The Bear Lake region contains many community-service minded groups and individuals, dedicated to help when needed. One such group, known as the Bear Lake Rangers, was always prepared to act when situations arose. For years, 40-50 hardy-spirited Rangers rode in local parades and celebrations.
“In the years before the proliferation of 4-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, the Bear Lake Rangers were deputized by the sheriff and acted as the search and rescue team for the valley.
‘One memorable experience happened in 1953. As Junior Pugmire, long-time Ranger, tells it, a plane that was carrying servicemen returning from the Korean War was reported missing. It had logged in at Malad (ID) but was overdue for logging in at Rock Springs (WY).
‘On Monday night we had seen a plane circling and thought it might be lost, so when we heard later that one was missing, we figured that one was it. Then, we received word that a shiny object had been spotted in a hollow by the current Logan ski resort (Beaver Mountain), we knew the area and knew where to begin looking,” Junior said. The area was known as Pat Hollow, and according to Junior, at least 12 Rangers saddled their horses and headed up. They rode through the high ridges through the dugway in Green Canyon. Once the snow got too deep for horses, the four who had snowshoes continued on foot.
“Because we knew the country, we could come in the back side of Green Canyon,” Junior said. “The first thing we saw when we got to the site was a big wheel and we knew we had found the plane.” The four took a look around but didn’t disturb anything. “We knew right away that no one could have survived that crash. While we were looking around, I saw a piece of paper fluttering on the snow, so I reached over and picked it up.”
‘The paper turned out to be a letter written by the wife of one of the dead servicemen. She had written, “Dear Joe, I’ve been down to see your dad and he’s not feeling so good… “ Junior didn’t need to read anymore, but put the letter away, not quite sure what it would lead to.
Junior, with the help of his wife Ada, was able to contact the family of the dead serviceman, who lived in Tennessee. The family could not understand how a plane could crash into a mountain, and eventually traveled to Bear Lake, visiting the crash site in the spring. According to the government’s investigation, the plane’s flight had originated in Texas and its altimeter froze from ice buildup when traveling over the mountains. Its left wing hit a high tree, causing the plane to crash into the mountainside.
Speaking of the incident, Junior said, ‘That was quite an honor and a moving experience.
Source: News Examiner