On January 24, 1963, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber training flight carrying a crew of nine crashed into Elephant Mountain in Maine. There were only two survivors of the crash, the pilot, Lt. Col. Dan Bulli, and the navigator, Capt. Gerald Adler (pictured). Both survived a night in freezing temperatures that reached -30°F while rescue workers searched for survivors throughout the night. In the morning, rescuers were able to use dog sleds, snowmobiles, and aircraft to locate the fallen airmen.
This week, over 50 years after the incident, one of the crash’s survivors has finally come face-to-face with his rescuer.
According to an Associated Press report, the now 81-year-old Adler this week met with Eugene Slabinski, the 83-year-old former medic who rescued Adler and Bulli all those years ago. Slabinski was a part of the first rescue team to reach Adler and Bulli the morning after the crash. According to the AP report, Slabinski dropped from a helicopter and helped to airlift the surviving airmen to safety.
The reunion came at a Memorial Day remembrance that took place at the site of the B-52 crash.
Adler stated to the AP that his experience highlights the fact that a military career can be dangerous, even out of combat. His comments are particularly poignant, coming just weeks after a Navy SEAL died during a training exercise at Fort Knox. Two Navy divers also died earlier this year, drowning during a training exercise in a test pond at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.