Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Thursday, May 07, 2015 at 11:31:24 :
Monday, February 20, 1956
Marines Confirm Hub Youth Victim Of Friday Air Crash
Tragedy – compounded a thousandfold by a Marine Corps error in releasing casualty lists which gave rise to unfounded hopes that their son might still be alive – struck the Henry Fraser family of San Anselmo with repeated impact from Friday to Sunday.
Their son, Marine Sgt. Donald J. Fraser, 22, was one of 40 men killed late Friday when a Marine transport plane crashed into a peak in Alameda County. Sergeant Fraser, alone among the victims of the crash, was not assigned to the trip, but had “hitch-hiked” a plane ride for a surprise visit to his parents. (Story of crash is on page three.)
First news of his death came to his parents Saturday morning in a telegram from the Marine Corps. The Frasers’ younger son, Richard, 19, was away from home w hen the wire came, returning later in the day, while his parents were away, to find the terse message informing of his brother’s death.
Then, later Saturday, the tragic farce resulting from the release of the wrong casualty list (a list made up from a passenger manifest which turned out to be that of another plane) brought hopes that Donald had not been aboard the crashed plane. This hope was given substance by the fact that the Frasers had received a letter from Donald saying he had to work and could not get to San Anselmo for his birthday Sunday.
Finally, yesterday, it turned out that the original casualty list was correct as far as the five-man crew of the plane and hitch-hiker Fraser were concerned, and the Frasers’ last hope was shattered by another Marine Corps telegram “regretfully confirming” that their son had perished in the crash.
This morning, the final telegram lay, heart-rendingly, atop a small and eloquent pile of papers in the Fraser living room at 111 Camino Del Herrera, San Anselmo. With it were the earlier telegram, pictures of Donald, his letter advising that he couldn’t make the trip but would “try to make it up there by fishing season, anyway,” and – final touch of irony – a valentine “To Mom and Pop” postmarked (continued on page 4) Feb. 13 but not delivered until Friday.
The Frasers have lived in San Anselmo for only about a month, but have lived in Marin previously. From 1944 to 1947, they lived on Poplar avenue in Ross, where they operated the Ross Village Fountain. Both sons attended Ross Elementary School, from which Donald was graduated in 1947.
The family then moved to Hawaii, where the boys attended school, and later moved to San Francisco, where Donald and Richard graduated from Mission High School. Henry and Richard Fraser now work for United Parcel Service, San Francisco. Mrs. Fraser is employed by the San Rafael Military Academy.
Bodies of the crash victims are being held temporarily by Marine authorities pending identification. When this is completed, Fraser’s body will be transferred to Chapel of the Hills, San Anselmo, which will announce funeral plans later.
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