On a Saturday night, 28 January 1921, hundreds of movie-goers packed into Washington D.C.’s famed Knickerbocker Theater, unaware that they were about to be hit by one of the worst snowstorms in the history of our nation’s capital.
As shoulder-high drifts accumulated outside all traffic came to a halt. Then suddenly, without warning the theater roof gave out a loud crack and came crashing down upon the audience -- carrying the balcony with it, and burying men, women, and children under tons of concrete, steel, plaster, and snow. Leaving 98 dead and more than a 150 injured.
A frantic call for help went out around midnight, and within minutes Captain C. W. Hoover, QMC, led a 5-truck convoy through the treacherous streets to reach the scene of this human catastrophe. Over the course of the next 36 hours he and his fellow Quartermasters continued pulling the dead and seriously injured victims from the twisted wreckage, and were credited with saving many lives.
Days later a grateful District Military Commander gave unstinted praise to CPT Hoover’s men for their "splendid service" in providing prompt and ready assistance during their hour of need.
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: Blizzard destroys Washington Theater
Date: January 1921
"The leadership, organization, equipment, discipline, and skills gained in training for war are also of use to the government in operations other than war."
- FM 100-5, Operations (1993), p. 13-8