Montana Delegation Introduces Bill to Name Site of B-47 Crash in Memory of Fallen Heroes

U.S. SENATE — This week, U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Congressman Greg Gianforte introduced the B–47 Ridge Designation Act. This legislation honors Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. Lloyd Sawyers, Lt. David Sutton, and Lt. Fred Hixenbaugh who all tragically lost their lives in an Air Force B-47 Bomber crash in Montana in 1962.

The bill officially names the unnamed ridge off of Emigrant Peak in Park County where the crash occurred as the ‘B-47 Ridge’ and allows the placement of a memorial plaque at the site. The placement and the maintenance of the memorial will be paid for without taxpayer expense, by the families and the local community.

“Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. Fred Hixenbaugh, Lt. David Sutton and Lt. Lloyd Sawyers lost their lives while serving our country,” said Daines. “Naming this ridge in their memory will forever remind Montanans and visitors of their sacrifice.”

“Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. Fred Hixenbaugh, Lt. David Sutton and Lt. Lloyd Sawyers were brave men who paid the ultimate price for our nation’s safety,” Tester said. “Naming this ridge in their honor will ensure their legacy lives on.”

“Capt. Faulconer, Lt. Hixenbaugh, Lt. Sawyers, and Lt. Sutton tragically lost their lives in service to our country,” Gianforte said. “Their sacrifice will be honored and remembered forever with the naming of this ridge.”

On July 23, 1962, a B-47 Bomber originating from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas carrying four men on a routine training mission crashed into the southwestern slope of Emigrant Peak, killing all on board. Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. Lloyd Sawyers, Lt. David Sutton, and Lt. Fred Hixenbaugh all tragically lost their lives serving our country. Debris still remains on the unnamed ridge where these men lost their lives. After over half a century, it is time that these men are memorialized for their service so their families may have closure. 


Statements of Support:

“My 3 siblings and I have made a concerted effort to ensure that even though he was not here to be a part of our, or our children’s lives, that he is loved and remembered as a huge part of our family’s proud history and traditions. As a matter of fact, I believe we need to go to great lengths to never allow any of our future generations to forget any of these men, Uncle Fred, Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. David Sutton and Lt. Lloyd Sawyers or any man who has paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us left behind. I also believe we all should attempt to use his memory as a benchmark to strive for, not only in the lives of our friends and families, but support of the beliefs of our nation as they did. I write this not only to support his Family but all the families and people involved in this most noble of efforts.” – Frederick Hixenbaugh, nephew of Lt. Frederick Hixenbaugh

“This mountain is the burial ground for these four officers. There needs to be a plaque placed in the debris field. It is our duty and obligation to place a plaque to honor them for their service and making the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you Senator Daines for all you are doing to get this very important piece of legislation passed.” – Nancy Hixenbaugh Beasley, sister of First Lieutenant Frederick J. Hixenbaugh 

“My late husband and I did not have children, but the other crew members did. Some of their children were very young at the time of the tragedy and may not remember their fathers. It is especially for those children that I write this letter. A remembrance of this sort would let them know that their fathers were well respected and honored for their service. Also, the designation of “B-47 Ridgeline” on flight maps and USGS maps would give these children and now their children, something to point to with pride and to know that their father’s sacrifice was recognized and honored in a more permanent way. I am most grateful for your efforts to get legislation passed that will accomplish the placement of this memorial and naming of the location as mentioned. I wish you success in that endeavor.” – Myrna Faulconer Fair, widow of Capt. Joseph W. Faulconer 

“Not only does my family support their work to commemorate these airmen (my sister Melynda Karol Sutton Moyer and my mother Ella Louise Hembree Sutton Wenman) but so do the surviving family members of the other men killed in the crash.” – Greg K. Sutton, son of Lt. David Sutton 

“Two years ago, July 2016, my sister and I attended the memorial at the base of Emigrant Peak.  This was the first time that she or I had been to the area. My nephews and brother-in-law actually hiked   up to the crash site and took pictures and brought some small pieces of wreckage to us.  I think we both finally found a sense of closure after that experience. I am writing this letter in support of the B-47 Ridge Designation Act. I thank you for your dedication to the endeavor of pursuing the passing of this Act.” – Sharon Sawyers Wilcoxen, daughter of First Lieutenant Lloyd Sawyers

“We wholeheartedly feel it is appropriate to mark this significant historic event and provide the general public and aviators with the local history. Additionally, we support your efforts to have the crash site along the Emigrant Peak designated as the “B-47 Ridgeline.” We also support your efforts to allow the United States Forest Service to issue a permit allowing the placement of a memorial monument at the crash site. This endeavor will ensure the memory of our four brave Airmen will never be forgotten. Thank you for your efforts to memorialize our countries heroes.” – Colonel Brandon D. Parker, Commander, 7th Bomb Wing

“We believe that cultural and historic resources in our community, like the B-47 crash site on Emigrant peak, should be protected and honored. We support naming the crash site “B-47 Ridge.” Further, we encourage you to work with local residents and the United States Forest Service to place a bronze plaque at the crash site in the debris field as a public service and also to honor the airmen that have their lives in service to our country.” – Commission Chair Steve Caldwell and Commissioner Clint Tinsley, Park County

“I believe that cultural and historic sites should be protected and honored.  I support naming the crash site B-47 Ridge. I would like you to  work  with local residents  and the  USFS  to  place  a bronze  plaque  at the  crash site as a public  service  which  would  honor  the  airmen that gave their  lives in  their service  to  our country.  Many of us had family members that responded to the crash that night and worked to fight the fire and recover the airmen.” – Montana Representative Alan Redfield

To read full letters of support, click HERE.