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The Blue Devil; Vol. 2, No. 24; 28 Nov 1946; pp 1,6.

150 88th Div. Men Enter Switz. As Rescue Party

All Passengers Survive Plane Crash;
Swiss Troops Effect Rescue

by Hy Crandell

Troops of the 88th Division made history last week when, with their efforts to help rescue the marooned occupants of a C-53 plane, they became the first foreign military troops to enter Switzerland as a unit, in several centuries. This is mainly due to the cooperation, mutual trust and good will between the United States and Switzerland. By allowing over 150 American troops to enter their country the Swiss showed that their is traditional trust and friendship between two of the oldest democracies in the world.

Much credit is due the Swiss troops for their courageous work in rescuing the survivors of the wrecked plane. The 88th Division troops had expected to accomplish that job, but after arriving learned that a Swiss rescue party was already in operation. The American troops, which came largely from the 1st Bn., 351st Inf., left Udine on 21 November at 1900 hours, accompanied by your "Blue Devil" reporter. After a train trip of over 24 hours they arrived in Interlaken, Switzerland. From Interlaken a picked number of men went by vehicle to Meiringen where they stayed all day on 23 November. While going back to Interlaken that night an accident occurred. A "weasel" ran through a fence and knocked down a tree. Two men suffered slight lacerations on the scalp. The men were Pfc Junior Rickman of Nashville, Tenn. and Pfc Earl Funderburg of Decatur, Tenn. Both men were from Regt'l Hq., 351st Inf.

It was thought miraculous that all the passengers of the plane were alive and well. Due to the cold and snow and lack of food it was expected that only a few of the stronger ones would survive. From the time the plane crashed on Tuesday afternoon until food was dropped on Friday night the survivors rationed themselves to half of a chocolate bar and a quarter of a bun a day. It was sheer luck that they had bought their PX rations before leaving Munich.

It was announced the following day by Brig. Gen. Ralph Tate, Deputy Commanding General of USFA [US Forces Austria], whose wife was on the plane and whose son piloted it, that the survivors would be brought down from the mountain by a small ski plane. Brig. Gen Snavely, Chief of air Division of USFA, flew to the top of the mountain earlier that morning so that he could be with his wife who was also on board.

The first plane came into the airport near Meiringen at 1100 hours on 24 November. It brought Brig. Gen Loyal M. Haynes. He was carried by stretcher to the ambulance and then taken to the hospital train. The second plane landed at 1210 hours. On it was Pvt. Wayne G. Folsom who was the engineer on the plane. He had a broken leg. The third plane came in at 1318 hours. From it walked Col. William C. McMahon and Mrs. Marguerite L. Tate. Both looked very happy to be on the ground once more. From the fourth plane, which landed at 1415 hours, walked Mrs. Loyal M. Haynes and Sgt. Lewis Hill. Sergeant Hill was the radio operator who kept the signals going after the crash. Mrs William C. McMahon and her daughter Alice came off the fifth plane which landed at 1445 hours. On the sixth plane (15 minutes later) General Snavely and his wife were passengers. Lt. Irving Mathews, the co-pilot, and Mr. George Harvey, a civilian working for the Army, landed in the seventh plane at 1555 hours. Mr. Harvey was not known to be on the plane. True to the spirit of the captain of his ship, Capt. Ralph Tate Jr. was the last to leave and landed at 1630 hours. With the arrival of his son, General Tate said, "This is the happiest day of my life. I've got my wife and son back.

Before the troops of the 88th left for Switzerland, a party of 18 men set out for Milan in the direction which had previously been given in hopes of finding the wreckage. Milan was the point from which communications were carried through to Italy. It was here also that many supplies were furnished to the 88th troops. Much credit should go to the 88th Quartermaster for the splendid job they did in rushing supplies and equipment for the rescue party. Special clothes and equipment were supplied the troops who participated in the expedition to Switzerland

Webmaster's note: Meiringen is about 70 km SE of Bern, 150 km NNW of Milan, and at least 300km off-course for a Munich-Salzburg or Munich-Vienna flight.

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