Great Sitkin Island, AK Plane Crashes Into Mountainside, Sep 1959


No Sign Of Survivors Seen From Air.

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- An airliner carrying 16 persons crashed and caught fire last night on an Aleutian island peak. A search pilot radioed he saw no sign of life at the scene.
The Reeves Aleutian Airlines DC4 piled into a mountainside at the 2,000-foot level on Great Sitkin Island, 24 miles northeast of its destination at Adak Island.
A navy pilot who sighted wreckage 40 minutes after the crash reported the plane was afire but that the tail section seemed intact.
Later, BOB REEVE, president of the airline, flew over the wreck scene and reported there was no sign of survivors.
An official who declined use of his name said the situation "looked pretty grim."
The navy tug Apache reached the island with a ground party this morning. There was delay in reaching the crash scene over rugged terrain. The coast guard dispatched the cutter Clover from Adak.
The DC4, enroute from Anchorage on a flight that serves sommunities and military bases along the Aleutian island chain, carried five crewmen, two civilians and nine military men -- seven air force, one army and one navy.
The crew members, all of Anchorage, were EUGENE STROUSE, pilot; ROBERT POLLOM, copilot; BRYAN GREEN, flight engineer; and LORRAINE HENDERSON and BETTY BURKE.
STROUSE'S father, O. B. STROUSE, lives at Topeka, Kan.
Names of the two civilians and the nine military men were not released immediately.
Reeves officials said there was no word of trouble from the pilot before the crash. The DC-4 had started its approach to the Adak field when the pilot radioed his last routine report at about 5:15 p.m. (11:45 p.m. EST).
Sitkin, one of many volcanic islands, is more than 1,700 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Communications to Adak failed part of the morning, delaying word of search operations.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1959-09-25


Snapshots of Brave Marine Bullet Brown

I have photos from the barracks and the club of a few of the guys who were on the mission. There was a guy we all called "Bullet" Eugene Brown, he was the one who went into the water. He basically dove into the Bering Sea with no life vest, fully dressed. He swam about a hundred yards and grabbed a drowning Marine (who had been flipped out of one of the little single-man inflatable rafts they were using to go to ashore). I think the Marine he saved was a Private Vogel who was a weak swimmer and had been hurt. Bullet pulled Vogel back into his boat, and somehow got them to the tug before the cold water overtook them. The Bering Sea is so cold! A person couldn't live longer than five minutes out there. He knew that and he went anyway. It was a very, very brave thing to do.

I would be happy to post digital photos if there is a way to do that here.

Adak plane crash

I was on duty and took the call at marines barracks that the plan was down and had crashed. I didn't go on the rescue because duty personnel stayed. Everyone else went. 1st Platoon, part of second platoon and part of headquarters platoon got the mission. I know about the flipped boat, knew both the rescued and the rescuer. Have pictures of some.

That is interesting about the

That is interesting about the bowling balls. I recently spoke to a serviceman
who received a letter that was recovered from that crash. The letter was from his wife. He told me about the water stains that made it difficult to read and that he still has it. I'm amazed at the heroic efforts made by those who went to the crash site.

Sept. 24th 1959 DC 4 Tail no# N63396

My Uncle Carl Franklin Thomas was a 22 year old Airman killed on that evening in 1959. I was 9 weeks old. Does anyone have any more information on this crash? thank you. fell free to contact me. Mike

I was lucky

Reeves Aleutian Airlines flew to Adak only once a week during that time. The crash happened one week after I arrived on Adak for new duty as a Seabee with USN MCB-10, and I believe it was the same DC-4 and crew I had just flown with. Had I missed that Thursday flight the week before, I would have been on the flight that crashed. I was just lucky.

My father was also in the

My father was also in the ground party that went to the crash site on Great Sitkin Island. He talked about seeing bowling balls on the ground. He worked in the post office and was sent to retrieve mail.


Mr. Ramos,
I'm extremely humbled that your father and others risked their lives to assist in the rescue efforts. I didn't realize just how dangerous the conditions were. Can you tell me, does he know of any pictures of the crash? I (Grandaughter to Co Pilot, Robert L Pollom) am trying to locate one but am not having any luck.

It's nice to connect with others who were impacted by this terrible tragedy. I read that Eugene Strouse was "widely known among Fairbanks airmen and was considered second in command to Bob Reeves." I would love to hear more about other crew members, passengers, and ground crewmen. My condolences to all the families.

Just curious, did your

Just curious, did your Grandmother or anyone in your family know my Grandfather, Robert Pollom (Co-Pilot)? We would like to talk to somebody who knew him.


We lived across the street from the Strouse family and we knew them quite well. I was in highschool at the time. My father worked for the CAA (now the FAA) then and he was one of the first accident investigators on the scene. Talk about tough duty. He has on occasion talked about helping to remove remains of his friend from the crash sight.
Ironically, Bob Pollom's wife was one of my teachers at Anchorage High as I recall.

If I remember correctly, the crash was thought to have occurred because the pilot suffered a stroke.

My grandfather was Eugene

My grandfather was Eugene Strouse. It was a great loss to loose all those men on that flight. My heart goes out to their families. I sure appreciate the efforts of the ground crew in trying to locate any survivors.