Gale O. Shreffler saved Robert Dunn from burning, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 19, 1961. While Robert, 3, his 10-year-old sister, Linda, and their mother, Mrs. Mildred Dunn, were on the second floor of a brick dwelling, gas, which had been escaping from a main exploded. The blast buckled the walls, blew out all windows, dislodged most of the bricks, and demolished a portion of the structure. Flash flames shot through all of the rooms, burning Robert, Linda, and Mrs. Dunn to varying degrees before subsiding. The father, who was on the first floor, was more severely burned but climbed out through a window opening. Shreffler, 34, accountant, and Albert Collins, neighbors of the Dunns, ran to the dwelling and forced open the front door, the inside of which was on fire. Although fearing a second explosion, they then entered the building, passing within two feet of flames, which were burning on the woodwork, ceiling, drapes, and furniture of the first-floor rooms. One wall also was afire. Shreffler and Collins ascended the stairway to the second floor, where the heat was noticeable. They found Robert, Linda, and Mrs. Dunn in a bedroom where much of the plaster had fallen from the ceiling and small pieces of plaster continued to fall. Lifting Robert in his arms, Shreffler ran back down the stairway and out of the dwelling. Collins followed, leading Linda and Mrs. Dunn. Firemen extinguished the flames and then tore down the remaining walls, which were in danger of collapsing. The Dunns were hospitalized and recovered.
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Gale O. Shreffler, 90, of Plum, Pa., died on May 31, 2014. Born in Franklin, Pa., to Paul and Emma Shreffler, he was a first lieutenant navigator on B-29 Super Fortresses over Japan during World War II. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart.
After graduating from Kent State University, Shreffler was employed at U.S. Steel Corp. for 34 years as a manager of accounting.
In 1961, Shreffler received a Carnegie Medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for saving a 3-year-old boy from his burning home after a gas explosion.
He was buried in Plum Creek Cemetery in Plum.
(Edited from an obituary published on the website for the Maurice L. Knee Limited Funeral Home.)