Airmen perform risky mountain rescue to save distressed hiker

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Breanna Christopher Volkmar
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Lemme (left), 341st Healthcare Operational Medical Readiness Squadron flight surgeon, Staff Sgt. Dominic Williams, 40th Helicopter Squadron special mission aviator, Staff Sgt. Collin Carbonemarron, 40 HS special mission aviator and Maj Bryan Ashton, 40 HS pilot, sit inside a UH-1N Huey helicopter on the flightline of Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Jan. 10, 2024. Not shown is Capt. Levi Streeter, 40 HS pilot, who made up the fifth person of the aircrew responsible for saving a distressed hiker from a Montana park, Jan. 1.

Using helicopter alpine flying techniques, the crew assessed the conditions before lowering into the mountain. Due to high winds, the hovering process took roughly one hour and four attempts to get the hoist down to the hiker.

“The main rotor blade and tail rotor were about 10 feet off the cliff edge,” said Carbonemarron. “It was nerve-racking. His life was on the line and so was ours.”

Both the hiker and the crew made it out safely.

"Have a plan, have a buddy and make sure you plan for the worst-case scenario, especially in winter because it gets dark early," said Capt. Lemme, 341st Healthcare Operational Medical Readiness Squadron flight surgeon.