Mt. Kit Carson, WA Tanker Plane Crash, Sep 1962

Fairchild airmen who had hoped to take part in a rescue mission became members of a salvage crew on Sept. 12, 1962, as they worked on the grim task of removing 44 bodies on Mount Kit Carson.


Spokane, Wash. -- (AP) -- All 44 persons aboard a Strategic Air Command jet tanker plane apparently were killed when the C135 plowed into a fog-shrouded ravine on 5,271-foot Mt. Kit Carson about 20 miles northeast of here Monday.
Thirty-three bodies had been recovered when nightfall halted the search of the 500-yard deep ravine.
"It's the worst sight I've ever seen," said a highway patrolman.
Aboard the plane were 39 Air Force men, all members of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; one civilian and four crewmen.
The tanker, based at Ellsworth, was carrying the airmen to Fairchild Air Force Base near here, where they were to stay while Ellsworth runways were repaired. The jet was only 10 minutes from its destination when it crashed.
Col. Floyd R. Cressman of Fairchild, one of the first to view the wreckage, said the pilot apparently tried to pull up the tanker at the last minute. Visibility was near zero at the time.
Two volunteer searchers and a son of one of them found the wreckage, guided by the smell of smoke.
Bert Smith, Irving Hamann and his son, Wayne, all from Spokane, started searching after they had heard a report the plane was missing and apparently down in the Mt. Spokane -- Mt. Kit Carson area.
"We decided to work our way down the steep slope," said Smith. "And as we did, the smell of smoke got stronger."
"Finally, we came across the first of the wreckage. It was smashed to pieces. Then we saw three bodies on the ground -- all badly burned."
Smith and Hamanns went to the nearby ranch of Barbara Rainwater and telephoned officers.
"I'm glad we didn't look any farther than we did," Smith said. "I couldn't have looked any more."
A tandem tire, lodged against a pine tree, was the biggest piece of the plane intact.

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I recently visited the site while stationed at Fairchild. Also recall seeing the memorial while stationed at Ellsworth AFB years back. Not much left on the mountain, site is located in a old logging cut.