air force KC-135 tanker crash @ wonde...

air force KC-135 tanker crash @ wonder lake, 3/23/1982

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West Chicago, IL

#1 Jan 31, 2008

an air force reserve KC-135 tanker (a military boeing 707 fuel carrier) blew up over wonder lake, IL on the above date, over 25 years ago. 24 crewmen on board died in the accident. fortunately, no one on the ground was killed.

i am doing research about this incident for a possible web site, and am asking you for help. if you were a witness to this tragic event or the aftermath, or know someone who was, please contact me at: [email protected]

R Mark

Glen Ellyn, IL

#2 Feb 3, 2008
Part of it landed on my friends property down the road from my parents. What do you want to know?

West Chicago, IL

#3 Feb 3, 2008
R Mark wrote:
Part of it landed on my friends property down the road from my parents. What do you want to know?
r mark,

what did your friends' family think was happening at the time? did they hear an explosion before the debris hit their property? or a low-flying jet roar? what landed on their land? where was the location- what part of wonder lake or where?

and what of the aftermath? it is my understanding that much of the debris was lifted out by military helicopter- did the governemnt approach your friend's family some time before removing the debris, or did they just show up and take it away?

i'm looking for true stories about what happened. they might seem boring, or old, or painful to those who witnessed all that occured, so long ago. but i want to hear about all of it, for history's sake. i want the web site to be an online memorial to those who in serving our nation, gave their all that night a quarter century ago.
R Mark

Glen Ellyn, IL

#4 Feb 7, 2008
A friend of mine said he saw the lightning hit the airplane and then part of the plane came down right over the top of his house. I think one of the plane engines is still buried deep in the ground way in the back on his property. A creek runs through his property and it is hard to get to the other side of the creek with vehicles. They found quite a few body parts on his property. The location is North West of the corner of Thompson Rd. and Wondermere Rd. The military helicopters where coming and going for a long time. Even a few years later they would come and fly over the area where the plane crashed. My parents live a few properties down. I was going to walk through the woods to see what was going on but it was dark and raining and I didn't want to take the risk of getting shot because the whole area was quarantined. Let me know if you want any more info. My email is [email protected]
Roger Brock

Elkhart, IN

#5 Mar 31, 2008
I lived in wonder lake at the time of this incident and the plane came down about 1/4 of a mile behind my house. I lived on Shady Lane. I remember I heard a loud explosion, It had been raining that night and I thought that it was lightning. I went to the window of my house facing north and saw sparks coming out of the clouds. My first impression was that it was a tornado coming thru and that it was hitting the electrical wires. I went to the living room where my two young sons were sleeping and thru the picture window the entire sky lit up. I went back to the rear window and saw a ball of fire coming out of the coulds and then a long swirling ball of fire coming out of the clouds. when it all hit the ground their was another explosion. I gave my report to the Air force the following day, I was in the Airforce prior to this incident stationed at Rickenbacker AFB just south of columbus ohio 301st Air refueling wing.I knew the pilot of this plane Capt. Nicosia as I had driven his crews out to the aircraft as he was stationed there also.
Margarita - Peter Johnson


#6 Dec 12, 2008
We personally knew Captain Frank J. C. Patton, one of the passengers. He was a graduate of the University of Indiana and attended the T-37-T-38
Air Force training at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbuck, Texas, Class 75-08, where we first met him as a 2nd Lt student and classmate of Peter. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the Air Force Reserve, to fly the C-130. His budies in the Air Force used to called him "General" (ie. General Patton). His family and friends also called him "Jamie". Upon his death, he left behind a child(11 months) from his marriage to Isa. He was a great friend, honorable in all that he did and a hero to the United States, his family and his friends. He represented the best of America: Duty, Honor, Country. He is missed by all of us who loved him.([email protected])
Gary S Wilshire


#8 May 8, 2009
This is directed to the above post, as classmate of mine at Reese AFB, TX. class 75-08, Peter Johnson. It is a sad day, even though I am very happy to catch up with yourself, I only now learned of Jamie Patton's death all those years ago. I would appreciate any news about that, and we all knew him to be such an honorable straight up guy.
I did 30 years as a Northwest Airlines capt., then retired early and took a job in Kazakhstan, will catch you up. I am at [email protected] and hope to hear from you. I hope you are doing well and stay out of the helicopters. Gary

Bronx, NY

#9 Jun 1, 2009
Hi my name is Angela Dixon and my father was the captain of this flight- William S. Dixon Jr. I don't know anything about what happened but I really appreciate that you all are trying to put the pieces together. I would however like to speak to someone that new my dad.

Bronx, NY

#10 Jun 1, 2009
I meant knew my dad. My email is [email protected]

United States

#11 Jun 30, 2009
Hello, I was stationed at O'Hare IAP was and part of the 126th ARW, ANG when this happened. I had know Capt Dixon briefly and he was an exceptional man. The Crew had flown a routine refueling mission and was headed back to O'Hare when our sister unit the 928th requested a pickup for some of their stranded Reservists in MI. The aircraft did come apart in mid-air with the loss of 5 Guardsmen and 22 Reservests.
Jim Schanz

Safety Harbor, FL

#12 Jul 2, 2009
That plane crashed in pretty much my parents back yard when I was 9. I was blown out of my bed by the shockwave. The military was stationed out of my parents farm on Thompson road and we have many photos of the aftermath. I was just seeing if this was somewhere on the internet when I happened upon your site. I watched the forest as it was engulfed in flames that night. The funny thing is that I never even looked this up before and never even fathomed how large this plane was or how close this came to hitting our house. I remember our neighbor telling us that he was looking out his patio at it just looking, and then it started exploding and he couldn't believe it and was actually crying at what he was witnessing. I use to find pieces of that plane for the next 10 years. I dumped them all but i remember them being silver with yellowish green paint on the. Anyways, it was cool finding your site and seeing all the posts. I probably know some of these people who are posting here. My last name is Schanz and our home was 4201 Thompson. See ya all.
Angela Dixon

Bronx, NY

#13 Jul 3, 2009
AJH wrote:
Hello, I was stationed at O'Hare IAP was and part of the 126th ARW, ANG when this happened. I had know Capt Dixon briefly and he was an exceptional man. The Crew had flown a routine refueling mission and was headed back to O'Hare when our sister unit the 928th requested a pickup for some of their stranded Reservists in MI. The aircraft did come apart in mid-air with the loss of 5 Guardsmen and 22 Reservests.
Thank you so much for responding. It warms my heart to read you say that about my father. Was your sister on this flight?

United States

#14 Jul 9, 2009
I was a member of the unit that Capt Dixon and the crew and Aircraft were assigned to. I was a Security Policeman and a first responder to the crash. We stayed in Wonder Lake until the last major piece of the aircraft was recovered along with the remains. A very somber time for our unit.

Oxford, MI

#15 Sep 28, 2009
I was one of the first Air Force Security Police teams that was sent to initially secure the scene. I had watched that aircraft taxi and take off that night. I was on guard duty at the mass parking area when we were notified we had lost an aircraft. When midnight shift had shown up they were dispatched to the scene. A recall was initiated and as they came in they were armed and sent to relieve swing shift, me. We got in our trucks and rolled in convoy to the scene. I remember we were stopped by a LEO and they were clueless as to why and where we were going.
My first post was to guard the Cockpit upon our arrival Then to the swamp where the center section had fallen and burned. I found and helped recover #27. Along with other nightmarish memories
This all just 3 days after turning 19 and purchasing my first new vehicle before work that night. The smell of JP4 and burnt flesh will NEVER be able to be forgotten. This incident was an extreme life altering event for me. I wish I had sought counseling for PTSD but regretfully did not I started to drink heavily instead.

The C130 that the load masters were on put down at KI Sawer due to engine problems. The KC 135 refueling was canceled and they detoured to get the load masters. I do not recall seeing or hearing about parachutes. I do not believe the 135 would carry that many for a crew of normally 4-5

Several years latter I ended up working with the Co-pilot's nephew.

I would be happy to discuss any questions regarding my experience.

AJH It is RWC would love to catch up
Angela Dixon

New York, NY

#17 Sep 28, 2009
Thank you so much for everyone who has responded and shared their experience. I'm thinking of putting together a memory book of my dad, Capt. William S. Dixon Jr. I really appreciate reading all of this information about the accident. Maybe one day, I'll take a trip out to Wonder Lake.
Keith Yearman

Wheaton, IL

#18 Sep 29, 2009
I did a research paper on this back in junior high. I no longer have that paper, nor the documents that were provided to me. But you should file a FOIA request with the Air Force and get the case file. Additionally, either the Wonder Lake or Woodstock Police has an incident report (an eyewitness account from one of the patrol officers).

As I recall, Happy 33 (I seem to recall that being the call sign of the KC-135) was on a routine training flight. The C-130 had suffered engine trouble and was stalled at Sawyer, and the crew hitched a ride on the ill-fated tanker.

I thought one of the C-130 crew members was found a day or two later, buried under an engine.

The crew of the KC-135 have roads named after them at the old O'Hare Air National Guard facility.

Brooklyn, NY

#19 Sep 30, 2009
Dear Keith,
Thank you so much for this information. That's so amazing that you wrote a paper about this. What does FOIA stand for? I appreciate all of your help and will follow your suggestions!


Oxford, MI

#20 Sep 30, 2009
I recall hearing it was a cow under the engine. The last crew member was found with one of the main landing gear. Landing gear went in crew member went in and were covered with swamp mud. Only his arm was above ground which led me to find him.

FOIA freedom of information act.

I have most of the local newspaper stories on this.

I only knew your dad as he was a member of the Alert Force and I as a Security Police Guard when he would go out to the Alert Aircraft and seeing him in the cockpit that tragic night.
Keith Yearman

Chicago, IL

#21 Sep 30, 2009
Bob, it's been close to 20 years since I touched this, and I really never did any additional follow-up afterwards. Richard Weigand of the 126th told me about the crash while I was on a tour of the ANG facility (he was their late public affairs officer) and I needed a research topic, so the crash was what I chose.

My old next-door neighbor used to know Dixon (from a flight school or something or other). When I was showing him the crash report and the newspaper clippings, his eyes just about bulged out of his head when he saw the Dixon's photo.

I thought the final person to be found had a last name of Greek origin (and seem to remember the newspaper saying he was under the engine - but perhaps they corrected that later on to reflect the landing gear). He was with the C-130 crew as I recall.
Keith Yearman

Chicago, IL

#22 Sep 30, 2009
Angela, paste this URL into your browser (the whole thing): 'hare+air+national+guard+dixon &source=bl&ots=IUU3IF- 2g0&sig=wVFow-abNpTe1LcKlo VNhh8_UPk&hl=en&ei=9eX DSri7CsaglAeIxMjIBQ&sa=X &oi=book_result&ct=res ult&resnum=9&ved=0CB4Q 6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=o'hare% 20air%20national%20guard%20dix on&f=false

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