When the US entered World War II at the end of 1941, Lombard traveled to her home state of Indiana for a war bond rally with her mother, Bess Peters, and Clark Gable’s press agent Otto Winkler. After raising over $2 million in defense bonds, Lombard addressed her fans, saying: “Before I say goodbye to you all, come on and join me in a big cheer! V for Victory!” On January 16, 1942, Lombard, her mother, and Winkler boarded a Transcontinental and Western Airlines DC-3 airplane to return to California. After refueling in Las Vegas, TWA Flight 3 took off and 23 minutes later, crashed into “Double Up Peak” near the 8,300 ft (2,500 m) level of Mount Potosi, 32 statute miles (51 km) southwest of Las Vegas. All 22 aboard, including 15 army servicemen, were killed instantly.
Shortly after her death at the age of 33, Gable (who was inconsolable and devastated by her loss) joined the United States Army Air Forces. After officers training, Gable headed a six-man motion picture unit attached to a B-17 bomb group in England to film aerial gunners in combat, flying five missions himself. Gable attended the launch of the Liberty ship SS Carole Lombard, named in her honor, on January 15, 1944.