Skip to Content

Mt. Tobin, NV Marine Corps Plane Crashes, Jan 1968


Battle Mountain, Nev. (UPI) -- A four-engine Marine Corps plane with 15 to 19 persons aboard was lost in a storm over the Nevada wilderness Wednesday night.
Air Force officials said the C54 craft apparently crashed after the pilot reported he was "dropping fast" with heavy icing on the wings.
Two search planes were turned back by darkness, but a ground party continued to search in the area where the plane lost radio contact, about 32 miles west of this northern Nevada community.
The Air Force at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., which was co-ordinating the search, said the plane was en route from Quantico (Va.) Marine Base to Seattle, Wash. It had made a refueling stop at Buckley Field, near Denver, Colo.
Radio contact with the C54 was lost at 1:50 p.m. PST (4:50 p.m. EST).
The Federal Aviation Agency said the pilot last radioed from 12,000 feet that the plane was "dropping fast." This was between Elko and Reno.

Nevada State Journal Reno 1968-01-12




Battle Mountain (UPI) -- The bodies of 12 members of a Marine combat instruction team, along with 7 crew members of their transport plane, were found Thursday in the Nevada wilderness.
A ground party which reached the scene of the plane crash said, "They didn't have a chance." The bodies were to be removed Friday from the side of 9.779-foot Mt. Tobin.
The C54 smashed into the desolate mountain area of Northern Nevada Wednesday. It apparently crashed near the top of the mountain and slid down 2,000 feet, according to the rescue unit which reached the area from a narrow mountain road.
A 13th passenger, Lance Cpl. ROBERT A. BEARD, en route home on leave, left the plane during a stop in Denver and flew home to Edmunds, Wash.
The plane, on a flight from Denver, Colo., to Seattle, Wash., was last heard from Wednesday afternoon when the pilot radioed it was "dropping fast" with heavy icing in its wings.
Marine officials said the passenters[sic] included a warfare presentation team on a 10-day tour of Western military bases to instruct U.S. servicemen on techniques of amphibious landings.
Early Thursday, 35 military and civilian aircraft, coordinated by Hamilton Air Force Base authorities, began criss-crossing the rugged terrain near Mt. Tobin, located 40 miles southwest of the town of Battle Mountain and 120 miles northeast of Reno.
At the report the wreckage had been sighted, two ground rescue teams were dispatched, one from Battle Mountain and one from Lovelock.
"We're going to have a rough time," said Pershing County Sheriff DAN HIGGINS. "We can't get all the way in on roads and we'll probably have a hard time getting the bodies out."
The rescue teams, traveling on foot and in four-wheel-drive trucks, packed medical supplies, food and radios for the trip up the mountain where nighttime temperatures recently have dropped below zero.
Military spokesmen said the plane took off Monday from Quantico, Va., and landed the same date at Buckley Air National Guard Station in Colorado.
The team gave a presentation at nearby Lowry A.F.B. Tuesday and left the base shortly before noon Wednesday bound for Seattle.
Last radio contact with the transport was five hours later when the icing condition developed at an altitude of 12,000 feet.

Nevada State Journal Reno 1968-01-13


I was stationed at Quantico

I was stationed at Quantico at MCAS SOES where Marine 850 was from. I was good friends with the crew and flew with Col. Dobson in December on our C117.

battle mtn plane crash 1968

Mt father, Col. L.N. Holdzkom was on board. I came home for his services from VN . While back in the states, my unit, 1/5 suffered heavy casulties in Hue during the TET offensive.

My Father Melted This Crash Down & I Worked on It

My Father was a civilian metallurgist and the Summer of 1998, he melted down with the help of his family as crew the salvage of this plane. I have a medallion of one of the victims and some of their metals that were badly burnt in the crash. I use to have more, but unfortunately, someone stole them from me. I have been meaning to return the metals to Quantico but I plan to keep the medallion since my Mother "re-gave" it to me the last thing before she died, telling me I had found it on the crash site. I had planned if I ever found any of the survivor's families and friends to make replicas of it because this medallion is the only thing I was given from my Mother. I normally would never touch any personal effects on these crashes and that is why when I left for university, I did not take any of this with me. I have worked to make a monument for the victims of the Paradise Airline Crash on Genoa Peak, NV, which crashed on March 1, 1964 and where 85 people died. And I was hoping to somehow combine these memorials if possible, since the location of the Mt. Tobin crash is so remote and desolute- and virutally impossible to physically get to except by helicopter or by spending days traveling with 4 wheel drive.

Re: Is there anyway we can get in touch?

I wrote the earlier message about working on melting down the Mt. Tobin crash. Is there anyway we could get in touch? It would mean a lot to me and perhaps this medallion could be copied to be given to individuals connected with the crash who want one. Please let me know. I believe it might be healing for those who wanted to do so. I was also very moved to have read your post. Thank you for writing it. Connie

My Father Was Lost Aboard This Flight

My Father was part of the USMC team aboard this plane. He left behind my Mother and two children, ages 8 and 4.... What a terrible day.

Col James Reed Priddy

I too Lost my Father on that plane crash. I was 10 yrs old and to this day it stills hurts. my Dads name was Col James R Priddy. he was the commanding officer of VMGR-152

Where was the Plane Kept?

So where was the wreckage taken to??

Colonel Priddy

Sir, please contact me at my email. I may be able to help you find more info.

Mt. Tobin crash - Wreckage Was Melted On The Site Into Ingots

First, I made a typo on the date of my earlier entry when we worked on the crash. It was the summer of 1968 and NOT 1998. Secondly, the wreckage was not taken anywhere per se, but rather, it was melted down on the debris field in a ground furnace that we built on the crash site. It took a family of 5 workers approximately three months to completely pick up all the pieces of aluminum metal salvage to complete the job. We also had to cut down larger pieces of the plane by "buckrogering" it with a custom-made flame-blow-torch which would eventually melt the larger pieces into smaller, manageable pieces so that these pieces could also be melted in the ground furnace. (I have date stamped photographs of both the crash and the stacked ingots that I took as an 11 year old working for my Father on the crash.) After all the aluminum was melted, we then hauled the aluminum ingots out on a custom-made 4 wheel jeep back to a base camp where our truck was parked. The ingots were then hauled all the way back to my parent's home in Nevada County, California and then later later sold to a company in Southern California for their melt weight.

1968 Plane Crash on Mt Tobin. Charles Dobson Jr my Uncle

I would be interested in a medalion from the wreckage. Please contact me about it.
Thank you.

article | by Dr. Radut