Johnnie O. Youngblood, 80, a cab driver in the Washington area for 45 years who was proclaimed a hero in 1945 when he rescued at least four persons from a plane crash at National Airport, died Saturday at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring after a heart attack.
On April 27, 1945, a Page Airways plane took off from National shortly after noon, got into trouble and attempted an emergency landing. The aircraft skidded into a culvert and then burned.
Mr. Youngblood told The Washington Post he had been driving on George Washington Memorial Parkway, saw what happened and yelled to his fare. "That guy's in trouble." So he turned his cab around and headed for the airport. He roared past runways and pulled even with the wreck, leaped from his cab and "hit the ground running."
By the time he got to the side of the 10-foot culvert, the door of the plane was open and burning and injured passengers who made their way out of the wreckage were trying to climb the steep slope.
The next day's Post said Mr. Youngblood and a Civil Aeronautics Administration employe "wormed under the flaming wreckage to rescue a half-dozen victims trapped beneath."
Mr. Youngblood, described by reporters as weighing only about 156 pounds, then went into the culvert and pulled several others from under the wreckage.
He told reporters he did not know how he managed to do all he did. "Maybe it was just the excitement," he said.
Mr. Youngblood was a native of Elko, S.C., and lived in Miami, Fla., where he worked for Western Union. He moved to Washington and became a cab driver in 1930. He worked for the old Union Cab Company and then the Bell Cab Association before retiring in 1975.
He was a resident of Adelphi, where he attended Adelphia Presbyterian Church. Mr. Youngblood was a Mason and member of the Park Lodge No. 29 in Takoma and the Order of Tall Cedars No. 134 in Silver Spring.
Survivors include his wife, the former Eleanora Marvel of Adelphi; a son, Charles H., of Arlington; a daughter, Golda M. Haines of Beltsville; a stepson, Edward E. Sutherland of Andrews, N.C.; two brothers, James, of Grovetown, Ga., and Carl, of Elko, S.C., and two sisters, Grace Hair of Elko, and Sarah Wilks of Norwood, Ga.