Jump Ranger Jump

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville. He thinks it’s cool to live in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. He does not think it cool to live in a prov­ince that taxes books. Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

I have never imag­ined my­self as heroic. If I were ap­pear­ing in an old west­ern movie, I’d be the bank teller the rob­bers gun down in the open­ing scene.

New­found­land Ranger Jack

Ho­gan — the sub­ject of Earl B. Pil­grim’s Jump Ranger Jump [DRC Pub­lish­ing] — was heroic. In the movie he’d sur­vive un­til the fi­nal scene and get to ride off into the sun­set.

Yeah, or some­thing like that, eh b’ys?

In the Fore­word, Nor­man Crane — a for­mer New­found­land Ranger — says, “I don’t know if he (Jack) was a hero but he was a fel­low with a lot of guts.”

No ar­gu­ment from me.

On May 8th, 1943, gutsy Jack Ho­gan — a man who you couldn’t kill “with a maul” — jumped out of a burn­ing Ven­tura bomber in the vicin­ity of Hawke’s Bay, New­found­land.

Granted he was wear­ing a para­chute, but here’s the Great Big Oops — the plane was not on fire; there was no need to bail out: “Jack was the vic­tim of some­one else’s panic.”

En route from Goose Bay to Gan­der, the bomber filled with smoke … be­cause of paint burn­ing off a re­cently painted heater as it turned out. In the en­sur­ing panic among the crew and pas­sen­gers the emer­gency door was opened and one man was sucked from the fuse­lage. A sec­ond man, his para­chute only partly strapped on, was dragged from the plane. Fol­low­ing him, Cor­po­ral Eric Butt, para­chute prop­erly buck­led, leaped into the air. Then, obey­ing ap­par­ent or­ders is­su­ing from the smoke — “Jump, Ranger, jump!” — Jack Ho­gan bailed out.

Mi­nus the four men gone out the emer­gency door, the plane flew on to Gan­der.

For frig sake!

Thanks to their para­chutes, Jack Ho­gan and Eric Butt reached the ground safely in the Hawke’s Bay wilder­ness. Their al­most fa­tal trou­bles be­gan af­ter they pitched.

Pilot Shel­don Luck re­ported after­wards that the first man out — a pay­roll clerk with “a brief­case hand­cuffed to his left wrist” — was de­cap­i­tated by the plane’s tail­fin. Some­time later, woods­men found the sec­ond man’s body tan­gled in his para­chute hang­ing from a tree.

(In the movie, I’d be one of those two poor bug­gers.)

Jump Ranger Jump is Earl Pil­grim’s ac­count of Jack Ho­gan’s and Eric Butt’s sur­viv­ing for a month and half in the en­vi­rons of Lady Worces­ter Moun­tain (Since, of­fi­cially re­named Ho­gan Hills).

Why were Ho­gan and Butt lost for so long? Here’s why — Be­cause of a lack of ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion, search par­ties were look­ing in the wrong part of the coun­try.

Truth be told, Ho­gan and Butt were not re­ally lost. Ho­gan, who once had lived in the area, knew where they were — kinda. He knew they were in the gen­eral area of Port Saun­ders and might have hiked out of the wilder­ness in a cou­ple of days ex­cept Butt’s frozen feet crip­pled him too much to walk the dis­tance.

When Jack Ho­gan jumped, wear­ing his Ranger’s uni­form his and his lo­gans laced to his knees, he was suit­ably dressed for con­di­tions on the ground — for May month in New­found­land. Eric Butt was not as for­tu­nate.

He lost his gaiters while parachut­ing down and, since his shoes were lit­tle or no pro­tec­tion, he soon froze his feet tramp­ing through the snow.

For days, Ho­gan coaxed — bloody well forced at times — Butt to keep mov­ing de­spite the mis­ery of his raw and blis­tered feet. Ho­gan even lugged Butt on his back un­til they even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered a trap­per’s shack on the shore of West Lake.

Here Jack de­cided to hold up and wait for res­cue. He would tend to Butt’s in­fected feet and try to keep him alive un­til they were found.

Stead­fastly — and hero­ically, eh b’ys? — Ranger Ho­gan stayed with Butt and kept him from dy­ing.

Ho­gan found means to snare an oc­ca­sional rab­bit that, along with fid­dle­head ferns and grass shoots, he stewed up in a tin ket­tle he’d found in the ru­ins of a sawmill. Ho­gan brewed spruce bud tea. Not the English break­fast tea Butt might have been used to back home in Jolly Old but he forced it down and stayed alive.

Ranger Ho­gan’s in­ge­nu­ity was re­mark­able. He plugged a leak­ing pan to make a wash basin. He fash­ion a bowl and eat­ing uten­sils from odd bits of board. Sure, with a short piece of ex­haust pipe he’d found buried in saw­dust, and a wooden plug to keep it wa­ter­tight, he Mac­gyvered a John­ny­pot for bedrid­den Butt.

Pub­lished in 2008, this book has given us the story of one of New­found­land’s un­sung — or sel­dom-sung — heroes. If you read it ear­lier, read it again.

No harm in singing a song the sec­ond time, eh b’ys?

Thank you for read­ing.

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