American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Alaska Rescue Group, Anchorage

  • Notes
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  • Publication Year: 1961

Alaska Rescue Group, Anchorage. The Alaska Rescue Group was founded as a result of the need for such an organization in the area. Hal Sherman and Johnnie Johnston called a public meeting early in 1960. Ted and Jan Koeberle, Stan and Janie Swanson, Art Jess, Jim Messick, Sherman and Johnston were elected temporary directors. The ARG works in cooperation with the Rescue Coordination Center at Elmendorf Air Force Base. The Group will activate when requested by any city, state or federal agency. Upon alert, the leaders contact RCC and the operation gets under way. The Air Force or the Civil Air Patrol furnish the greater part of the transportation and air cover. So far, the Group has been active in the McKinley operation, a Pacific Northwestern Airlines crash on Mount Gilbert, a lost child, a lost hunter and a lost prospector. Fortunately about 15 of the alerts proved false. The State of Alaska has cooperated by donating the use of a building and by making equipment available through the Civil Defense. In August, the Group was incorporated and first term directors were elected with Paul B. Crews as Chairman.

(The editor has added the following paragraph from a letter to him from Johnston.) We were out on an interesting mission not long ago. A prospector had a bush pilot set him down near the snout of the Kahiltna Glacier. He wanted to look at a claim and then float down the river on a raft to a rendezvous point. He didn’t show. The CAP searched by air for a week. When we were called in, four of us were set to leave from where he was landed and comb the Kahiltna, Yentna and Susistna Rivers until we found a body. We found him alive about where the Yentna hits the Susitna. His raft had broken up and he had wandered for ten days stark naked. He said that the plane had flown over him at least six times. All this leaves some doubt in my mind as to the effectiveness of air search ; you can’t beat the ground-pounders and people who know how to track.

John H. Johnston, Alaska Rescue Group

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