Centralia, WA (near) Chartered Airliner Crashes, Sep 1953
21 LOST IN PLANE CRASH NEAR CENTRALIA.
CHARRED BODIES OF VICTIMS RECOVERED.
Burned wreckage of a chartered airliner that crashed about 16 miles northest of Centralia Tuesday night with 19 soldiers and two crewmen aboard was found Wednesday morning on a timbered mountainside.
There were no survivors. The state patrol office in Chehalis Wednesday noon said they had received a radio message that all 21 bodies had been found, many of them burned.
Among those rushed to the scene of the crash, near the Weyerhaeuser Timber company's Vail workings, were State Patrolman GORDON SHEA, Lewis county Sheriff EARL HILTOP, Undersheriff HANK VALENTINE and Coroner ELMER OLSON.
At noon, the men from the sheriff's office radioed they were starting to talk to the crash scene.
Hit In Lewis County.
OLSON, also city editor of the Daily Chronicle, telephoned Wednesday afternoon the plane has crashed in Lewis county, ploughing at a steep angle through trees that reach as high as 300 feet.
The transport hit on 30 line ridge, and came to light in the wet underbrush of what amounted almost to a canyon. A Weyerhaeuser bulldozer was used early in the morning to clear a road to the scene and vehicles could get within 60 yards of the crash, OLSON, said, "but from there on it was pure torture."
From the steep path of the crash through the trees airmen at the scene said the plane must have been out of fuel. The plane burned on impact, and the only recognizable portion was the silver tail with a red stripe running through it.
Area Deeply Shaded.
Working in the shade -- the only sun reaching the spot filtering through the tall trees or coming in through the path of the crash -- air rescue workers were still searching the area in the afternoon to make sure that only 21 were aboard. The 21 bodies that were found were so mangled and burned, OLSON commented, that you could not tell the soldiers from crew members.
The men who found the plane were led to it by the smell of smoke, and a fine debris that cattered over the ridge when the plane plummeted to earth. One of the men heard the crash between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Tuesday night, and went in search of it when he heard a radio report this morning that the plane was overdue at McChord field. So dense are the surrounding, OLSON explained, the plane cannot be seen from over 30 yards away.
The bodies are being removed to McChord through Vail, he said.
Was on Flight to McCord.
The Regina Airlines DC-3 was on a flight to McChord Air Force Base with enlisted men from Ft. Ord, Calif. The soldiers were believed to have been flying north for assignment overseas.
A wide search had been launched after the plane's last radio report over Portland, Ore., Tuesday night.
The crash scene was about 40 miles short of the plane's McCord destination.
The crash was at about the 3,000-foot level in second growth timber.
Flash Sighted by Lookouts.
The wreckage was found after two lookouts had reported seeing flashes last night. One though he heard an explosion.
Two Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. employes, WARDITH FRENCH and ARNOLD ENGLAND, were reported to have found the wreckage. They started their search after hearing of the crash reports.
They were unable to tell whether the pilot had been trying to make a crash landing or whether the plane crashed out of control.
There had been no report of the plane being in any difficulty.
Rescue parties from state and military agencies immediately started for the scene to search for bodies and to start the task of bringing them out. Discovery of the wreckage ended a search by military and civilian planes that had started at dawn along the charted flight route.
Plane Chartered by Army.
A Sixth Army information officer said the plane had been chartered by the Army to fly the soldiers to McChord.
The twin-engine Regina Airlines craft left Monterey, Calif., at 1:40 p.m. and last was heard from over Portland, Ore., 5 hours and 48 minutes later.
It then was eight minutes overdue at McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma, with its load of soldiers from Ft. Ord, Calif., but the pilot made no mention of being in trouble.
Its next scheduled report point was at Toledo, Wash., 65 miles north of Portland when the plane reported but it declined to 1,500 feet over McChord at that time. A few hours later, the cloud layer had dropped to 500 feet, eliminating all possibility of a night air search.
Soldiers on Plane Named.
The Presidio in San Francisco issued the following names of the Fort Ord soldiers aboard the plane, but no home addresses were given.
Sgt. JOHN DAVIS, JR.
Pvt. ROJELIO NUNEZ.
Cpl. RAYMOND C. SIVER, JR.
S.1. GUSTAV F. WICKILOREN.
Cpl. HENRY T. ZIMMERMAN.
Pvt. JOSEPH M. BRISCOE.
Pvt. CARL C. BUTLER.
Pvt. ALBERT DAVIS.
Pvt. EZEKIEL TURK, JR.
Pfc. CHARLES A. GALE.
Pfc. WILLIE L. LENELL.
Cpl. TED K. MATSUYOSHI.
Pfc. FREEMAN O. MONTGOMERY.
Pfc. JOSE N. RUELAS.
Cpl. LLOYD L. STANLAKE.
S.1. HENRY L. FOSS.
Pvt. JOSEPH GAYNARD, JR.
Pvt. WILLILAM R. MOHR.
Cpl. LEAMON E. SCHULZ.
The pilot was Capt. EUGENE JONES, 44, of Miami, Fla., the headquarters of the airline, MRS. JONES said there that the co-pilot was G. W. DORSETT of California, shose home city was not known.
The Daily Chronicle Centralia Washington 1953-09-02