Alpena, MI Military Air Tanker Crashes, Sep 1976
PLANE CRASH KILLS 15.
5 SURVIVE CRASH IN AIR TANKER.
AIR FORCE OFFICIALS UNABLE TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF ACCIDENT.
Alpena (UPI) -- Four survivors in the crash of an Air Force KC-135 tanker that killed 15 others were moved to an Army medical center in Texas today while the fifth survivor was released from a local hospital to join the crash investigating team.
The Air Force said the four were in serious but stable condition at the Brooke Army Medical Center burns unit in San Antonio.
They were Capt. JOHN HARRISON, 33, Ravenswood, W. Va.; Capt. CLIFFORD CALL, Seattle, Wash.; 1st Lt. DWAIN E. CRANE, 26, Pine Bluff, Ark.; and Capt. FREDERICK ANDERSON, 32, Upper Saddle River, N. J.
Airman DALE J. SOLON of Lakewood, Ohio, escaped serious injury in the crash and explosion Sunday of the giant tanker. He was released today from Alpena General Hospital, and the Air Force assigned him to the team investigating the disaster.
Air Force officials said they may not know for months what caused the tanker on a routine training mission to crash.
The military equivalent to a Boeing 707 was enroute from K. I. Sawyer Air Force base, located near the Upper Peninisula town of Marquette, to Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska when it crashed about 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday into a densely wooded swampy area.
The violent crash which pulverized the plane into hundreds of pieces ranging from inches to ten feet in length.
The plane's body carved a 100-foot long gouge in the ground. Wreckage was strewn along a 50-yard wide path for more than half a mile.
The only known witness to the crash, ELMER LISKE, 48, a Hubbard Lake farmer, said he saw the plane flying low over the treetops while he was walking across his front yard about 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday.
"It suddenly started to go down," LISKE said. "It blew up, and I saw a big ball of fire, and then it exploded several more times."
An Air Force team of investigators spent all day Sunday sifting through wreckage and another team of probers was due to arrive Monday from Strategic Air command headquarters in Nebraska.
"They will sift through every part of that plane until they find out why the aircraft did not stay in the air," one Air Force information officer said.
The spokesman said it will take at least a week and possibly several months to determine the cause of the crash.
The 15 men killed in the crash were identified as: Major REDERICK WRINKLE; Major DANIEL H. CRAVEN; Capt. CHARLES R. ADAM; Capt. RICHARD G. DANKEY; Capt. OSCAR W. DUGAN; Capt. WILLIAM H. WARREN, JR.; Capt. JERRY B. RICHARDSON; Capt. VAN P. COOK; Capt. RICHARD N. SMITHWICK; Capt. DAVID A. PHELPS; Capt. JACK A. KUZANED; Lt. RONALD P. ROACH; Lt. ROBERT S. WITT; Tech. Sgt. GARY L. CARLSON; and Sgt. JAMES M. SINGLETON.
All the men except for Lt. WITT and Capt. ADAM, who were from Kinchelce air base, were attached to the Sawyer air base.
The Holland Evening Sentinel Michigan 1976-09-27