This 6-Year-Old Vanished In The Smoky Mountains After Walking Off To Play A Prank On His Dad In 1969, Ultimately Sparking The Largest Search And Rescue Effort Ever In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s History

Vladimir Grablev - - illustrative purposes only

For the Martin family, hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was a beloved tradition. So, on June 13, 1969, William Martin decided to bring his two sons – Douglas and Dennis – to embark on the hike once again for Father’s Day weekend.

In the beginning, everything went just fine, too. Dennis, who was only 6-years-old, was able to keep up with the rest of the group, comprised of more experienced hikers. Then, on the second day of their trip, the Martins met up with some family friends.

At that point, the two families continued hiking to Spence Field, which is a popular highland meadow located in the western Smokies known for its gorgeous views.

But, while the adults took in the scenery, the young boys got into some antics that ended with Dennis Martin vanishing in the woods. His disappearance ultimately sparked the largest search and rescue effort ever in the national park’s history.

While hiking with his family on his very first overnight camping trip, Dennis donned a red T-shirt. And on June 16, 1969, after reaching Spence Field with their family friends, the Martin brothers went off with two other young boys with plans to play a prank on the adults.

William Martin reportedly watched as the kids started whispering and concocting a plan for the prank. Then, they ran off into the woods.

However, while the older boys eventually emerged from the woods laughing, Dennis was nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t long before his father had a feeling that something tragic had happened. So, William started calling for Dennis in the woods. After the young boy didn’t respond, all of the adults began frantically searching the forest trails.

At the time, there were no radios to communicate with authorities. So, Clyde – Dennis’ grandfather – actually hiked nine miles in order to reach the Cades Cove ranger station and gather help.

Vladimir Grablev – – illustrative purposes only

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