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Army rejects new search for Flight 293

Douglas DC-7C Seven Seas pictured in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. (A.Davey/Creative Commons)

The US Army has rejected a local man’s request for a new search to locate Flight 293, a chartered DC-7 that disappeared between JBLM and Alaska in June 1963.

Greg Barrowman of Maple Valley lost his brother, 17-year old Private Bruce Barrowman, on the flight.  A total of 101 people were aboard the four-engine propeller plane, mostly members of the military and their families headed to new assignments in Alaska.  The aircraft crashed into the ocean near Annette Island, just north of what was then called Queen Charlotte Island; the cause has never been determined.

RELATED: What happened to Flight 293?

Barrowman sought help earlier this year from Representative Dave Reichert, whose staff contacted the Army.  Reichert’s office received a letter late last month from Colonel Cheryl R. Martinez, director of the Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“We appreciate Mr. Barrowman’s interest in bringing his brother home,” Martinez wrote. “However, because of the depth of the ocean in the area of loss and the time since the accident, there are no plans to conduct a search and recovery for Flight 293.”

The letter from Colonel Martinez also restates some of the facts surrounding the mystery of Flight 293 – the June 3, 1963 date of the loss, the last known location near Annette Island, and the estimated 8,000 foot depth of the water in that area – adding that “no remains have been recovered.”

Martinez also wrote, “If a recovery is made at a future date, then the next of kin will be notified.”

Greg Barrowman is disappointed by the Army’s response and considering next steps.

“My core response [is] that it’s a bit of a letdown, because of guidelines that don’t match with other incidents,” Barrowman wrote in an email Tuesday morning.

“It makes me feel a bit suspicious, without having any evidence to the contrary, [and] now I feel a bit challenged to persuade others to investigate the matter further and get some answers,” he wrote.

Barrowman earlier told KIRO Radio that he’d like to recruit a skilled deep sea recovery team, perhaps from the private sector, who would be willing to locate and survey the wreckage, and, if possible, recover remains of those lost in the crash.

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