Mr. and Mrs. Ira Miller, of Isle, Minn., had a most pleasant surprise last week when their son suddenly became famous. Their son is Capt. Richard Miller, a pilot with the 5040th operations squadron stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
Captain Miller displayed some expert flying when he took his C-123 through treacherous air currents over Mt. McKinley to drop desperately needed bottled oxygen and survival equipment to stranded mountain climbers at the 16,500-foot level on the mountain.
As one of his fellow officers in the C-123 flight put it, “He dropped it right in their laps.” And this is no mean feat, considering the treacherous canyons he had to fly through,
For nearly an hour, the captain piloted his C-123 back and forth, searching for the camp of the stranded climbers. He had been told that they were to be found near the 14,000-foot mark, and he piloted his huge plane over every ridge and valley at this level. However, as he lifted on of the wings to take a look-see, he spotted a tiny, yellow speck about 2,500 feet above him. He climbed to that altitude and saw a yellow tent below him in which an unconscious woman climber was sheltered. A man appeared and waved his arms in recognition.
Captain Miller lined the tent up and pressed a buzzer which signaled his crew to toss a supply of bottled oxygen from the rear of the plane. And it landed on the ground in easy walking distance of the tent.
Swinging around for another pass, his crew dropped a litter and survival equipment to the rock slope.
Though his fuel supply was low, Captain Miller hunted for and found the red and green tents which marked the location of the injured climbers from the pacific northwest.
He made two cargo drops to this camp, and both hit the narrow target.
In a two-day period, 21 other drops were made to the stranded climbers.