David Kanzler – Elmendorf AFB

Elmendorf Air Force Base, adjacent to Anchorage, is the largest Air Force installation in Alaska and home of the Headquarters, Alaskan Command.

I was 4 years old and living in the Cherry Hill area of Elmendorf Air Force Base. My father was away on a mission leaving my mother and their 5 children “home alone.” I was coming up the basement stairs when the quake hit and I remember falling down the stairs. The shaking was unbelievably violent but I also remember the sound of the quake. The noise the earthquake made is rarely mentioned, but I can vividly remember the loud rumble which sounded like a freight train at high speed. In fact I thought the cause of it all was a freight train coming out of the ground from below the apartment.

The kitchen was a mess with all of the jars of food and condiments broken on the floor. All of my brothers’ model airplanes had come down from their perches as well as books, figurines, etc. My brothers’ school, Government Hill Elementary was destroyed, but as noted was closed that day for Good Friday.

With no electricity or heat, that night we gathered with other families on our living room floor and slept in sleeping bags. It was a great adventure for a 4 year old, but tremors and fires in the fuel storage area nearby (above ground due to the permafrost – since buried) kept the adults worried for days.

I can still remember my friend Mary Jo and me pushing on the side of the apartment building later that summer and trying to get the building shaking again!

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5 thoughts on “David Kanzler – Elmendorf AFB

  1. I HAVE AN ORIGINAL COPY OF THE “ALASKA EARTHQUAKE” SONG FROM 1964…I WAS 10 YRS OLD AT THE TIME. I ALSO HAVE MY PAIR OF MY BABY “MUCLUCKS” MADE OF SEAL SKIN I THINK BY ESKIMOES. MY EMAIL IS: JCKS8311@AOL.COM

  2. I attended Sunflower Elementary School in 1960-1962, 1st and 2nd grade. I am trying to find the name of the base housing we lived in at the time. I think they were across the street from the school, two story with basement.

  3. Hi Leslie..My sister Bobbie was at Sunflower School at the same time as you as was my brother Jimmy. I was 11 (6th grade) and going to the other Elementary School by Cherry Hill. There was also a middle school by Sunflower 7th-9th grade. I had a girlfriend named Janet who lived in those apartments on that side of Elmendorf. We were living right off base in the Richardson Vista apts. while waiting for on base housing. I used to play football after school in a large field that was across the street from the Sunflower school. I went there for 4th grade. Those apartments on that side of the base really did not have a name . Glad you survived!!

    • I still have a 45rpm record made about that quake. Newspaper articles…pics….and the memories of a 10yr old. I am 63 now in poor health….but will never forget that day!!

      • Wow, we moved a year before it hit but I remember tremors shaking the pictures on the walls and moving the couch. I guess those apartments are long gone by now. Very fond memories of living there and my two brothers were born there. We were transferred to Jacksonville, Fla. after Alaska and both my baby brothers thought the sand on the beach was snow!

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