Tragic Twisted and True

The Scotch Cap Light House Disaster


Most people interested in the dark, and mysterious are familiar with the Flanagan Lighthouse Mystery. But did you know America has its very own version?

Photo Credit: Painting of the Scotch Cap Disaster // Darrell Millsap

Unlike the Flanagan Lighthouse, we know what happened. And the deaths of the men have saved lives across the Pacific since the tragedy.

The five-crew lost were: BMC Anthony L. Petit, MoMM 2/c Leonard Pickering, F 1/c Jack Colvin, SN 1/c Dewey Dykstra, and SN 1/c Paul James Ness.

At Scotch Cap supplies came in every three months, and mail was kicked out oof a plane as it flew overhead. The assignment term was for 4 years, but then you could choose where you wanted to go next.

The lighthouse was located on the Southwest corner of the island to mark the western edge of Unimak Pass, a vital but treacherous entrance to the Bering Sea. The wind at Scotch Cap can reach as high as 70 knots (80 mph).

The house was originally built in 1903 to reduce the number of shipwrecks along the coast. It was upgraded from the original wood building in 1930 to a concrete and steel-reinforced building. At this time, a Radio Directional Finding Station (RDF) was added to support the ships passing through the straight.

The number of light keepers it could house was increased from 3–10. And would be handy when World War 2 broke out a decade later. During the war, the Coast Guard watchers would tend the light, the RDF, and watch for enemy submarines or ships.

Despite an invasion of the Western Aleutians by the Japanese in mid-1942, the billet was relatively quiet throughout the war.

The Earthquake & Wave

“At 0130 Xray, 1 April 1946, at which time I was awake and reading a severe earthquake was felt. The building (CG Unit 369 — Unimak A/F station creaked and groaned loudly. Objects were shaken from my locker shelve. Duration of the quake was approximately 30–35 seconds. The weather was clear and…



Alexandra Henning The Hysterical Historian

I write about politics, science, among other topics as the mood strikes through a historical lense.