Preston N. Miller helped to save Leonard Bostic from burning, Charleston, West Virginia, December 6, 1947. An airplane which Bostic, 26, was flying crashed on the steep slope of a thickly wooded ravine and came to rest upright on its fuselage. Flames eight feet high and smoke rose from the engine in the nose of the plane. Smaller flames covered one side of the fuselage, where the wing was partly ripped off, between the engine and the rear end of the cockpit, and also covered the underside of the fuselage beneath the cockpit. Miller, 25, bricklayer, and two other men ran to the airplane and, standing on the intact wing, removed a tree trunk that had fallen across the Plexiglas canopy of the cockpit. They tried to slide open the movable section of the canopy but could not. Miller, by kicking, and one of the other men, with a tree limb, broke out part of the Plexiglas. Miller reached through the opening and pulled Bostic, who was seriously injured and unconscious, to an erect sitting position as flames momentarily rose eight feet from the cockpit at the far side of the fuselage. With a knife, the other man severed Bostic’s safety belt and the shoulder straps of his parachute. When Miller and the other man pulled Bostic up through the opening to his waist, a minor explosion from beneath the cockpit caused them to stop momentarily. Aided by the third man, they pulled Bostic with difficulty onto the wing. The third man jumped to the ground and fell down from nervous weakness but rose and helped the other two rescuers carry Bostic away from the airplane. Thirty seconds later, flames 25 feet high rose from the cockpit and destroyed it. Miller’s throat was irritated from smoke, and he suffered extreme nervousness. He recovered. Bostic was hospitalized nearly four months, and he too recovered.
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