Contributed by: WatchCat"On the last day of the search, it was clear that all of the elements had turned against us. The avalanche danger was so severe that even stable slopes had started to slide, making it impossible for climbers to head up the mountain. Also, a storm system had covered the mountain with clouds, posing a serious challenge to the Army National Guard helicopters that were helping us search from the air...
"In spite of that, a helicopter took off from Salem that morning and flew north. They didn't show this on TV, because there was nothing to see, but all of us on the ground heard the sound of its rotors as it circled overhead, hoping for a break in the clouds over Timberline Lodge. On the ground, a pair of para-rescue jumpers from the 304th Rescue Squadron waited in their orange parkas for their chance to climb on board and take one last look for the missing climbers.
"One of their commanders described the plan to me: the helicopter would fly towards the mountain between cloud layers, fighting 60-mile-an-hour winds. If they spotted something, one of the rescuers would be lowered using a winch. Then, the helicopter would deliberately rock from side to side, swinging the man on the end of the line like a pendulum so that he could try to hook the side of the mountain with his ice axe.
"He looked me in the eye and told me that they would do all of this, even though the best medical advice we were getting was that there was less than a one percent chance that Katie and Anthony were still alive..."
-Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts as quoted in KATU News.
This is why I continue to support pararescue on the blog. While some PJs enjoy knowing that they're getting some public attention, that's not the reason. The reason is that I can't go with them, and therefore I must do everything in my power to help men of the finest caliber find their way to pararescue. Because if PJs will jump to give their lives for a stranger, what else can I do for those I'm privileged to call friends?
306th's selection day is Feb 19th 2010. Think carefully about what you're doing that day.