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Survivors mark 40th anniversary of Air Force KC-135 crash

HUBBARD LAKE, Mich. — A group of survivors of a plane crash that killed 15 military personnel in Michigan gathered at the site with loved ones to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy Monday.

The Alpena News reports that John R. Harrison, Fred Anderson, Cliff Call, Dwaine Crane and Dale Solon survived the crash Sept. 26, 1976. Their memorial Monday took place where the KC-135 tanker they were aboard went down on the way to Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The participants recited the names of those who died and tolled a bell for each of them at 8:26 a.m., the time the crash occurred. Four of the survivors were seriously burned while the other, Solon, was able to walk away unhurt, they told a local radio station Monday.

Julie Warren-Cook, who lost her husband that day, and Vi Smithwick, whose son died in the tragedy, also attended the memorial.

A United Press International story at the time reported the KC-135 Stratotanker was en route from K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska when it crashed about 8:30 a.m. into a densely wooded swampy area.

The UPI report said the crash "pulverized the plane into hundreds of pieces ranging from inches to 10 feet in length."

Killed in the crash were: Maj. Rederick Wrinkle; Maj. 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 T. Cook; Capt. Richard N. Smithwick; Capt. David A. Phelps; Capt. Jack A. Kuzanek; Lt. Ronald P. Roach; Lt. Robert S. Witt; Tech. Sgt. Gary L. Carlson; and Sgt. James M. Singleton. All the men except for Witt and, who were from Kincheloe Air Force Base, were attached to Sawyer.

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