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Bob's SAR Stories

I hope the following summaries of my 150+ SAR missions amuse, teach, and make the reader think. I am solely responsible for the descriptions and they are not official releases of neither the Appalachian Search & Rescue Conference nor the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Emergency Management. The stories have been left in their raw unpolished unedited prose for effect.  We become our stories, and our past search experience has the largest influence on our future actions.

| 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 |



SMY12-1 3 yo , Search managed by local rescue squad. High School students bused in to help search. My first task was being part of a 200 person line grid search, 50 people got lost, I learned that people in the field really wanted good leadership and how not to run a search. Able to walk out.

SACA5-2 Missing Airplane, Ground task, Nearly stepped on a Timber rattle snake. Plane finally located in an artillery range several months latter. Located DOA.

FTLSME46-3 Alzheimer's Patient, Sweep to grid due to dense foliage wound up eating Wild grapes as I crawled through the thicket. Worked with CAP. Required evacuation.

DSSMY36I-4 18 yo backpacker with epilepsy, Team that made find did not have a grided map and was forced to report position by the G in George method. Too bad the evac team went to the wrong G. Find made by : Seven Simultaneous Scratch Searches of Seven separate streams by several sets of searchers on a Saturday and Sunday. Required evacuation.


FTLSA44-5 24 yo hunter, Lee County- First to arrive, slept on fire hoses, met by Bubba & Slim., found by Dog team with no radio. Worked with DOGS East. Able to walk out.

MCSME50-6 68 yo mental patient- Staff then IC, Good co-op with CAP., One of the first times a joint command was ever set up between the ASRC and CAP. This was the foundation to many later changes. Learned to get the teams out fast. Body never located. Rumors went to WVA.

ISSY52-7 Old Rag (Shenandoah National Park) 18yo hiker. He made a bet that he could beat his friend back to the parking lot and then fell off the cliff. First introduction to the Incident Command System. Subject found by a team of technical climbers repelling off the various cliff. Subject spotted by belayer who was at end of rope and attached extra webbing to the rope to rappel the final 20 feet to make a positive identification. Evacuation required 11 hours and over 150 people. Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group earned a National Commendation from the National Park Service. Required Evacuation.


SMA36-8 65 yo despondent. There and Back again. Bike-car-plane-plane-ambulance-car-ambulance-rental car. Shotgun blast to head. On flight to year our Cessna 172 came in close contact with a B-52 bomber flying without lights; flight control told us to "look for where the stars aren't. Located DOA.

SACA12-9 Missing aircraft. Pilot Mtn. No ideas, wrong mountain, just search. Located DOA

SME10-10 78yo retarded. Sunday stroll- Walking on air for a quarter mile the brush was so thick. Located DOA

SE6-11 Green Suspenders, Alz found next door, only required about 15 minutes of searching. ambulance hospital wants temp. Second flight for Pegasus. Required evacuation.

SMA16-12 55yo psychotic. Swamp search, the caravan, the wait of four hours, the tracking task, the encounter with the swamp with the dog team the would drown, the call for air support, the team that went into the swamp and then required several hours to extricate. Find was made by a sweep team starting their task. When the wing man yelled right ready a unexpected voice yelled back "UHH". Learned the need for a overhead team, to start the paper work before everyone else arrives. Able to walk out with some prompting.

FTLSM48-13 15yo runaway. Which way did she go- Searching Afton mountain, nice houses, getting the copy of the map without route 64 on it. Eventually located in Richmond. Rode away.

FTLR-14 Aircraft recovery: Nighttime, wisps of fog shooting across road. Plane found by a team that did not know what to expect. The machine guns and bombs in the trees caused a lot of worry. Only later did they discover they were all mock-ups. Logistics made the mistake of feeding the evac team barbecue chicken . This search became a famous case history once critical stress management began. Many learning points. Critical stress is very real and more of a problem with younger members. Stress debriefing are effective. A good briefing before viewing a stressful scene makes a big difference. Located DOA

Click here to read the graphic account of the incident as recorded by one of the rescuers. Warning contains graphic language.

ICSA12-15 52 yo bear hunter. Found at PLS. Fork mountain, Load locker by myself, where is base? Where is the PLS. Unloading my car. Located DOA


ISSMY4-16 Roll to Bumpass for a run away found on arrival. Walked out.

ICSMA36-17 Despondent search, Suicide on the river, FBI and Secret Service kept cruising the parking lost, Search was considered secret because it involved a diplomat. Located DOA

ICSA12-18 22yo murder victim. Police had the car, lots of blood, but no body. Officer decided where to look as we drove around, we looked, and found many dead deer's. Body never located.

OOSME108-19 67yo psychotic. First search ASRC ran using the Incident Command System. Browntown, 9 days hide and go seek. Used night vision goggles to watch her house because suspected she was hiding out on purpose. Teams got so bored they called back their coordinates with 1 meter accuracy. Salvation Army served barbecued venison. Military schools, regular army, park rangers all helped. Subject was found on a ninth day of the search by a deputy sheriff who is was latter alleged was helping her to hid. Required evacuation.

FTLSA48-20 Loudon county murdered jogger. The poison ivy field and tree. wanting to abort my task. Everybody huddling around the televisions to watch themselves on TV. Finding the murder weapon. Diverting all the bicycle traffic to the location the body was ultimately located. Located DOA.

FTLSMA18-21 Subject had psychosis had previously walked 40 miles in the desert because she thought she was being chased by the devil. Dog team located her and had to keep talking to her so she would not run off. Able to walk out.

ISSA56-22 Robertsdale PA. Convoy left with no sense of urgency. Kept stopping every hour but would waste 15 minutes in the bathroom and eating. Team from SWVMRG beat us to the search. The search became a paperwork boondoggle, No priority to get teams into the field. Grided the heck out of the area. Heavy use of flagging tape to break search area into searchable segments. During the night would send out flag teams to break the search up. Rumor he ran off with a mistress. Body never located. Rumors state he went to Florida.


RA8-23 Simulation with Bridgewater. -5 degrees during the night but we stayed warm because we kept walking. The lemon-aid in by field pack next to my back froze in about two hours. I was using 4f-3l-6b-3hands-3head dressing strategy. Our team entered the field at 0000 looking for sign which was easy with 6 inches of snow on the ground. After we reached the PLS we went into an intense stream valley which was really messed up with fallen trees because of the recent WVA flooding. We finally finished at 0800 after watching the snowfairys dance. Finished up all night tasks and headed towards bed when team member injured. Medical communication link from Medcom to phone at local country store to radio to relay on top of mountain, to base, to second relay, to team in field. Required Evacuation.

FTLSME8-24 72 yo Alzheimer's. It was a dark and stormy night. The phone rang, GM put me on alert so I left for C'ville. I was assigned a babysitting task with the family. Yes, it was pitch black, half my team didn't have flashlight. I set up the line, assigned a buddy system, and gave everyone a number from 1-26. Of course they didn't stay that way. The find came quickly and thereafter the party ensued. Required evacuation.

FTLS2C82-25 5 and 9 yo. During a state sponsored MSF class in Charlottesville, a search for Albemarle county comes in. Eventually RW dismisses the entire class and off we go. I find a pond of mating frogs. Somehow, someone's radio push to talk button got stuck open and for 30 seconds with the sounds of amphibian sex filled the radio waves. Of course I was about the farthest anyone could be from the subject when the find came in. Able to walk out.

ISSME20-26 A.B. was the first to fly on the aero-medical helicopter Pegasus, although we arrived by ground about 30 minutes later. So he was the first to describe the parting of the crowd as the gods from the sky arrive. Used active duty military although they were all communication and computer specialist and not used to going out into the field. Able to walk out.

ICS2A82-27 VA001 the state SAR system begins with a search for two 18 year old females in Albemarle, It took us 45 minutes to get there. Deployed the first team in the closest stream and they located the subjects. Able to walk out.

ICSE40-28 56 yo hiker. When dispatch said the search was in Grayson Highlands State Park I knew it sounded familiar. Then the name Mt. Rogers popped into my head. I knew that this was going to be some search. Of course my windshield wiper didn't work so I could not drive down. So I had to wait at the locker until 07:00 when a VSP helicopter picked me up at the airport. I really enjoyed the flight down. After the pilot handed me the map and told me 1) don't put my foot on the flight controls, two Loran-C isn't working right now, and three I get to navigate. We simply followed route 81 except for some places when we could not get through the clouds. It was a little bit different to only be flying a few feet above the trees as mountain tops loom above me. Since the Loran-C was not working I had to follow a hiking map of the area that I had used on my last backpacking trip. However, I could remember driving the roads and had no problem following them from the air. At one point we had to swoop a little lower to read the exit sign. The last time I was at the LZ I was playing horsy with 15 little kids from ARE camp. This time we set a helicopter down on it, it was a rather bizarre feeling. The last time I was at the campground facilities it was incredibly foggy, half the building was a small store, and I was laughing at my brother John who was getting rained on and was wet and miserable.

I started out on a simple tracking task and then got lost by base in the bureaucracy of communications. When I returned I found a disorganized mission base and asked who was in charge. I was told I was the new IC so I got out the FOG and looked up what I was suppose to do on a large search. I always wanted to be an IC on a large mission and now I got my chance. In the end the search involved 256 searchers and 21 different agencies. KC ran OPS and had CM running Ground OPS with 25 field teams, GS had furry OPS with 7 dog teams and 4 horse teams. I felt somewhat ineffective and handed the search over to GS the next day. GWII and I then departed to go to : Subject required evacuation.

ICSME21-29 We arrived at night and in the parking lot saw about 150 searches with no apparent organization. When we asked who was in charge people actually pointed at several different people. The police had no desire to run the search. So I appointed the Disaster coordinator as the responsible agent since she would do anything I asked. By lunch time the next day we had over 75 searchers and only George and Myself. Finally, a team noticed where someone had busted through into the brush. They then located the subject's shoe and glasses. However, they had no radio or idea where they where. We decided since George was OPS I would go to the site and mark it on the map and come up with a strategy. The subject was soon located status 2. A mad scramble then ensued to reach the airport in time to catch the flight out. When we arrived at the airport the C130 was getting ready to leave. When we finally reached the tarmac the plane was backing up. We dashed into the terminal and someone directed me to a hotline to the control tower. I then had the controller stop the plane after it was already cleared for takeoff. After it came back I had to clear up the confusion . The pilot thought he was suppose to go the Charlotte NC instead of Charlottesville, VA. Required Evacuation

FTLSME28-30 Another Alz subject. Subject located by helicopter, thus changing my belief that helicopters during the summer are useless. Located DOA

A15-31 21, 22, 24 yo hikers. Old Rag revisited. I was given the task of organizing an evacuation team for three severely injured subjects. In reality they were going down, up, down, up, and finally down the mountain. What I really remember the most is an incredibly cute park ranger.Walked out.

FTLSMA8-32 Possible suicide. Team member got stung by wasp. Another team member makes the comment I'm sure glad that wasn't me since I'm allergic to bee. I think of my bee sting kit sitting in my car. An obvious learning point. Walked out.

ISSMA4-33 I wasn't at search base long, second search for miss chased by the devil. She was found 20 miles away but I do remember the police paid to have piazza delivered. Walked out.

ISSA24-34 The search that melted my boots. Yet I saved KC's boots with 1.5 boxes of baking soda. P.S. when the family says he is not suicidal, well Located DOA

ICSA13-35 Lost hunter. Most memorable aspect was going to the bathroom and returning and noticing that something was different at base. Had some difficulties with an unified command structure. So much depends upon people working together for the common goal of finding the missing person above all else. Able to walk out

ICSMA16-36 69 yo Alzheimer's. PLS Delaware, missing five days. Search could have been avoided if entered into national computer for missing people. Found in about four hours by helicopter with close support of a dog team. Began to see behavior pattern of former residences in Alzheimer's subjects. First search with the ASRC functioning as an EMS agency. Located DOA


FTLSME23-37 Hampton-Sydney Search. Lead a group of students. For breakfast they allowed to go to the student cafeteria. DH and E who were first year females at the time, decide they would just try to blend into the student crowd. Hopefully it was a difficult task since it is an all male school. Located DOA

ICS2A10,-38 Big Levels- They walked out. Nothing memorable

ISSI33-39 4 yo drowning. Forced to work with an unprofessional IC, he had a beer gut hanging out, with his blue shirt unopened. Large ego, ran off to ride in a press helicopter, I became the IC by default when it became suspension time. Subject located 40 miles downstream. Double tragedy since was of the dog handler's dog was killed by traffic. Located DOA

ICSA46-40 35 yo murder case. Good ole boy network in county. Search was for the sheriff's missing friend. PLS was the sheriffs office. Following up on rumors and psychics. Provided the planning for their search. Political Correctness. Spent the night in jail, being given the keys. Day of the search I assigned AW to brief and debrief the teams. Local forest ranger whispers in my ear that no African-Americans have ever lived in this county. Oops there is a time not to be political, I made no changes. 1990 Census shows 7 blacks now live in county. Body never located.

ISSA14-41 I don't recall my log says A quick and easy water search. Able to walk out.

ICSA10-42 42 yo four wheeler in a station wagon. Frog Levels. Pegasus willing to fly us but I refused since a tornado was spotted in the area. Four wheeling, heart attack, female passenger goes for help and becomes lost. What I remember the most was the cases of real CokeTM. Able to walk out

SC5-43 7 yo . Incident made Rescue 911 television show. Introduction to Urban searching. Everyone thought she was in the pond. However, standard searching calls for a larger area. She had been kidnapped and stabbed and left for dead. Fortunately she survived and was found in time by a dog team. Required evacuation

ICSMA212-44 19 yo despondent. The N Incident. I'm fatigued, tired, and overwhelmed. I never would have thought at the age of 24 I would command a staff of 30 and direct 300 during a search. The search started Saturday, on the way to the search I told KC that in National Park searches we play a back role. When I arrived the rangers were confused about legal jurisdiction and decided I represented the state and let me be in charge. I worked all night Saturday and Sunday. I nearly flamed out and collapsed in the hotel. ICed Monday and went home Tuesday. I had not yet learned that IC can sleep. OPS on Wednesday and I had the chance to go out into the field. R was the big day with 300 personal. We had one case of anaphylaxis, the infamous BEE Mtn, one brown recluse bite, severe heat exhaustion, and several twisted ankles. It was rugged terrain during hot Virginia summer days. In the end 48 agencies, First use of a Level 1 interagency team on a search, search with the largest number of NPS rangers ordered, 245,000 man-hours, Half a million dollars spent, Use of unified command, Flying in man trackers from the Smokies, maintaining ASRC IC, 5 jurisdictions, Size of investigation up to 11 personal. In the end, Ellen days later the search was suspended. The subject had died of a drug overdose and was found by hunters in the high POA area. The sector had been searched to a cumulative POD of 95%. Well, one out of twenty times that means you fail. Located DOA

ICSMA46-45 The Faber incident. ? Required evacuation.

ISSC22-46 8 yo. Sky Meadows State Park. Flown in by Pegasus due to urgency. While we were coming in for a landing the pilot was told to watch out for two other helicopters in the air. 8 year old managed to hike 16 miles including going underneath Interstate 66. Early on I considered containment on the Appalachian Trail but we had a team on the far end working in almost immediately. I look at route 66 and thought about containment but said nah. He spent the night temperatures were about 35 degrees, in a log. His plan was to continue to follow the white blazes until they brought him some place! Walked out! Way out.

ICSMC24-47 12 yo. I remember thinking I really need a search where we found the subject like the good ole days. Missing glue sniffer bordering fort AP hill. Bruce and plotting out LORAN-C plots. Able to recruit 100 personal plus another 150 searching on the Army base. Had lots of people so we actually ran a 100 person line. I never thought such a thing would be my idea. The roughest grungiest, scariest group of guys on the line made the find. At least it made the reporter happy. Able to walk out

ICSA19-48 22 yo despondent. Quantico looking for a missing marine. Initial search was conducted by 200 marines who searched for a day but then went home for Christmas. This was a follow-up task. Started with a staff of five. At the end of the day I was the only one in base. Located DOA


ISSME10-49 Esmont II looking for the same ALZ patient that interrupted a SAR party. This time he was found by his family. Required evacuation.

FTLSC17-50 7 yo. The Candy search. WD's first search as IC. Missing 7 year old, the weather was warm, she was well dressed, and she had her pet pit bull to keep her company. The urgency was low. Wm was happy that I was present to help him with staff work. I started by writing tasks for the six dog handles present and some extra tasks. Finally, I decided this is my 50th search I'm going to do what I love the best. So when I sent out the last dog team I went along for the task. That taught Wm to give me a formal assignment next time. I spent the entire night on tasks and then went to sleep in my car. That morning my pager woke me up informing me of the status one find. PP made the find and instead of the standard "base secure the net" the radio operator heard an excited voice saying "I got Candy." Able to walk out.

ISSC12-51 14 yo runaway. First search using a man tracker in Virginia.. The subject finally walked out and waved down the police. Walked out.

ICCMA31-52 19 yo despondent. Three tracking dogs lead to the bridge over the river. Search suspended, breaking down the mast but its attached to the fire tower with a siren activated at a remote site. Questions arises who gets to take it down. In additions, thunderclouds and thunder was all around. This is what an IC is really for. Subject later found 25 miles downstream. Located DOA

ICSMA#-53 Alzheimer's subject. Greene County, My favorite search, arrived by myself to find about 50 people standing around. Sheriff told me I had 15 minutes to get all the teams out. I appointed a state police officer investigations, a dog handler as OPS, and the sheriff as staging to organize five teams, appoint a leader and set up a communications net. I then turned to the state police officer and asked where was I. In five minutes the sheriff returned and said all the teams were formed. I said ok send them in. As the first FTL walked in I glanced at the map and made the first task. The FTL of the second task said I was crazy for sending him the opposite direction from the subjects previous wanderings. After the third task was dispatched , BRMRG members finally arrived and were waiting for direction from me. The subject was then located 23 minutes after my arrival in briars after crossing a major road. Required evacuation.

ICSME72-54 55 yo psychotic. Fluvanna. Started on the hood of a police car, took over next door neighbors house, finally moved to a church house. DH first search as a staff member. Had an entire house to ourselves. Basement had major mold problems. Staff slept upstairs in a classic case of upstairs/downstairs. Learned about the difficulty of setting up a major division in the field in response to a hot clue. Teams were tasked to walk in creeks. Unfortunately a short member was assigned to the creek were she was later found. Therefore, they skipped the one deep pool she managed to fall into. Once again, worked well with the CAP. The CAP Mission Coordinator even picked me up after I filled by 97 Octane car with diesel fuel. Oops, at least it wasn't an airplane. Located DOA

ICSI4-55 Arlena- I forget but he walked out.

ICS3A18-56 Three lost hikers, Using the exact same base as before. Once again the find occurred while I was in the bathroom. Walked out.


ICSME13-57 Alzheimer's. Hopewell, Mission base was run right out of the police station in the middle of town. You could watch the monitors to check on the jail prisoners when you were bored. A trailing dog claimed to be on a hot track. It went into the swamp and kept going. After 12 miles of this trail I shook my head. The subject was found 0.1 mile from the PLS buried in mud up to his head, severely hypothermic, Med-flight out, core temp 68F. He survived other than having Alz. Required evacuation

ICSMW13-58 Alzheimer's. I started off as deputy OPS. I had plenty of staff and got to assign the Virginia State SAR Coordinator to a field task. A team located a sugar packet. Investigation found she had a habit of picking them up from the cafeteria. A second team was dispatched to the area and made the find. Required evacuation

ISSC8-59 5 yo. The search was really messed up, media running everywhere, FTLs standing around for four-five hours. Staff members being sent out as FTMs. Trackers who mistook raccoon tracks for children tracks resulting in the states best tracker being flown in the Governor's plane. I was slated to become IC in six hours so I ran and hid. While driving around with the RA I found several team members who had lost their team, FTLs who lost there team, 16 year old ESARS working as FTLs. In the end the child was found by a renegade team who was friends of the father who had allegedly set up the search to collect reward money. No reward money was ever rewarded. Able to walk out

ICSME24-60 Wise, the land of missing mountains. Draw up a task to follow a ridge and the ridge would be gone. Other tasks following steep valleys were now flat fields. Investigation showed the subject said he would be gone for three days and then show up. He did.

ICCA17-61 4 dogs and a Lady. Beaten by husband she ran off. After about 10 in the morning the search was under control and I set a management first, an IC can sleep. Pitched a tent in the middle of the field. Then the find came in and I listened to staff members debate if they should wake me up or just let me sleep. Able to walk out

ICSME47-62 68 yo Alzheimer's. Surry Find made by Army troops that got lost. They built a stretcher to carry her out. Required evacuation

ICS2A6-63 2 hikers. Sherando Lake- Walked out.

ICSMA13-64 45yo runaway. REMEMBER TO SEARCH THE HOUSE. Able to come out of basement

ICSME27-65 73 yo Alzheimer's. Richmond city- Base camp was in the middle of the state Fairgrounds which we shared with a pig roast. Two air scent dogs alerted on each other. Unfortunately, they were standing only twenty feet away from the subject who managed to find the only ditch with some water to fall into and die of hypothermia. Several ground team members where assigned to the team who searched the area but it was at night. This search formed the basis to Mark Pennington's paper on Urban Searching, later presented at a NASAR conference. Found DOA

ICSMA18-66 42 yo despondent. Initial base phone was a party line. Could hear the other parties listening in when phone in reports to the state. The invasion of helicopters after I left. First time state used mounted horse units on a search. Worked out well, since they made the find in a wooded search sector. Found DOA

RA2-67 State training. Had to perform a real semi-tech rescue when our student fell down. Required evacuation.


FTMSC18-68 5 yo. Searching the suburbs of Fairfax County. The ASRC was not contacted for the initial search which involved hundreds of people and lots of chaos. We got called about three weeks later. I was more than happy to be back out in the field and not in management. Body never located.

FTLSMA18-69 56 yo despondent. Virginia Beach. DH played OPS no need for staff. Searching in the swamp my task was to check out the small hills. So I spent the day running up and down hills. At the end of the search we noticed that DH had worked in one corner of Virginia so she needed to go all the way and reach the extreme other corner. So off to the Beach we went and stuck our feet in the ocean. During this search I started to notice that despondent subjects either 3-5 miles or go only 100-500 yards from the PLS. Found DOA

ISSA13-70 26 yo. hiker. Find them and arrest them. During the investigation for a missing female it was discovered she was wanted on a drug charge in another state. She was found by Pegasus which threw out some supplies from the bird. Just missed hitting her on the head. After she was loaded into the ambulance, taken to the hospital, and checked out, she was then arrested. Required evacuation

ICC2C22-71 Richmond, Two missing little boys. First major urban search in the middle of the bad parts of Richmond. Over a hundred untrained volunteers checking out sewers and dumpsters. Charles and company hears bullets whizzing over their head and the sounds of shotguns being cocked. Called for police assistance and had a major police response. During the festivities I was asleep and informed in the morning. Base itself was surrounded by marked cars and plainclothes police patrolling to keep it secure. The subjects were unfortunately murdered and later found in the city dump. One found murdered, second unknown

CCAC6A163-72 Aircraft, 6 souls on board. Manassas, snippets of a monster, Press interviews, family briefings every two hours with 100 family members present, family idea of how to run the search, scope of the search (99 ASRC one day, CAP from three states), how to communicate with teams all spread out (team members, radio checks), BB and Andy as logistics ( hotels food porta johns telephones computers, Submarine rock, taking over a hanger, and private store, then flight instruction area. Family members everywhere. Bob's return (the list of problems). The find. The extra day of shutting down base. The flight home. All six DOA

ICSAC2A-73 Missing aircraft. Flown to Winchester to take a Nap. Hurry up and nobody. Found DOA

ISSACA18-74 Missing aircraft. Disputanta, flying at 10,000 feet through a thunderstorm when it disappeared from radar. Search in swamp like area. Plotted NTAP data after Manassas learning point . Parts found, AB lowered into crash site by helicopter. All his SAR fantasies fulfilled. Found DOA

ICSMA13-75 55 Alzheimer's. Dog team handler uses nose and buzzards instead of dog's nose. Found DOA

ICSA27-77 64 Alzheimer's. Arvona- DS gets his big search which held up his IC. Base was in a Pentecostal fundamentalist church building. Found the patient hiding under his trailer. Able to crawl out

ICSC34-77 6 yo. I got to be a FTM on a dog task, a FTL on a hasty, Division Supervisor to find a crack house, and panties, and finally IC. I had fun making the rounds as IC. Found DOA, buried in shallow grave by air-scent dogs

FTLPAC16-78 Shenandoah NP baby sitting a plane. Everyone had survived the crash. I made sure the plane did not run away. Able to walk out!


ICCME24-79 Richmond again. Pitching tents in the middle of the parking lot. I slept on a board placed between the seats in the DC's trailer. Found DOA

GSSE6-80 DS's first search, I didn't stay long just long enough to help him get started. I helped make maps. Able to walk out

ICSME12-81 81 yo Alzheimer's. Helped with a night shift of the Stuart's Draft shift. Staff was having a great disagreement over a strategic concern. After listening to them argue and bicker for five minutes we finally did a Matteson. Seemed to solve the problem. Learned the value of keeping the same IC as long as possible. Search had over 6 IC and a lot of information was lost. Found DOA

FTLSA16-82 25 yo drowning. Search formally ran by Scottsville Rescue Squad. IS member running the search and doing a fine job. David was in base assisting. I was more than happy to go out into the field. To transport the team we got a boat ride. Another boat lost its engine and started drifting away. This gave the rescue boats something to do. Found DOA

GSSMC-84 16 yo. runaway. New IC forced to face the difficult decision to field promote SAR members to field team leaders. Able to walk out

ICSMA9-84 42 yo psychotic. Paper find. Long chit-chat with police officer. Finally cut him off. Third task out made find.. Able to Walk out

ICCAC28-85 Aircraft. Mountain Airport, another airplane search with great urgency. DH and I drive down in the middle of the night and find nobody at the airport. They had shut down for the night and gone off to a hotel. So we played on the runway a little bit and then went to sleep in her car. In the morning we started the search up. NTAPs helped us find the plane almost right away. WD finally arrived after the find was made. He was grounded by fog. The IC flew into the airport in the fog. Only half of the runway was clear because it wasn't flat. After the find it took several hours to reach and secure the crash site. We commandeered a helicopter and logging vehicle to reach the crash. During the long wait we watch a video about plane crashes. Found DOA

ISSMA14-86 47 yo despondent. Dalgren on the Potomac, DHand I flip to see who gets to be IC. She won. Search ran well. Found DOA

ICCME5-87 We arrived, we looked at the maps, we knew where to send people, all the rescue people where in the field, the find was made in spite of us, we filled out forms taking longer than the search. Required Evacuation.

ICSME6-88 We arrived after getting lost, we looked at the maps, we knew where to send people, the rescue people went into the field, the find was made in spite of us, we filled out forms, we tacked notes on mission base for missing searchers, we went home. Able to walk out

SMA6-89 Fight with a wife, no memory Able to walk out

ISSMA36-90 64 yo psychotic. LH jumping on my lap as Mark is briefing me. Watching dog handlers get themselves lost. Showing I can still go out into the field. Attempting to function in a crowed base, as team members constantly run the dryer. Eating meals with all the mentally disadvantaged residents. Can we say fried chicken. Becoming IC during the last task since DH wanted to go out into the field. Wandering around watching teams on task. Found DOA

ICSME60-91 Alzheimer's . Last search of 91. The Christmas eve search. GS made me debriefing officer, so in the morning I cracked open a book and waited until the teams started coming back. Decided on a big final push so we had State Police SWAT team, and all sorts of teams out of Pennsylvania. Tracking dogs went four different directions. Andy once again managed to scourge up a hotel. I intended to stay at base and help BH who was coming in the middle of the night to replace LH. Instead I talked into sleeping in a real bed. The only problem was the entire command staff managed to oversleep by an hour and a half. When I returned to base I found about 100 people standing around. I gave an initial mass briefing, then had JB give the subject briefing since I forgot the subjects name. All teams were deployed in 45 minutes. Found DOA


ICCMA24-92 My staff and their elaborate plans to encircle the psychotic patient. After developing the wonderful plan, I mention searcher safety and the role of volunteers. The staff will not forget the lesson. We found the patient but he kept running away from us. Able to walk out.

ICSME10-93 64 yo. Alzheimer's. GS and I flip a coin to see who will be IC. When we arrive everyone is leaving from searching all night. They hand us a county highway map with a few squiggles showing where they have searched. The next moment we look around there is nobody in the entire squad building and we have no information about the subject at all. We also discover the family is upset because nothing is being done but we don't know who or where they are. Finally, we call the 911 center to see if they have any information. Eventually, they wake up a poor dazed officer who only got an hour of sleep after not sleeping for 48 hours. We send an investigator off with him and the search is up and running. EG also makes her first appearance and gets the fun base job of producing maps using a broken down copier. We were missing one of the needed quads from the locker and Dogs East also forgot to bring the correct topo. Finally we had DES FAX us the needed section. RW decided to keep the MSO class going. We both had to leave and we needed a new IC. I placed a desperate call to WD and DH. In the end the runner from DES bringing us the real topo turned out to be MP so he became IC. Soon afterwards, WD arrived. Then DC arrived. After we left SMRG canceled their simulation and GS and GSII arrived. Finally, once RW was done teaching He and DH arrived.. By the end seven IC were preset. The subject was located buried in mud and severely hypothermic just before a major thunderstorm started. Required Evacuation

ICCME60-94 63 yo Alzheimer's. Real mountains guns everywhere. Upon arriving the staff had been up all night for a simulation and responded to this search first. They were dazed, somewhat clueless and happy to see me. A chit-chat with RW (who immediately turned the search over to me) and we soon had the search up to speed. Lots of volunteers with wonderful communications. Working with a all new staff . Search controversial suspension but was spooled back up the next weekend. Weather turned bad. Funeral home tarps set up. Working with same staff which was now up to speed. Food Galore. Base had no structure so it was tents, generators, and trailers. Generator killed the copier and had to find a back-up. For dinner they brought in three barbecue grills and cooked up hamburgers and chicken to order. At night the staff and myself raided the food tent and stole off with cakes and cookies for those late night staff meeting (of one). One team of big macho slightly out of control CAP members calls into to base to ask what to do about the snake in the trail. Base advice: go around it. During the mission briefing on the last scheduled day of the search I make the brilliant observation that we manage to find several of our subjects on the last day of the search. Well we did! Found DOA

ICCA8-95 46 yo hiker. Strange to be running a search in Sugar Hollow. When I initially arrived one of the police officers was doing their best to keep me away. Fortunately, Commander Martin soon spotted me and immediately called me into the car. We then chatted for about twenty minutes. I finally, cut him off to start up the search. The husband of the subject hung out in the command van which I found irritating because I have to be more political. Turns out he was WM's professor who helped him into grad school. Subject found by EG running her mouth talking with a team member instead of yelling out the patient's name. At least it worked. Able to walk out

SC8-96 Maryland Hot tub. Nobody from local SAR teams free to respond. They forgot to tell us the subject had been found hours ago. Paged WD from a pay phone answered as ASRC sub dispatch. Went to LH house. Spent the night in the hot tub and initially ignored the other search going on. Able to walk out

ICSMA54-97 The night observation task, the radio giggles, watching my planning staff come up with the note strategy. The searchers who never showed up. Massive ran storms. Found DOA

SSC37-98 7 yo. Old Ragg III. Same maps we used before, same sectors. Thinking the park was insane for not using a helicopter, but then arriving in the morning and seeing all the snow and ground fog. Subject found by containment team. After this search several signs were erected in the park that have since significantly reduced the number of searches on Old Ragg. Able to walk out


SA9-99 Louisa, everything going wrong search. After 50 searches as an IC one would think they could perform the job in ones sleep. Wrong! A finally tuned search takes a lot of endless hard work and maybe some luck. This time I had dog handlers leave, tracking dogs without radios, helicopters who can't spot, a moving base, DES obnoxious to staff, and WM changing command. Base in someone's house, the searchers who leave. Able to walk out

#100! My 100th search was in Shenandoah National Park during the Blizzard of 93. The Snowshoe search. I decided I would have nothing to do with management in order to celebrate my 100th.  Seeking a field position, I found myself shoveling snow so the media could park their cars! Found 2 adults and 6 children able to walk out. 2546 bobhours (106 solid days), 50 IC, 24 IS, 29 FTL, 5 helos, 5 planes, 37S1, 21S2, 33S3

Sac98-101 7/93 Hauge Aircraft 1 soul
Search area based upon NTAP and sightings. Developed good relationship with family. Our division ended once investigation found the low flying airplane. Family continued search in Maryland and found the plane using our search tactics. Found DOA

SAC2A10-102 10/93 Charles City Missing Aircraft. Found DOA

SMA24-103 10/93 Altonna, PA Despondent search. Subject met the typical profile for find location. Found DOA

SI10-104 10/93 Buckingham Missing two year old. Searched all night. Found at first light. Required evacuation.

SMY8-105 11/93 Schylar Alzheimer’s Patient. Another typical pattern. Found DOA.



SMA6-106 1/94 Powhaton ? Able to walk out.

SMA8-107 4/94 Newport News Psychotic search. Patient found in psychotic ward by investigative task. Value of calling both ER and psychiatric ward of hospitals. Last search working with LH. Patient found in hospital

SMA58-108 5/94 Scott-Wise Despondent search. On going investigation regarding possible murder. Arrived as a badly needed type I IC. Patient found DOA.

SME10-109 6/94 Stafford Alzheimer’s Search. Classic profile. Patient required evacuation.

SA12-110 7/94 Albemarle Runaway Police investigation uncovers hidden Post Office box. Investigative find.

SA14-111 9/94 Craig Missing camper. A "tame" deer attacks one of the search teams. First use of search & rescue mountain bike team. Able to walk-out.


SA45-112 1/95 Montgomery Accident Crashed car and ran into flood swollen stream. Found DOA.

AC22-113 7/95 Maryland Missing Aircraft. Found using careful analysis of NTAP data. Found DOA.

A6-114 8/95 Albemarle Missing rafter on James River. Able to walk-out.

MA6-115 9/95 Page Able to walk-out.

A48-116 9/95 Lee Missing Ginsing hunter. Flown to search by CAP. Investigation uncovered a cliff he frequented as a youth. Subject was located at the bottom of the cliff by a hasty team. While initially paralyzed subject eventually regained total use of all limps. A complex semi-technical evacuation was required. Evacuation

E4-117 11/95 Nelson Elderly hunter had a sudden loss of vision. Found by investigative effort. Evacuation required.


A24-118 1/96 Lancaster, PA Subject fell into frozen river chasing his dog is the most likely explanation. Found DOA.

E36-119 4/96 Bridgewater Despondent. Good use of tracking to show she entered water. Body went over dam and went further downstream than normal. Importance of safety in water operations. Found DOA.

ME24-120 7/96 WV Alzheimer’s Search. First search as part of my prospective study. Incorrect investigation had misdirected the search for two days. Found DOA.

MA40-121 9/96 SNP Despondent who was actively hiding from searchers. Able to walk out.

ME36-122 10/96 Madison Alzheimer’s search. First Virginia find of a missing person by using CAP aircraft. Evacuation required.

C44-123 10/96 Prince William Missing Child. Search in Washington DC media market so it quickly became a type I search with two divisions. Over 100 divers used to search an inlet. Subject found DOA.

MC8-124 10/98 Stafford Missing child.

"The home alone search." Able to walk out.

MA14-125 11/96 Chesterfield Despondent. Found in pond. Found DOA.

A14-126 12/96 Madison Abduction. Assist to local law enforcement. Body never located.

MA16-127 12/96 SNP Despondent

Able to walk out


2C60-128 3/98 Spotsylvania Abduction Two sisters abducted. Largest Type I search. Two divisions. Over 650 searchers on largest day. Search totaled 21,690 manhours over four days. Helped give direction and purpose to community. Search established good relationship with Secretary of Public Safety. Excellent cooperation of all agencies. Sisters located DOA/murdered.

C6-129 4/97 Stafford Lost Child. Located alive and well.

A6-130 -/97 Madison Despondent. Classic location found. Made find with second task. Found DOA.

MA16-131. 9/97 SNP Elderly Requested directly by SNP. They placed me on the payroll as an emergency firefighter in order to function as the plans officer. Search for alleged poacher who became lost. Able to walk out.

E16-132 10/97 Albemarle Despondent. Located through investigation. Able to walk out.

E8-133 10/97 Greene Alzheimer’s. Possible statistical outlier but followed general pattern. Evacuation required.

Observer AC24-134 -/97 VA Missing Aircraft. Served as observer on several flight. Aircraft never located.


SMA9-135 3/98 Martinsville Mentally handicapped adult. After transfer from type III IC, made find with first task out.

SC14-136 4/98 Orange Missing child. Strong state response. Able to walk out.

ME18-137 4/98 Suffolk Alzheimer’s search. Subject walked into lake. Found DOA.

SC24-138 /98 Shenandoah Missing child Search based upon same location as previous training session. Able to walk out.

SME16-139 /98 Martinsville Alzheimer’s subject. Good start by CSAR. Combo MR/Alz. Suspend

SME14-140 10/98 King&Queen Alzheimer’s Found in high POA. Went into swamp. Able to walk out.


SE6-141 1/99 Sperryville Elderly hiker caught in ice storm. Able to walk out.

SC-142 2/99 Shenandoah Lost child. Drowning in stream behind house. DOA

SME14-143 3/99 Chatam Alzheimer’s Able to walk out

SAC24-144 /99 Manasas II Aircraft DOA

SME4-145 /99 Nelson Alzheimer’s disease. Good data collected. Able to walk out.

SC28-146 7/99 Albemarle Child Type I search. Excellent cooperation with local PD. Able to walk out.

SC4-147 12/99 Greene Child Runaway who covered several miles and crossed mountain. Able to walk out.

SMA11-148 12/99 Buckingham Mental Retardation. First find with night time FLIR. Did the first deputy IC position. Able to walk-out.


ICSCSIII-149 2/00 Nelson County 8yo Child.  Type I search lasting 2.5 days.  Found DOA

ICSMASI-150  6/00 Staunton.  Runaway from local mental hospital.  Had previous history of spending three days out in the woods.  Which is just what she did. Able to Walk out

FTLSMASI-151 7/00 Rockingham.  Nice to get out in the field again.  The find occurred 5 minutes before I was scheduled to become the IC. Able to Walk out

ICSMASIII-152 9/00 Keswick.  Despondent search on a historic farm where the father of Lewis (of Lewis and Clark) is buried.  Teams did a good job of finding clues, even in the dark and pouring rain.  Found DOA

ICSHASIII-153    9/00 Madison.  Yet another search for Ginseng hunter.  Just about have enough cases to make a separate behavioral profile.  Large type I search due to difficult terrain.  Worked closely with SNP in a unified command.  Found DOA.

ICSHASIII-154 x/00 Shannandale  Hunter with a severe heart and diabetic condition.  Search in WVA.  Found DOA.

IC/FTLSASI-155 11/00 SNP/Little Devils Stairs  Two hikers who made two wrong turns and actually backtracked.  Found in the network of trails.  SNP due to a major fire had only one ranger in which to assign to this search.  Able to Walk out.

ICSACSIII-156 11/00 Nelson County.  Missing Aircraft.  Working off NTAP data.  This was one of the 20% cases where the plane was not even close to where our division was located.  Found DOA.


Position # of Searches
Incident Commander 94
Incident Staff 35
Field Team Leader 31
Total Search Hours 3496* 1/00

Current as of January 1, 2001

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