Reaching the wrecked Douglas C-47 troop carrier plane and its crew wasn’t going to be easy—it had crashed in a remote part of the Alaskan Peninsula known as Cathedral Valley, a mountainous, glaciated area.
That’s where the Land Rescue Squad came in. Well-experienced in mountain climbing and specially trained in Alaskan terrain, this military group out of Elmendorf Field, Alaska, was dispatched as part of the rescue effort to find the survivors of the downed plane in March 1945.
After doggedly making their way up steep mountain slopes, some of which had never been climbed by anyone before, the Rescue Squad located the C-47. The crew had all survived, but the pilot was seriously injured and the co-pilot and engineer were wounded as well. After this information was relayed back to headquarters, an extraction plan was formed to get the men to a hospital as quickly as possible.
Since the snowy ground surrounding the plane was unfit for rescue planes to land on, medics had to parachute down to the crash site. The injured men were then taken by dog sled to a Stinson commercial ski plane, which had been able to land four miles away. Next, the ski plane transported the men to nearby Cold Bay, where they were transferred to a waiting hospital plane and then finally taken to Elmendorf Field to receive medical attention.