Thirteen Lost

  • Published
  • By Ms. Erin Lasley
  • 62d Airlift Wing Historian

A few years ago, I visited a fellow Air Force historian and commented on the photos of service members he had tacked to his bulletin board. “Who are they?” I asked somewhat naïve. “Those,” he said as he pointed to one side of the board, “are Airmen from my wing who lost their lives in combat. Those,” he pointed to the other side, “are Airmen who lost their lives in training accidents.” There were several Airmen on his bulletin board for a relatively young Air Force wing. It is a sobering memory.

Today, I sit at my desk with the names of 13 men in front of me as I plan to honor their memories and their sacrifice to their country. These men were all relatively young, talented, and in the prime of their lives. They all pursued to make a place for themselves in the United States Air Force and specifically within the mobility forces. They were pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and loadmasters and Airmen from the 62d Airlift Wing. They all lost their lives on the evening of November 30, 1992, in a training accident.

November 30 was a good evening for flying and training. The weather was clear with two miles worth of visibility and there was little to no turbulence. Four C-141B Starlifters took off from McChord Field and joined an Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base over north central Montana to participate in refueling training before heading back to Washington to practice airdrop maneuvers over Moses Lake. Two of the C-141s (66-0142 and 65-0255) were mainly crewed by 11 Airmen from the 36th Airlift Squadron but one Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron and another from the 8th Airlift Squadron joined their sister squadron wingmen for some post-Thanksgiving training. The entire training mission was not scheduled to take more than five hours.

At 2018 that evening, C-141s 66-0142 and 65-0255 completed their refueling training and then collided midair at around 25,000 feet. Witnesses in the small town of Harlem, Montana, witnessed the crash and reported the explosions from the two planes lit the night sky before falling to the earth. The Harlem Police Department was the first to respond to the crash though they did not know yet it was an airplane collision and the Chinook Sheriffs Department and the Harlem Volunteer Fire Department followed shortly after. Security Police and an interim safety team from Malmstrom Air Force Base arrived at the scene in the very early morning hours of December 1. They all worked together to secure the scene, which stretched roughly eight miles, and recover the crew from both C-141s. The first responders found and transported twelve crew members on December 1. On the morning of December 2, the search team found the final Airman and transported him away from the crash. The crews from both jets perished.

The enormous loss nearly shattered some Airmen at McChord because they described their fellow crewmembers not only as their wingmen, but also as their family. Others struggled to understand how the collision happened while the collision made others open their eyes to the real dangers of training missions. It is a loss that many at McChord still feel today.


Captain David Sielewicz

Captain Jimmy Lee Jenkins

Captain Mark Elster

Captain Edward Parent, Jr.

Captain Banks Wilkinson

Captain Keven McGuire

1st Lieutenant Edward Hoyle III

Technical Sergeant Peter Osterfeld

Technical Sergeant David Young

Staff Sergeant Terrence Miyoshi

Staff Sergeant Monte Bissett

Senior Airman Wilbert Brown III

Airman First Class Anthony Moreland