21 Mar GAMBLE CHALK ONE
“HOPE IS PATIENCE WITH THE LAMP LIT.”
I am sure that this title has very few understanding what this name is, and how this relates to Kansas?
There is a tombstone in the St. Leo Cemetery for a local boy which is empty and still waiting for the son, uncle, and brother to come home to rest. And since 1953 everyone has been waiting faithfully.
Gamble Chalk One is the name of the flight in Alaska, that the Army gave. to the flight of soldiers and equipment. There were two Gamble Chalk flights and in 1953 there was none of the navigation systems that we have now. The flights were using two commercial radio stations for beacons. And one of the stations went off the air. Gamble Chalk Two made it to its destination. Gamble Chalk One did not.
Since that time all the crew and the aircraft have been lost. As the story develops the Army probably did know the location of the crash at the time or shortly after but it was on the Eldridge Glacier. It is a steep and hazardous location and so no recovery efforts were made.
Enter into the picture a nephew. The son of one of the Kansan’s brothers who became an Army helicopter pilot and was stationed in Bosnia. He had a lot of down time and by this time the internet was just fire up. For some reason he started to research the location and any efforts to find and recover remains at the site of the Gamble Chalk One crash site. It took years but he found relatives of other lost soldiers and started to communicate with them.
My family has been friends with many members of the family for over 50 years. The topic of the lost brother comes up every so often and it did just a couple of months before I found this story.
Enter Micheal Rocereta, an Alaskan resident. He took up the task of dealing with the Army and National Park Service about locating the crash site and trying to bring the boys home. A Facebook page keeps everyone informed and up to date on developments.
I started researching the story when I was writing my manuscript for KANSAS ODDITIES. I was hoping to include the story in the book. But things move exceedingly slow in bureaucracies and in the Alaskan climate. There is only about a two month window of opportunity to actually set down on the site. A National Guard helicopter on a training flight did a low fly over of the site. The was evidence of some debris there. Last summer there was a short landing on the site and recovery of the serial number plate from the airplane that confirmed that this was Gamble Chalk One. The wreckage has traveled down the glacier abut 5 miles since 1953.
It has just been confirmed that a ‘RECOVERY ASSET MISSION’ has been approved and has a green light. The mission will happen sometime this summer. With all things Alaska, weather will the the determining factor as to the exact date.
This last summer the nephew was able to get his dad and mother to Alaska and they were able to fly low over the site. His father had not seen his brother since he left for the Army. It was a thrilling event for all involved.
We are hoping and praying that enough remains can be recovered to bring everyone involved home to be buried in their hometown cemeteries. I hope to finish the story for a future book.
When looking online there is another air crash that took place within a few miles of the Gamble Chalk One site. They have been recovering the missing there for about three years. This story is easy to confuse with the Gamble Chalk story. That crash site in on a glacier which has made it down to the sea and is rapidly being lost as the ice breaks off. There has been around 32 recovered from this site last time I checked.
As with the joy of those families finally getting to bring their sons home, we hope and pray that this will be the story of 2018. There are only a few brothers and sisters left but a lot of nieces, nephews and friends. We all are waiting patiently for the mystery of the crash of Gamble Chalk One to be over and everyone home and accounted for.
We wait for the gathering at St. Leo when we can welcome our soldier home.