Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hearts of Courage by John M. Tippets

The cold Arctic air covers much of the nation and snow blankets many states causing us to shiver from the chilly conditions.

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


  1. Makes me cold just reading about it!

    I enjoy these types of survival books...I'll put this one on my TBR list--thanks!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  2. This one sounds really great. I want it!

  3. Thanks for this great review. What a compelling story!

    The Old Silly

  4. Thanks for the great review of Hearts of Courage. In addition to promoting this book, John gives PowerPoint presentations about the crash to various groups. He has four presentations scheduled in California so far, and he'll be interviewed this Friday by Utah radio personality, Carole Mikita of KSL.

    I've read John's book and was totally taken in by this story of survival, faith and prayers answered. I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

    All my best,


  5. Elizabeth, this book hit home with our temperatures not getting above freezing this week. I can't image what they felt.

    Teresa, it is a good book. The photos add a great deal too.

    Jemi, it's incredible that one of six survived much less four with the conditions they endured.

    Marvin, the story leaves me in awe of the faith he and his wife had that he would survive and return home safe.

    Cheryl, thanks so much for connecting with John. He did a great tribute with this book to his parents, especially his father. Thanks for the book.

  6. Mason - Thanks for profiling this book. I love true stories like that one! It reminds me of the book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, by Piers Paul Read. That's the story of a Uruguayan plane that crashed on its way to Chile. Sixteen survivors managed to stay alive for 72 days in the Andes before they were rescued. I'm going to have to put Hearts of Courage on my TBR list.

  7. Margot, I think you'll enjoy this book. I can't image surviving one week or even a day in the wilderness.

  8. This sounds good. I'll have to add it to my to get list. I liked the movie Alive. These survival stories can be inspiring. You have to think, if they could live through this, then maybe some of what I deal with isn't so bad.

  9. The strength it takes to survive that is inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story and this author with us. Definitely on my TBR.


  10. It makes me wonder how I'd perform and act faced with similar circumstances. Not sure I want to know. BUT, the book sounds wonderful, nice job discussing it.

    Best Regards, Galen.

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  11. Rick, I agree. We have to remember the hardships others face some times to be able to handle our own.

    Michele, it is inspiring. Can you image what his wife was going through? It's unbelievable.

    Galen, thanks for the kind words but I'm afraid I didn't do the book justice. I am not sure I'd want to know how I'd do either. Lets hope that faced with that situation we would pull from his inspiration.

  12. I must say I don't like survival books, but if you like snow, tough living conditions, stunning nature and a bit of adventure, I warmly recommend Chinese bestseller and prize-winner, WOLF TOTEM by Jiang Rong. It's one of those books that stay in your mind forever, which can enlighten you and teach you a lot. It is still the best book I've ever translated for my publishing house.

  13. Dezmond, I haven't heard of that one but I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

  14. Not sure I'd have the strength to survive what they did.

    Sounds like an interesting read, thanks for posting about it.

  15. Carolynalin, I know what you mean. I can't stand this weather were having now in the low 20s and I have plenty of clothes on when I go out. I can't image going out with what little they had on and surviving.

  16. Definitely sounds interesting. My husband is a pilot and flies small planes, so I don't know if I can read this book. It might make me paranoid every time he goes in the air and that would be no fun for him.

  17. Kerrie, tell him not to fly over the mountains in the snow. :) I think you'll like this book though, it is very inspiring.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.