Kenneth L. Gerondale helped to save Donald C. Seiler from burning, Anchorage, Alaska, August 3, 1951. A jet-propelled military airplane Seiler, 24, was flying crashed and ripped apart in a wooded swamp, felling trees over an area 300 feet long at the shore of a lake. The section of the fuselage enclosing the cockpit remained intact. Seiler, who was secured to his seat by a safety belt and shoulder harness, sustained severe injuries, including a fractured skull, and was rendered unconscious. A tree fell across the cockpit and partly covered him. Gasoline draining from the wreckage was ignited, and scattered flames a foot high rose from the ground for a radius of 12 feet from the cockpit. Dense flames rose 30 feet above one of the wing sections. Machine-gun ammunition was strewn over the ground and began discharging at rapid intervals. The crash attracted several men, including Gerondale, 22, commercial airline pilot, who responded to the scene, with another man, by seaplane. They entered the clearing. Seven other men proceeded in automobiles to the edge of the swamp and made their way on foot for a quarter-mile to the clearing. Advancing through the scattered flames, the men removed the tree and obtained holds on Seiler. As Gerondale ran to a burning ammunition magazine four feet from the cockpit and hurled it into the wooded area beyond the swath, others of the men released Seiler’s safety belt and cut his shoulder harness. The flames on one wing section 10 feet from the cockpit then were six feet high. Raising Seiler from the seat, Gerondale and others of the men carried him from the fire area and continued to the lake. Within two minutes after they had left the airplane, a violent gasoline explosion occurred near the cockpit. Seiler was flown to a seaplane base, then removed to a hospital. He recovered in six months.
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