Pocahontas First Responders Recognized For “Miracle On The Mountain”
Marlinton, WV – The US Navy has dubbed it the “Miracle on the Mountain.” They’re referring to the rescue of 17 military personnel whose US Navy Knighthawk Helicopter crashed on a remove Pocahontas County mountainside on Feb 18th. All survived the crash, and were rescued within 24 hours, testimony to the cooperation of the WV National Guard and the local rescue squads.
This past Saturday, the WV National Guard recognized the first responders who were critical in rescuing the personnel. WV Governer Joe Manchin and 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall were also on hand. Governor Manchin praised the local rescue squads that risked their own lives that night to help.
“For people to train themselves, most of them volunteers, to get the skill sets to help somebody else, that’s a pretty special person” said Manchin. “And then to put that training in action, and if it hadn’t been for those people, for West Virginians, who went looking for our servicemen that night, and was able to find them, locate them and stabilize them, we don’t know what the outcome – it might not have been as good as it did turn out.”
The aircraft was carrying 12 Navy Sailors, two Marines and 3 WV National Guardsmen. WV National Guard Major General Allen Tackett says this rescue operation was unlike any he’d ever seen.
“In 47 years I’ve never seen an exercise or an event come off any more professionally than what happened on February the 18th” says Tackett.
The crash site, located a few miles from Snowshoe Mountain Resort, was in rough terrain with five to eight feet of snow. Although the heavy snow lessened the impact of the crash, it also hampered rescue efforts. Local first responders and guard personnel worked through the night to first reach, then transport out, via Snowshoe Snowcats, each of the injured personnel, with the last crew member retrieved from the crash site before noon on the 19th. General Tackett says because of the rescuers actions that night, all the personnel will make full recoveries and be able to continue their service.
Congressman Rahall says some have said this would make a great movie.
“Miracle on the Mountain’, what a perfect name for a movie” says Rahall. “But I’m sure that whatever actors could be found to play the parts of each of you, would never fully do what happened on that mountain that night justice because they would not know and no amount of training or practice would they ever learn what is to be a West Virginian, and to be the family that you are.”
During the ceremony, the WV National Guard presented a plaque to each of the county organizations that were part of the rescue- squads from Bartow, Frank & Durbin, Shavers Fork, and Cass, Snowshoe Mountain Resort and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Each member of the squads also received individual commendations from Governor Manchin and Congressman Rahall.