Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Separated by Fire

Harold and Robert Irvin
Two brothers, both recently discharged Navy pilots, came to the Winecoff Hotel but only one left alive. Harold Irvin, 23, perished in the 1946 fire but his older brother Robert, 26, escaped.

Robert Irvin  1920 - 2014
Robert Irvin
Harold Irvin
Winecoff fire survivor Robert Irvin passed away on Father’s Day, 2014. His brother Harold died in the 1946 fire at age 23. Both were Navy pilots who flew together in World War II until Robert was sent back to the United States to train more pilots while Harold served on a torpedo bomber squadron.

By 1946 the brothers were in Atlanta to interview for jobs as commercial pilots and staying at the Winecoff Hotel. It is believed that Harold had been offered a job as an Eastern Airline pilot. Friday night December 6th Harold and Robert were together, attending a party in the hotel, until Robert retired to room 806. Harold remained at the party. A few hours later they were separated by fire and only Robert survived. He was rescued by ladder from the eighth floor, as high as the ladders would reach. "I went down the ladder and left everything that I had in the room except the clothes that I had on," he said.

Robert Irvin later become a Delta Airlines pilot and flew for Delta until his retirement.

Robert A. Irvin Remained a Pilot Until Retirement
Photos courtesy of Robert K. Irvin

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