5010th Air Transportation Squadron, Eielson AFB, Alaska
This page is under construction. Chuck Herrmann sent me a bunch of stuff from about 1961-64? and I'm working on getting it sorted and edited to put on this page. Please bear with me and if you have any thing to add, please send it to me. KV.
How bout you guys that were there during the '64 earthquake ? There's gotta' be some stories there.
Here is a good bear (no pun intended) story: Tom where is yours, seems like I've seen it somewhere?
SAME BIRD-DIFFERENT BEAR
by: Charles J. Herrmann
On 12 July, 1963, Captain Tom Williams, co-pilot; Staff Sergeant Charlie
Maxwell and I were returning to Eielson AFB from Galena AFS after a 7
-day TDY of 24-hour rescue alert duty. After about one hour of flight,
approximately 40 miles southwest of the village of Tanana, we experienced an
engine failure, which required a forced landing (autorotation) into a lightly
wooded area of 15-20 foot pine trees. Fortunately no one was injured and the
aircraft suffered only minor damage (a broken cabin window) except for the rotor
blades which were destroyed.
After insuring that we were all unharmed, we began executing all the proper rescue procedures straight out of the manual, ahem! Radio calls were made at 15 and 45 minutes after the hour; two hours after landing, Kotzebue Radio (400 miles away) picked up our transmissions; shortly there after we began to receive faint calls from Tanana FAA.
Meanwhile, we had prepared a huge 15-foot tepee of wood from the dead tree area we had avoided during our descent. Besides the tepee we placed a 5-gallon jerry can filled with oil drained from the engine. Had it been necessary, the pile of wood we had amassed would have created a smoke signal visible half way across Alaska. After enjoying (?) some of our food rations, we climbed on top of the H-21 to rest and to get away from the gigantic mosquitoes that had tormented us at ground level.
Soon thereafter, a rumbling sound woke us from our snoozing. It was a huge brown bear and her cub investigating the tepee of wood. In fact, Mama Bear liked what she saw; she began licking the oil that had spilled down the sides of the jerry can. Fearful that the bears might smell the open rations and thus attack the chopper or us, Charlie Maxwell lowered himself into the cabin just long enough to grab the long-handled ax used to chop down the trees. There was not enough time to reach our small handguns in any of our survival kits. Next thing, Mama Bear escorted her cub to the side (opposite the main cabin door) of the chopper and started sniffing the food. She then moved to the other side of the chopper, raised up on her hind legs and stared at us. Her head was above the top of the main cabin door; a massive animal capable of tearing up the helicopter. Carefully, very carefully, Charlie Maxwell raked the head of the ax along the roof or the helicopter; this seemed to annoy Mama Bear so she got down on all fours, glanced at us, and then nudged her cub to move on.
The two of them, Mama Bear and cub following right behind, walked about 25 feet away from the helicopter when Mama spotted a piece of rotor blade suspended in the branch of a tree. Again she rose up on her hind legs, grasped the piece of blade and tried to chew it. Not liking it, she shook her head, spit it out got back down on all four legs, and they disappeared. Regrettably, circumstances had prevented any of us reaching our cameras.
Subsequently we had an engine and rotor blades airlifted (slung) into the area and our maintenance troops did a super job under real bush conditions of putting 364 back together (Note: this is the same helicopter that Tom Garcia had his "Shaggy Bear Story" in 6 years later).
The following are typical mission reports of flights conducted by the helicopter crews.
RCC 394/16 Oct 61
Mrs. Veneti at Koyokuk notified FAA at Galena on 3023.5 KCs that Mr. Robert Demoski fell off Bishop Rock and has a serious hip injury. Mr. Demoskiís son walked 17 miles from Bishop Rock to Koyokuk to request medical aid. FAA notified Capt. Villotti and RCC at EDF assigned a mission number. Because of poor weather takeoff could not be made on 16 Oct 1961. Captís Villotti and Herrmann departed at 0840, 17 Oct 61 Helicopter 34374 and completed the evacuation. Mr. Demoski was kept in the Dispensary at Galena. No further eval was necessary.
RCC 423/14 Nov 61
1320L. Received call from FAA operations at Galena that C-180 N5142E had crashed on the Yukon River. Pilot was Frank Fickus and passenger Harry Pitka, native. RCC was notified and mission assigned. Heli 34364, pilots Captís Villotti and Herrmann, was delayed taking off for 40 minutes. The clutch actuator burned out and hand engagement was accomplished but visibility of ľ miles with snow and fog further delayed takeoff. At 1410L 364 departed Galena. Fickus and Pitka were picked up and returned to Galena. The C-180 had engine failure during flight from Ruby to Galena.
AAC-RCC 008/2 Jan 62
F-102 crashed immediately after takeoff at Galena due to engine failure. The pilot made a successful ejection. H-21 crew, Captís Johnson and Herrmann, notified 1404, airborne 1420. picked up pilot at 1427.
AAC-RCC 074/24 Mar 62
Mission open at 1350 upon phone call from EAF dispatch to Alert Pilot, Capt Herrmann. Aeroclub T-34 #14062Z overdue on flight from EAF-Ft Yukon-EAF. Pilot A2C Passono, passenger A2c Wayne. Comm search failed to turn up overdue A/C. Route search and airstrip check conducted by Wien, EAF and CAP aircraft. Night search carried out by T-33 and C-123 aircraft. Capts Keck and Herrmann departed for Ft. Yukon in SH-21B at 0600, 25 Mar to act as On Scene Commanders. Search continued until airmen were found and picked up uninjured near Beaver at 1400 25 Mar 62.
PILOT RESCUED AFTER FLASHING MIRROR FROM TOP OF SPRUCE TREE
STEVENS VILLAGE, ALASKA Ė Frantically waving a signal mirror from the top of a spruce tree, a tired, be-whiskered Tennessee helicopter pilot, missing for eight days in Alaskaís interior bush country was spotted yesterday and rescued. After walking for about 50 miles, brushing through dense forests and wading hip-deep muskeg for five days, Joe Johnson of Fayetteville, Tennessee was spotted about 10 miles from here near the Yukon River.
Johnson had become lost while piloting a Bell 47G from Rampart to Bettles on June 22. He was flying low and had set down three times to get oriented. The last time he landed, it was nearing nightfall so he decided to stay put for the night. The next morning the helicopterís battery was dead. For three days he remained with the helicopter but left because of lack of water. He left a note telling of his intentions to walk west toward Stevens Village and he went on his way with six days of food, a compass, axe and three cans of yellow smoke. Johnson used the smoke a few days before his rescue but the search planes apparently did not see it due to bad weather.
CAP pilot Bill Montgomery and his observer, Duane Pollock, spotted the 27 year old pilotís signal mirror about 2:30 p.m. An Eielson AFB H-21 helicopter piloted by 1st Lts Jake Hart and Fred Otte landed in the muskeg near Johnson and whisked him back to Stevens Village. Johnson was then flown to Fairbanks by Charles Martin, a fellow employee of Alaska Helicopters. At Eielson AFB, Johnson was examined by Dr. Carlton Huitt and conferred with Maj. Hollowell, base operations and Capt. Charles Herrmann, rescue mission coordinator.
Cordova, Alaska Rescue
Rescue Coordination Center # 276 - 19 Sept 65
Written by Marvin L. DeLong
At 1030 Local the RCC at Anchorage called Capt. Harwood, the on scene commander at the rescue section, Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, AK, to scramble a Helicopter for a rescue mission out of Cordova, AK. Helicopter 696 was scrambled with the following crew, Capt. Marvin DeLong Pilot, Capt. Leron Allred Co-pilot, S/Sgt Toy Crew Chief and Capt. Dale Cloyd, Flight Surgeon. The mission briefmg was accomplished by radio after the aircraft was enroute. The Helio Courier 4163D had been located in a lake in the middle of Bering glacier. The search also had located the three members of the hunting party. The hunting party was some distance from the damaged aircraft, however still on the land mass in the center of the glacier. The hunting guide and pilot Ralph Marshall had intended to made a temporary stop on the lake to hunt for a goat. When landing on the lake Ralph damaged a float making a take off impossible. Hunting guides don't normally give away the location of their favorite hunting areas. Therefore, no one knew where to search for the hunting party when it didn't return on time. After a couple weeks of searching the hunters and aircraft were found.
Normally, Cordova is out of the area assigned to the Eielson Rescue Section. The Rescue unit assigned to Elmendorf AFB normally takes care of the Cordova area. Helicopter 696 arrived late in the afternoon and had to be serviced and refueled before it was ready to make any pick-ups. The crew also had to get a fmal briefmg on the location of the hunting party and get themselves ready for the rescue. The search aircraft had dropped food, clothing and radios to the survivors. The hunting party reported they were in pretty good condition and were able to spend another night at their location.
By the time the crew and helicopter were ready to go, it was beginning to get dark. The briefmgs by the pilots and observers that had seen the terrain where the party was camped, described the area as unsuitable for a large helicopter to land. The pick-up was not going to be easy. The area was hilly with no flat land available. The Helicopter crew decided the recovery should be made in the best of conditions available. The Anchorage RCC tried to pressure the crew to proceed to make the rescue at night. We, as a crew decided to delay the pick-up until the next morning. We had worked all day and decided to be as fresh as possible.
The next morning we took off shortly after daylight and proceeded to the rescue area. We made a low slow pass over the terrain and sure enough there was no place to set the helicopter down. The terrain was rocky and had a constant slope to the waters edge. We picked out a spot that was close to the survivors and set the helicopter down on two wheels leaving the third wheel out in space. It took about 20 minutes to load the passengers and equipment while hovering against the hill with the third wheel about eight to ten feet in the air. The 20 minutes seemed like hours hovering on the two wheels. The pick-up was a success and the survivors were returned to Cordova. Cordova was a buzz when we arrived. It was reported that some of the family of Mr. Thomas Brawner was trying to have Mr Brawner declared dead before the hunting party was spotted. The normally sleepy little town had grown with the increase of news reporters and search aircraft personnel.