Lee R. Vandenberg helped to save Leslie D. Huescher from drowning, Browning, Montana, June 8. 1964. Huescher, 41, ranch hand, was trapped by rapidly rising floodwaters from the Two Medicine River and climbed a tree in a grove on the ranch where he was employed. Among those who gathered at the edge of the floodwaters 450 feet from the tree were VandenBerg, 36, U.S. border inspector, and Henry P. Cobell. Attempts to aid Huescher were thwarted by the extremely swift current, and the water also contained heavy debris which uprooted some trees in the grove. Although word was received by radio that a dam had burst upstream and the crest of the water would reach the ranch in approximately an hour, VandenBerg said he would try to aid Huescher in a motorboat which previously had been nearly swamped by the current when others attempted to use it. Cobell volunteered to accompany him. The men launched the aluminum boat, which was 14 feet long and had a 10 horsepower outboard motor. VandenBerg, who had had little experience with such craft, maneuvered the boat with difficulty to within 100 feet of Huescher. The water contained uprooted trees, drowned cattle and horses, and parts of buildings. The current then swept the craft 50 feet rapidly downstream, but VandenBerg regained control of it. While Cobell used an oar to ward off debris, VandenBerg piloted the boat through less turbulent areas amid the trees and proceeded to within 20 feet of Huescher. Cobell held to a tree to steady the boat while VandenBerg moored it with a line. The motor had to be restarted twice. After throwing one end of a 100-foot rope to Huescher, VandenBerg tied the other end around the tree. Huescher tied the rope around his chest and lowered himself into the water, which was nine feet deep. While Cobell steadied the boat, VandenBerg with great effort drew Huescher through the swift current, aided him into the craft, and restarted the motor again. He cut the mooring line and proceeded 400 feet toward dry ground. There the motor became caught on a submerged wire fence and was wrenched partly off. VandenBerg held the motor in position as he guided the craft 50 feet to the edge of the floodwaters. Within 20 minutes the crest of water from the dam arrived, devastating the area.
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