Having made successful landings, the job at hand was survival and rescue. Rations were gathered and divided to last two weeks. Warnings were issued not to eat excessive amounts of snow (to prevent sore throats) and to wear sunglasses at all times to prevent snow blindness. Space heaters were made from empty oxygen bottles with holes hacksawed in both ends and linked to an engine manifold pipe. Oil drained from the engines wicked through the device by means of parachute straps.
After three days on the ice, a Morse code message received by one of the radio operators confirmed their condition and position. Later that day, two C-47 transport planes dropped supplies by parachute only to see them carried out of sight by strong winds after they hit the ground. The stranded airmen fanned out as the planes made additional drops and managed to smother the parachutes before the wind again took their supplies to the far horizon.
A 30-foot wooden launch, the Uma Tauva, was dispatched from BE-2 to get the airmen off the ice. After landing ashore and with assistance from aircraft flying overhead, the ski and dogsled team were guided through seventeen miles of zig-zagging crevasses to reach the stranded airmen.
Loaded down with equipment and personal effects, members of the squadron struggled through knee deep snow and ice for hours before reaching the edge of the cliff at the ocean’s edge. After reaching the beach, most of the exhausted men found a suitable spot to curl up and get some well deserved sleep.
Several hours passed before the Coast Guard cutter Northland arrived. After boarding, they were treated to showers, dry clothes and hot meals. They were finally returned to BW-1 where they were debriefed and later sent back to the U.S. and to new assignments.
It would be 50 years before one of the P-38 Lightning that landed on that day in 1942 would see the light of day. To learn more about what history had in store for “The Glacier Girl” visit Recovery and Restoration pages.
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