If you are familiar with the memorial that sits in Josephine Saddle in the Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, you at least know that three boys died during a hiking trip in November of 1958.
Thomas Johnson, a Green Valley resident and avid hiker with the Green Valley Hiking Club, interested in the history of the Santa Rita Mountains for many years, has written an accounting of the events surrounding that sad day.
Here is Part Eighteen:
Thursday, 4 December 1958- Mike Knagge had 50 FortHuachucasoldiers from the16thSignal Battalion searching the area around the Temporal Canyon Trail. Mike was assigning the soldiers in small groups to work the various draws. Mike was on horseback heading along the temporal trail toward Patagoniaand was a short distance past McBeth Springs when his horse suddenly shied. The horse began sniffing and snorting and fixating on something down the slope. Mike quickly recruited two soldiers, Pvt. John McKenna and Pvt. Kelley Kinser, to search the slope. They were carefully working their way down when one of the soldiers slipped and rolled down the hill. His tumble ended when he landed on something strange. Looking closer, he realized it was the body of one of the missing boys. He immediately alerted Mike Knagge who confirmed that it was one of the missing boys. It was 10:20 A.M.when Knagge fired two shots into the air as the signal to indicate that one of the boys had been found. Mike immediately made his way back to Josephine Saddle where the three fathers were waiting and asked them to go down and wait at the lodge for more information. A quick search disclosed the location of the other two bodies farther down the slope. The searchers also found a crude lean-to that had been constructed of pine branches and the remains of a small fire around which the boys had apparently huddled during their battle against blinding snow and freezing temperatures. A still-operative flashlight and David Greenberg’s hatchet were found near the fire. The site of the fire was about 100 feet down slope from Temporal Trail and located on a tiny ledge. David Greenberg was found about 12 feet from the fire site. Mike Early was found about 25 yards down slope and Michael LaNoue was found about 30 yards below Mike. Body bags were dropped to the site by a helicopter and were used to recover the bodies. They were then loaded onto a litter to be carried out and back to MaderaCanyonby six soldiers. The soldiers also built small rock cairnsat each of the three sites where the bodies had been found. At 5:05 P.M., the Ft.Huachucasoldiers walked out of the mountains with the bodies of the three boys.