of 46th Avenue S., a typical postwar building-boom neighborhood of young families on the north edge of Wold-Chamberlain Field.
At 9:30 a.m. a stricken fighter jet wiped out the middle of the block, killing the pilot, a couple with two of their three small children, and a 7-year-old girl watching TV next door. The Navy Panther jet had developed engine trouble after taking off on a training flight from the naval air station and the pilot, Maj. George Armstrong, 33, of Edina, was trying to make it back to the field, now Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, for an emergency landing.
The plane slammed into the street and bounced into the house at 5820, killing Donald and Jane Garies and two of their three children, ages 6 and 2. A 9-year-old son was reportedly on a fishing trip with Cub Scouts. Also killed was a 7-year-old girl watching TV in the house next door. Flaming jet fuel set four neighboring houses on fire - altogether, 11 of 14 houses on the block were damaged.
Five more children - all under 10 - were burned critically and died over the next 19 days. They included a 6-year-old, a 7-year-old and all three children of Vincent and Doris Kieffer, who survived.
The crash was the second-worst, in terms of fatalities, in Minneapolis history. In March 1950 an airliner crashed on W. Minnehaha Parkway, killing 15.
The 1956 crash came four days after an Air Force Scorpion fighter jet hit a car on a road next to the airport. A 38-year-old Minneapolis woman and her 5-year-old daughter were killed. Her husband and son escaped injury. The family had driven out to see the new Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. The accidents brought an unsuccessful appeal from the Metropolitan Airports Commission chairman to ground some military jets at the airport.