El Toro Marine Air Station, CA Air Disaster Kills 84, June 1965




Marines Believed Bound for Viet Nam.

El Toro Marine Air Station, Calif. (UPI) -- A mililtary jet transport, unaccountably failing to make a scheduled left turn, plunged into a fog-shrouded mountain and exploded after takeoff early Friday, killing all 84 men aboard -- including 72 Marines believed bound for Viet Nam.
There were no survivors in one of the worst military air disasters in peacetime history. It also was California's worst air disaster.
The C135 air transport, military conuterpart of the commercial Boeing 707 jetliner, smashed into a mountain 4 1/2 miles directly north of the end of the runway from which it took off moments before.
Turn Scheduled.
But Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) inspector ELMER PARKS said the flight plan called for the Air Force jet to have made a left turn two miles after liftoff.
In aq news conference late Friday, PARKS would not disclose whether the tape recording of the final conversation between tower and pilot indicated why the airman did not make the specified turn.
The pilot, Capt. WILLIAM F. CORDELL, JR., was a veteran of 3,000 hours flying time.
PARKS also declined comment on whether any sabotage was suspected. He said an investigation would be completed within 10 days.
"There was no indication the pilot didn't know the flight pattern," PARKS said.
Below Normal Altitude.
Under normal conditions the aircraft would have been at an altitude of 4,000-4,500 feet about 4 1/2 miles from takeoff.
A Marine officer, declining to be identified, said if the plane "lacked power, and went into its bank it might have wiped out a part of Orange," a suburban community near El Toro. He speculated the pilot might have tried to avoid such a disaster by keeping the plane on a straight course.
Orange County Coroner DR. RAYMOND BRANDT said all 84 bodies have been recovered. Ten had been positively identified by late afternoon.
The powerful jet "completely broke up: when it hit the mountain at the 1,500-foot level, about 75 feet below the summit.
The largest single piece of wreckage was the flattened out cockpit area, about 10 feet in diameter. The pilot's body lay inside.
Loma Peak Turned Into Nightmare.
El Toro Marine Base -- The sun heated fog clung to the human and airplane debris littering the mountain top.
Boots, some of them with feet, were scattered about.
Papers, technical manuals, some with singed edges, personal letters, cards, and official envelopes containing travel orders lay in disorder in the mesquite that covered the top of Loma Peak except where it had been burned by the explosion of 8,000 gallons of plane fuel.
Scattered pieces of uniforms tallied with the report that 72 of the 84 victims were U. S. Marines en route to Okinawa, staging point for South Viet Nam. The other 12 were the Air Force plane crew.
The first man at the scene, Sgt. BILL HASTINGS of the Marine Air Rescue Squadron from El Toro, said his first reaction was to radio for salvage crews to clean up the wreckage.
"I just felt that no one could have survived this one ... it was just that bad ... When I walked up from where the chopper landed me, and into that scene I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach ..."
Shortly before noon Gen. HOWELL M. ESTES, commanding general of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) at Scott Field, Ill., arrived by jet. When he stepped from the T-39 sabreliner, he was wiping his tear-stained eyes. He looked hard hit.
"Those guys were the greatest," he said, "I'm just sick." He was visibly shaken when he returned from the crash scene.
In the bustling flight operations office at the Marine air field at El Toro, a girl, obviously not more than 20, appeared distraught.
A sergeant was talking to her. She looked down most of the time, but glanced up to say, "But they haven't notified me ....."
The sergeant looked away.
She asked, "What should I do?" She appeared ready to faint.
The sergeant called another Marine, "Get the chaplain."
The girl stared dazedly at the sergeant, "I love him and now, I know he's ... d .... gone. What'll I do? ... Yes, I know he was on the plane because he left late last night, and he was in the Third Marine Division ..."
The sergeant took her into the secluded recess of the weather station. As she went with him she nervously twisted the new rings on the third finger of her left hand.



I was there

No one made it when the 135 crashed. I was there and helped
pickup the bodies and plane part. It was a day I will never forget.

My Daddy Was to Board this flight!!

My dad, Greenville, NC, Retired Master Police Officer Delbert R. Wyrick, Jr. (Bob), was to board this plane when Red Cross pulled him because of a call from the doctor saying I was going to be born. The doc wanted to be on vacation for the 4th of July and induced mama. My due date was the 4th. What a miracle. He still talks about how I saved his life. What an honor to be used to save my daddy. Without him, I wouldn't have my sisters, brother, nephews, nieces, brother and sister in-laws. He will turn 70 this December 1st, 2014. I love him so so much!! So many tragedies with this crash, but also some miracles.

1965 El Toro Crash

Dear Elaine:
My name is Lisa (Peterson) Hollingsworth. I am responding to your post on 3.gendisaters.com. My father, Lance Cpl. Alfed Peterson was killed in the 1965 El Toro Crash. I have info on a proposed memorial for those aboard. I am also trying to arrange a hike up to the crash site in June 2015 (the 50th Anniversary). I would like to add you to our list. My email address is lisa_Hollingsworth@pacbell.net

Tucker Burt

Tucker was my great uncle.. I never met him but my grandma (his sister) was still completely shaken and devestated over his passing at the time of her death. From all the stories i've heard, he sounded like such an amazing person and I wish I could have been graced with his presence. I still love him and think about him regardless of me not even being alive when it happened. I'd like to hear some stories about him if anyone has any.. RIP Uncle Tucker.. your spirit continues to live on through all of us.

El toro crash

My father was captain william f. Cordell, jr the pilot of the airplane that crashed in June of 1965 shortly after take off from El Toro airport. My mother was still pregnant with me at the time. The crash happened on June 25th, my parents anniversary. Understandably, the entire family never really recovered from this tragic event.

My mother passed away last year at the age of 75 and now that she is gone I would like to see if there are any children of the men that died that day that would be interested in meeting or speaking on the phone about their experiences due to their fathers passing unexpectedly. I have no idea what I expect to accomplish by doing this. Anyway I can be reached at williamfcordell3@gmail.com


My father was one that was

My father was one that was bumped of the plane and took the next one out. His name was Richard L. Hoffman. he may have been a PFC or LCPL at the time. He told me the story over and over again.

Please contact me if this sounds familiar.

(714) 309-4541

My father was also a

My father was also a passenger on this plane and was a crash victim as well. He was Sgt. Jackson Moses Sinyard,Jr. from Crane Hill, Alabama. His name is also not listed in this particular list, but this is obviously not a complete list, because the identification process of all aboard most likely took a few days, and in some cases I am sure that dental records, as well as other means, had to be used. The ones who are listed in this particular list, are most likely the victims that were able to identified first, maybe because their dog tags were still intact. From talking to my mother, my father was one of the last(quite possibly the very last)from this crash to be positively identified. I suppose that your fiance also fell into this category as well. I'm pretty sure that the victims names would not have been released by the military to the press until actual confirmation had been achieved first. I am so sorry for your loss, and for the loss of all of the families and friends of all those involved in this tragic crash. May we never forget them and the great sacrifice that they made while serving their country.

JUNE 25 1965...H&MS 15 PLANE CRASH

Folks, families of lost Marines and Airmen from the June 25, 1965 crash of the USAF MATS KC-135. I, like so many other Marines were one of the crew that went to the top of Loma Ridge to help recover those men lost that day. I have written and said many times....THAT DAY and IMAGES are burned into my brain. I am now 70 and thanks to the OCSD and Communications Center, I was able to revisit the crash site Sept 2012.......

I have numerous newspaper articles, most by API and other news agencies....so it's the same article, just different news paper.......the casualty list is rarely complete in any of the articles......but, the CALIFORNIA DEATH INDEX does have all the names....including the last man found the next day, so his is listed as JUNE 26, 1965.

THAT plane sat for several hours near H&MS15 hangars and even though I left the area LONG before it took off, there were no MAD RUSHES for last minute seats.

There is a person, claiming.....HE was the missing man, a NAVY personnel.........name starts with STEVE. THAT PLANE was carrying a full load of MARINES and AIR FORCE PERSONNEL........NO SAILORS WERE SCHEDULED TO TAKE THAT FLIGHT AND THE PERSON APPEARS TO HAVE SOME PSYHCOLOGICAL ISSUES.

AGAIN, we Marines did our job with respect and honor......and now, there is a young EAGLE SCOUT doing his best to see that a MEMORIAL is placed on Loma Ridge, if you hear about it, know about it....please HELP in anyway you can. Lord willing, JUNE 25, 2015, I will be on Loma Ridge again........hoping to be there at the dedication of this memorial.......I only wish we could convince the powers that be......THOSE MEN WERE HEADEDTO FIGHT IN VIET NAM....THEY SHOULD BE ON THE VIET NAM WALL....................

Respectfully........I AM SEMPER FI

Jim Keith, St. Louis
www.plainlabelfamily.com jimthedadkeith@hotmail.com

I am making a memorial for these people

I am making a memorial for the people who died. Any information you guys would have would be great. I would love to hear from you guys and Mabey any contributions or designs for the memorial. You can email me at jfourcher@gmail.com

F-4 crash off Laguna Beach July 7, 1967

Hello Ryan,
Started thinking about this again today...I was way out in the water beyond the breakers on a rubber raft at El Morro that morning with my friend Dee Gee. After this terrible incident the local news wanted to interview us as we were the closest to the impact area (I remember seeing a pilot in the cockpit and Dee Gee and I saw the jet turn slightly away from us...others on the beach that day said the same thing), DeeGee could be consulted regarding this), but our parents would not allow them to speak with us...all present were amazed that Dee Gee and I survived...we dove from our rafts and kicked ourselves down deep...felt the sea sway with the impact and stayed down until our lungs felt like bursting, when we came up it was as if nothing happened except for everyone screaming and franticly waving to us on shore when we came up...Horrific... these Pilots were definately Heros