Tacoma, WA Soldiers Suffocate in Tourist Cabin Fire, Dec 1949

4 Soldiers Suffocated

Tacoma, Wash., Dec. 11. (AP)-Four soldiers, recently transferred from Fort Bliss, Tex., suffocated early Sunday in a tourist cabin filled with smoke from a smoldering couch.

All apparently died in their sleep. They were preparing the tiny cabin for the arrival of the wife of one of the men.

Fort Lewis, where the men were station, listed the dead as:
Cpl. Bill Bond, 31, Abbeville, Miss.
Sgt. Bill Pendleton, 32, Ashland, Ky.
Pfc. Dennis Phelps, 22, Creswell, N.C.
Cpl. James H. Elliot, 28, Sycamore, Ind.

A neighbor, aroused by the smell of smoke, broke into the cabin and found two of the men on the bed, one on the floor and the fourth sprawled on one end of the smoking couch.

A dropped cigarette is believed to have started the fire.

An inhalator squad from the suburban Lakewood Fire Department worked over the men for more than an hour but failed to revive them.

Army officials said the four had planned to greet Bond’s wife at the auto court cabin, on the main highway about a mile south of here. They died before her arrival Sunday from El Paso, Tex.

The victims were members of the 11th Anti-Aircraft Division, recently shifted north from Fort Bliss.

The division is based at Fort Lewis, 15 miles south of Sacoma.

Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, TX 12 Dec 1949


Bill S. Bonds

I am one of the children traveling to be with my father, Bill S. Bonds who died in this fire. My mother was never able to speak of this tragedy, and I have wondered for years who also died in this fire. My oldest sister is dead now, as is my mother. I would like to hear from the families of these other men since I was only 13 months old at the time.