DISASTERS: E Between Nine & Ten

Snow was sifting gently across the central Washington desert as the loaded C124 Globemaster waddled, with grumbling engines, to the end of the 10,000-foot runway at Larson Air Force Base. Visibility was a safe two miles, and lights from the mess halls of the base glittered cheerfully through the grey light of dawn. There was a tremendous crowd of servicemen in the plane's canvas seats—131, including the crew—but the powerful, double-decked Globemaster, built to carry 200 men with full packs, had room for all and to spare.

Most of them had been...

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