National Geographic : 1953 May
567 u. S. Air Force, Official General LeMay and His Crew Man Life Rafts in the Pool at Offutt Air Force Base Once a year SAC crews practice ditching procedure. General LeMay (center, hair streaming down fore head) led his men into this pool from a diving board. All the men wear waterproof survival suits and Mae West life preservers. Each SAC bomber carries three life rafts. Two are packed into special fuselage com partments; they can be ejected automatically. Once released, they inflate themselves with carbon dioxide. are going to be flying over some of the worst terrain in the world, and some of the most remote. Every now and again some of them are going to be dumped on it. Maybe they'll ditch, maybe they'll jump, maybe they'll crash. But their problem is going to be the same: how to survive off the land, whatever that land may be-tundra, jungle, desert, or just mountains. "I want them trained to survive. And I want to set up schools in which they can get that training." We batted the subject back and forth. Miller had been an outdoorsman and an ordnance expert all his life. Stampados, a peacetime big-game hunter, had become in the war a member of the British Commandos and of the Eighth Army's Long Range Desert Group, had served as an intelligence officer for the Office of Strategic Services, and had operated behind enemy lines in the Balkans and the Far East. He had learned sur vival techniques the hard way. The upshot of our Wiesbaden conversations was the activation, on December 16, 1949, of SAC's 3904th Training Squadron at Camp Carson, Colorado. The school commandant: Colonel Stampados. Its research and devel opment officer: Major Miller. To aid Stampados in his ground-breaking work, we combed the Air Force and the ranks of Army reservists for skiers, explorers, moun taineers, trappers, woodsmen. We were lucky. We netted men like Lt. Col. Charles A. K. Innes-Taylor, transporta tion officer for Admiral Byrd's 1934 Antarctic expedition and a former Canadian Mountie *; Capt. Willie Knutsen, Norwegian habitue of the Arctic (page 573)t; Per Stoen of the Arctic Indoctrination School at Nome, Alaska; survival expert Maj. L. E. Dawson; Hans Siewers, who had trapped in Greenland; M/Sgt. K. E. ("Slim") Moore, Canadian trained dog-team handler; M/Sgt. William Ferreira, who escaped three times from Ger man prison camps; and a swarm of volunteers * See "Exploring the Ice Age in Antarctica," by Richard E. Byrd, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1935. t See "Milestones in My Arctic Journeys," by Willie Knutsen, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1949.