|Pilot Lt. Thomas H. Patton (KIA) Corvalis, OR
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. James “Jimmy” D. Dellinger (KIA) Charlotte, NC
Crew 1st LT. Leon E. Reid (KIA) Hicksville, NY
Crew 1st LT. Luther G. Lamm (KIA) Lucama, NC
Crew MSgt Otto D. McAdams, Jr. (KIA) Braddock, PA
Crew TSgt Thurman C. Rainer (KIA) Raville, LA
Crew SSgt John B. Pyland (KIA) Ozark, AL
Crew A2C William P. Hodgson (KIA) Redwood City, CA
Crashed December 26, 1956 at 2039
Built by Bell-Atlantic as B-29B-65-BA Superfortress. During November 1950 converted to a KB-29P tanker. Assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC), 2nd Air Force, 40th Air Division, 31st SFW, 508th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) based at Turner AFB in Georgia. Call Sign "Kramer 31".
Took off from Elmendorf AFB on a training mission with a full load of fuel bound for Eielson AFB southeast of Fairbanks. After take off, one radio message was received before it crashed roughly 19 minutes after take off into Bald Mountain "Baldy" at roughly 4,200' in the Talkeetna Mountain Range roughly 50 miles northwest from base. On impact, resulting explosion and fire were seen to the south in Wasilla.
A search plane and two helicopters searched for the crash site, despite bad weather. The next day, a search party reached the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew.
The crash site remains
in situ on the mountain. Nearest to the ridge line are the burned out nose and cockpit areas. Further south are all four engines and the wing section. The most intact portion is the tail section and refueling boom, resting downward with the right stabilizer pointing upward. Scattered along the mountain side are the propeller blades, that broke off from the engines on impact. A trail of smaller wreckage continues down the slope spanning over 180m from nose to tail.
Patton is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at section B site 176-1.
Hodgson is buried at
Golden Gate National Cemetery at pilot V site 3613.
Rainer is buried at Masonic Cemetery plot 55:3. The other crew are presumed buried in private burials in their hometowns.
During 2004, Alaska Extreme 4Wheelers as well as other members of the off road community donated funds for the purchased and installed a memorial plaque on the wing. It was dedicated on June 25, 2005.
During middle July 2008, the memorial plaque was stolen from the site and was never located or returned, despite offers for a reward for information. The groups involved with the original plaque plan to replace it with a new plaque in the future.
On October 1, 2011 a new memorial plaque was placed at the crash site by Mike Flowers (Fourwheeler Club 2 Broke 2 Play) plus Mike Bashford and Tyson Hills of Alaska Extreme Fourwheelers. The new memorial plaque is a steel rectangle bolted and glued into a granite base.
After finding photographs of the crash site and plaque, Thomas Patton, Jr. (son of pilot Thomas Patton) contacted Alaska Extreme 4Wheelers.
During 2005, thirteen family members of the crew visited Alaska during August 8-15. On Monday August 14th, at 7pm a presentation was held at the VFW hall in Eagle River for the relatives to meet members of the Alaska Extreme Fourwheelers.
Thomas Patton, Jr. (son of pilot Thomas Patton)
During late July 2008, Thomas Patton, Jr. hiked to the crash site to pay his respects.
Robin Sword (daughter of 2nd Lt. James “Jimmy” D. Dellinger)
Six months old when her father died, today works as a nurse in Monroe, NC.
USAF Accident Report - KB-29 44-84149 via 11th Air Force Historical Office
AP "Air Crash Kills 8 in Alaska" December 28, 1956
AP "Eight Crewmen die as plane explodes on impact" December 27, 1956
FindAGrave - Thomas Henry Patton (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James D. Dellinger (grave photo)
FindAGrave - William Peter Hodgson
FindAGrave - Thurman C. Rainer (grave photo - date of death listed as Dec 27, 1956)
Alaska4x4Network.com - KB-29 threads
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman "Memorial to Baldy crash rises again" October 7, 2011
Thanks to Scott Hala / Alaska Extreme Fourwheelers for additional information
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February 14, 2020