Feb. 3, 1959
THE MAN WHO TOOK THE PHOTOS
At the time of the plane crash, Elwin Musser was a photographer working for the Mason City newspaper The Globe Gazette. A former U.S. navy combat photographer during World World II, Musser was a veteran photographer. He was sent out to the crash site that morning with reporter Jim Collison by editor W. Earl Hall aand city editor Thor Jensen. Even though they arrived as soon as possible to get the scoop, they had to wait in their cars about a half a mile away. Musser says:
"All I knew when I left the Globe-Gazette was there was a plane down. I got out there and then I had to wait. I sat in my car part of ther time, listening to the radio. I heard them say the Buddy Holly group was in that plane..That was the first I knew what it was."
AAAfter coroner Raph E. Smiley arrived and made his investigation about 11:15, the media was allowed on the site. Elwin Musser walked around hurridly shooting the pictures.
"The wire services were clamoring for the photos...." he said
Musser was also trying to meet the deadline for the Globe-Gazette's early afternoon edition. He shot 8 photos which are now some of the most requested photos in the history of the newspaper. Musser remembers the scene at the plane crash:
"Buddy and Ritchie were lying face-down but the Bopper was terribly broken and twisted. "They still hadn't touched anything (the investigators). They were just moving around observing. We were in a deadline and I had to leave. I was riding back to get my pictures deveoped because the AP was hollering for them. Collison didn't think it was going to be that big a deal. And I told him, Hey man, this is big"
After the crash, Musser continued his work for the Globe Gazette until his retirement in 1981. In 1959, he earned a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize with the photos he shot that day. These days Musser continues to live in Mason City where he still gets requests for his photos.
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