Soldier returns home after 63 years – Victim of Alaska plane crash in 1952

Airman Second Class Bateman Burns

Military reports described the weather that night as “brutal.” As the flight of the C-124 Globemaster U.S. Army airplane made its way through the snow, thick clouds and ice, the crew was literally flying blind.

Aboard the plane on this November 22, 1952 flight were 11 military crewmen, and 41military personnel passengers, including Airman Second Class Bateman Burns of Marvell, en route to Joint Base Elemdorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska. The flight originated from McChord Air Force Base, Washington. Alaskan historian Doug Beckstead reported that just minutes away from their destination, the crew was using only an altimeter, a stopwatch and a radio signal to find their way home.

Suddenly, the massive C-124 Globemaster suffered some type of malfunction and began to lose altitude. This is known because according to Stars & Stripes reporters Casey Grove and Mike Dunham a nearby Northwest pilot heard a somewhat garbled radio signal on his headset that said, “As long as we have to land, we might as well land here.”

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