March AFB, CA
22 Sep 1954
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)
Thursday September 23 1954, page 1
Pilot Dies In Blazing Plane To Let Eight Others Escape
SAN BERNADINO, Calif., Sept. 22 (AP) – A heroic pilot rode his burning cargo plane to a fiery death so the eight other men aboard could bail out. They were rescued last night and today in the rugged San Bernardino mountains, near the crash scene.
They suffered minor injuries, two other Airmen were hurt when their helicopter, which had been used to bring crewmen of the crashed Air Force C-82 out of the mountains, itself crashed-landed 3 miles notheast of Lake Arrowhead.
The gallant pilot of the twin-engined C-82 was Capt. C. M. Eckstein, 33, of Van Nuys, Calif. His widow and two small children live in Sioux City, Iowa. The C-82 was from the 521st Air Defense Group at Sioux City.
The cargo plane crashed shortly afteer refueling at Norton AFB here at 6:16 p.m. yesterday. It came down 10 miles northwest of Big Bear Lake and exploded as it crashed, touching off a forest fire which crackled uncontrolled for several hours.
Ground crews searched through the night in the rough precipitous country. Planes and helicopters from Norton, George and March Air Force Bases were aloft before dawn.
Three survivors were rescued last night – Maj. James M. Wagner, of Bakersfield, Calif., the co-pilot; Lt. Alfred M. Gathercoal, North Hollywood, Calif., and Capt. C. G. Chairman, North Hollywood. They were picked up at the community of Running Springs in the mountains.
Picked up this morning were Capt. C. A. Metzler, Portland, Ore.: M/Sgt. J. Marinovick, Greenville, S.C.: M/Sgt. G. I. McQuigg, Schaller, Iowa; Airman 1/C J. P. Tryon, Oakwood, Tex., and Airman 1/C E. Dasaro, Los Angeles.
Injured in the helicopter crash were Capt. Lewis Griffith and Capt. James Devlin, both of the 42nd Air Rescue Squadron of March AFB. They suffered head injuries.