14 Jul NO PROGRESS: GAMBLE CHALK ONE
FRUSTRATION RUNS DEEP WHEN DOING THE RIGHT THING IS IGNORED!
I have written about GAMBLE CHALK ONE in the past. In 1953 the US Army decided to have two military transports loaded with men and equipment fly at night under blizzard conditions in Alaska. Trouble was that there was no modern navigation aids at that time. The two transports were navigating by two AM radio stations and a map had wrong coordinates. One radio station went off the air at midnight. GAMBLE CHALK TWO managed to safely reach it’s destination. GAMBLE CHALK ONE was never heard from again. GAMBLE CHALK ONE ended up thirty miles off course and crashed into Mt. Silverthorne which is next to Denali.
The wreckage was found but the glacier and the conditions were deemed too dangerous to mount a recovery operation. Yet the position of our military is that we leave no one behind. Bodies are still being recovered from WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. There is an even larger crash not 30 miles away that 52 remains have been recovered from. Yet the families of GAMBLE CHALK ONE have only been paid lip service to.
Leo Blasi is the nephew of PFC Daniel Blasi and was a helicopter pilot and instructor in the US Army in Bosnia. During his down time the computer was becoming small enough that Leo was able to start the search for GAMBLE CHALK ONE. He was soon in contact with other family members. There was a Facebook group formed. I joined the group while doing research for my first book KANSAS ODDITIES. I wanted to include the story of Daniel Blasi when he was brought home. In the cemetery at St. Leo Catholic Church at St. Leo, Kansas, is a stone where Daniel is intended to rest with his family. To this day it only serves as a memorial.
Daniel was one of 17 children of Leo Blasi. He was raised in the farming community of St. Leo, Kansas in the far southwest corner of Kingman County. One of his brothers was Vernon Blasi who owned Blasi Tire Company on West Kellogg in Wichita. Vern and his family were well known in the trap shooting community. Vern held the only patch for shooting a perfect 100 in the Olympic trials and son Ken shot for the US Army Trap Team and placed in world competition as well as being a member of the US Trap Shooting Team for the Olympics. Many other brothers and sisters lived in the Pratt and Wichita areas. All dreamed of burying Daniel at the family plot some day.
One of the brothers, Frank, was the father of Leo Blasi. Now Father Leo Blasi of the Salina Catholic Diocese, Father Leo is still active in the search for Gamble Chalk One. A Glaciologist and geologist in Alaska took up the search and found the crash site where it is today. There is visible wreckage and a National Guard helicopter landed at the site and recovered serial number tags that proved the identity of the wreckage. Before Frank passed away Leo was able to take his father and mother to Alaska where they flew low over the crash site.
The last boots on the ground was 2017. Weather conditions limit being on the site only in August. Even though assurances going through the military, congressional members, and the White House, no task force has ever been formed to find remains and return the men home to their families. A TV station in Michigan did an award winning report in 2020 and still no effort to go to Mt. Silverthorne has ever been planned.
‘We leave no one behind’ has been proven to be a lie. The right thing to do is recovery. Will anyone in government ever live up to the saying? It is the right thing to do. And once again frustration occurs when no one does the right thing.
I am working on my fourth book on Kansas now. Will I ever be able to tell the full story of Daniel Blasi and GAMBLE CHALK ONE?