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January 29, 2014

Wright's Peak redux

Vermont man recalls placing plaque in memory of crew members

PLATTSBURGH — Richard “Dick” Fletcher’s memory is incised with the lone glove he and a search party found among the USAF B-47 debris at the summit of Wright’s Peak.

Fletcher descended the 4,587-foot peak to Adirondack Loj after it was determined that 1st Lt. Rodney Bloomgren (plane commander), 1st Lt. Melvin Spencer (co-pilot), 1st Lt. Albert W. Kandetski (navigator/bombardier) and Airman 1st Class Kenneth R. Jensen (observer) had perished in the Jan. 16, 1962, crash. 

Every step of the way was laden with the knowledge that Kandetski, his Hollywood-handsome housemate, had died.

‘AL’S FATHER IS HERE’

“I found a state trooper, and he was nice enough to give me a ride back to Plattsburgh Air Force Base,” said Fletcher, who was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the time and stationed at the base.

He was tired when he returned to his apartment and hadn’t had much to eat.

“I was there with my other roommates, and they said, ‘Al’s father is here, and he wants to have dinner with you tonight.’”

Fletcher showered, shaved, donned a uniform and drove to meet Albert Kandetski Sr. at the Officer’s Club.

“He was a very nice man and very thankful for what I was trying to do for him and his son. We had a nice meeting, nice chat, very emotional. It was an awful thing, so sad, losing his son.”

Mr. Kandetski gave Fletcher a book that had belonged to his son and told him he would be in touch.

INVITED ON CLIMB

As spring advanced and the snow pack retreated, more wreckage was revealed. The Stratojet was about 30 miles off course. Just 100 feet higher, the bomber would have cleared Wright’s Peak, but then Algonquin loomed right behind it.

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