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Historical Photographs of Kotzebue Alaska
Page 7

Where is Kotzebue Alaska?

Herein are Historical Photographs of Kotzebue.


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Bill Lyster

Piasecki H-21 helicopter - Rescue story
During the late part of the 60s I was at Galena on alert, and we received a rescue call. A man was out in the sound on an ice floe, had been there for two weeks. He was in a snowmobile, the left front ski had broken off, and he was stranded. He had killed a seal had it skinned out, and he had a wooden sled with steel runners he was pulling behind. We flew over the ice for quite along time before we saw him. We were shown the site by a bush pilot flying a light aircraft. We were in an H-21 helicopter, a banana shaped tandem rotor helicopter made by Piasecki helicopters, which was later bought out by Boeing Aircraft. The first thing he said to me when I opened the door and got out on the ice with him was "I'm sorry!" I said oh don't worry about that. We tried to load his snowmobile into the helicopter but the broken ski pivot mount would snag the floor and he was so weak, that the two of us could not load it into the helicopter. We then tried to load his sled, and that is when I hit the steel runner with my shin and that still hurts today. Most painful. Nevertheless, we loaded his sled into the helicopter until the rear caught on the door, was too large to go past it. I asked him if he wanted to take the sealskin, which was about 4, inches thick with the fat and he said no. We got into the helicopter, I strapped him in, and we flew back to the Kotzebue Airport. I was saddened to have to leave all his possessions out on the ice, but when I opened the door to let him out after we landed at the airport there were so many people there who gave out a yell that I could hear them well above the noise of an 1800 cubic engine running full speed, and the rotors turning at flight speed. His wife writes a letter to Eielson AFB to thank us, but I was gone by then and never got to read it. I heard about it from a helicopter pilot that was assigned to us just before I left for Texas. I will never forget the man and I am sure pleased we were able to bring him back home.I have enclosed a photo of our helicopter as it looked back then.
I am wondering if anyone there remembers that incident. I am thinking it was 1968.
Bill Lyster bill(at)retsyl.us

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That was a great rescue. All I remember is that when I was assigned to take over the unit I went down one Sat. morning and went thru all the files to see what was in the cabinets and the records. The only thing of interest and that I remember was a letter from the wife of the man rescued. She was very appreciative of her husband's life having been saved by USAF. I left the letter in the files. At the time (or maybe later) I reflected on the fact that it is the only letter of thanks I ever saw from anyone rescued by me or any other crew in any unit I was involved with. Maybe people rescued didn't want to draw attention to themselves thinking they might be charged money for their rescue? As an aside, later arrivals who outranked me took over the unit, first "Birdie" Bacon then (first name?) Pfadenhauer.
Tom Garcia


From Wayne R. Johnson, Grandnephew of Carrie Samms:
My Great Aunt Carrie and her husband Robert Samms were missionaries for the Friends Church from 1897 up to about 1945. Family legend has it that they founded the church in Kotzebue plus others in Alaska.

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These were shown by using a projector that was called a 'Magic Lantern' a hundred years ago.
After Robert & Carrie's death the slides were stored in my Grandmother's basement that flooded in the late 1950's. Out of the 200 or so slides, only these few survived:
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Photos provided by Wayne R. Johnson (Contact web-designer to relay correspondence)

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