Airmen honored for rescuing missing hiker

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Three members of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Air Squadron were recently honored for locating and rescuing a missing hiker in at Purisima Open Space Reserve last year.

Richard “Butch” Pfeifer, Pete Callies, and Carl Mauck earned the Medal of Distinguished Service in connection with the successful rescue of a 60-year-old woman on April 14, 2019.

On that day, Air-1 was requested to help search for the hiker. After two hours of a meticulous aerial grid search, more information was discovered of a possible location, according to the sheriff’s office. Using Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology, the flight crew consisting of Pfeifer, Callies, and Mauck found a humanoid heat signature and provided specific GPS coordinates for the ground crew.

They located the missing hiker down an extremely wooded and overgrown ravine.

“Your efficiency, experience, communication and commitment to finding the missing hiker are a credit upon law enforcement and its highest tradition,” Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said while presenting the trio with Medals of Distinguished Service. “Personally, I will tell you without your efforts, this ending would have been very tragic.”

The Air Squadron has operated since 1947, when former military member Bill Ridenour saw the value of overhead surveillance in the county. In 2019 alone, they dedicated 2,675 hours to helping various law enforcement agencies and protecting neighbors, from finding missing people to tracking down bad guys, the sheriff’s office said.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

Virtual Awards Ceremony

As part of a virtual awards ceremony, we will be sharing a few remarkable stories with you over the next few weeks.This week we would like to recognize volunteer Air Squadron members Richard “Butch” Pfeifer, Pete Callies and Carl Mauck for their outstanding service to the community and their dedicated efforts to locate a 68-year-old hiker. On April 14, 2019, Air-1 was requested to help search for a missing woman at Purissima Open Space Preserve. After two hours of a meticulous aerial grid search, more information was discovered of a possible location. The flight crew, consisting of Richard “Butch” Pfeifer, Pete Callies, and Carl Mauck found a heat signature using Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and provided specific GPS coordinates for the ground crew. The ground crew located the missing hiker down an extremely wooded and overgrown ravine. We are incredibly proud of the Air Squadron's efficiency, experience, communication, and commitment to finding the missing hiker.Please join us in congratulating these gentlemen for this honorable acheivement.

Posted by San Mateo County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, August 30, 2020

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