These conditions, however, are minor compared to those experience by Joseph H. Tippets and his five companions during 33 days in 1943.
“Heart of Courage” gives an account of Tippets and his companions’ ordeal following their plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. Much of the story is told in Tippets’ own words.
The ordeal began on Jan. 5, 1943, when a plane left Seattle, WA, enroute to Alaska. Pilot of the plane was Harold Gillam. The passengers included Tippets, Associate Airways Engineer for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA); Percy Cutting, a Morrison-Knudsen mechanic; Robert Gebo, Morrison-Knudsen’s Alaska general contractor; Susan Batzor, CAA stenographer; and Dewey Metzdorf, owner of the Anchorage Hotel and apartments.
Less than five hours into the flight, the left engine failed and the plane crashed into a mountainside. The most seriously injured was Ms. Batzor. Her right hand was almost cut off and she lost a great deal of blood. Despite the groups efforts to save her, she died on Jan. 7.
The remaining members of the group sustained broken bones, bruises, cuts, broken collarbones and ribs, among other injuries. Pilot Gillam was least injured. After several days, he decided to walk out from the crash site in search of help. He was never seen again.
Gebo and Metzdorf were unable to be moved from the makeshift camp near the crash. This left Tippets and Cutting to go in search for help.
During the 29 days following the crash, the group endured the extreme cold and snow with little or no food. They went days with no more than vitamins.
Making their way down the mountain to the shoreline was a difficult task for Tippets and Cutting. Finally on Feb. 3 a fishing vessel that had been commissioned during the war for services as Coast Guard Reserve spotted Tippets and Cutting off the Quadra Cannery. Once the two men were rescued, they tried to talk the rescuers into going after the remaining two members of their party.
Weather conditions prevented that and Tippets and Cutting were taken to the Ketchikan hospital. After being examined and feed, the two men lead a rescue party back to find the two remaining members of their party.
Returning to the mountain so soon almost cost Tippets and Cutting their lives again. But once they were reunited with their friends, Tippets and Cutting were send back to the hospital to await the arrival of the other two. Gebo and Metzdorf had survived 33 days in the wilderness.
As rescuers brought the two men down the mountain, the body of Gillam was also recovered. Less than two weeks later another team returned to the crash site and recovered the body of Ms. Batzer.
While the group was combating the forces of nature on the mountainside, the chances of finding them alive were dimming at home. However, throughout the ordeal Tippets’ wife, Alta, never gave up hope that her husband would return safety. Tippet and his wife were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Tippet served as “branch president.” Their faith sustained them during this trying time.
This is a story of loyalty, commitment, dedication, faith and strength. Despite all that they faced, Tippets’ faith never wavered.
The book contains a number of photographs from 1943, as well as photographs taken in 2004 when the wreckage of the plane was re-examined. There are also various illustrations pertaining to the crash site and the plane. The artwork adds a great deal to the book, giving the reader a better understand of the conditions the group faced, as well as the condition of the plane.
Written by Tippets’ oldest son, John M. Tippets,"Hearts of Courage" gives a sobering look at what the six onboard that plane faced. It tells of their struggle to survive despite all the odds. When faced with death, they never gave up hope.
Tippets is participating in a Virtual Book Tour through Jan. 26. He will be making stops at various sites. For more on his tour schedule, as well as Tippets check out Pump Up Your Books.
Hearts of Courage by John M. Tippets * Publication consultants * @2008 * ISBN: 978-1-59433-077-3 * Paperback, 144 pages