A bachelor at the time, Fletcher lived on base in quarters for a little while.
“Then, I found other Air Force friends that were living off the base,” he said. “And my first place that I lived off the base was right here on Oak Street in Plattsburgh with three other Air Force guys, and I was the only Army guy. These were my buddies, OK. And one of those buddies of mine was the bombardier/navigator who died in that airplane crash. His name was Albert Kandetski. That was my buddy and my friend, and he lived with us in that Oak Street house with two other Air Force lieutenants.”
It was a typical mid-January, very cold and wintry.
“When I got to work the next day, the colonel who I worked for said, ‘I’m hearing that this B-47 didn’t come back from a training flight,’” Fletcher said.
“I told the colonel that my roommate was on that plane. I said, look, I’m an Army-trained individual with the Army Corps of Engineers. So I took extra training, and I was an Army Airborne Ranger.”
Fletcher told his commanding officer he had tons of training climbing mountains, navigating swamps and all kinds of crazy things.
“Not so much in the snow. I said notify the Air Force, whoever is in charge of this search and rescue. Tell them I will offer my services to be part of that search-and-rescue operation. If they want to use me, I will leave it up to them to contact me as long as you let me go, colonel. He said, ‘No problem lieutenant. Whatever they want you to do, you have my blessings to go ahead and do it.’”
Email Robin Caudellrcaudell@pressrepublican.com.
CRASH ON WRIGHT'S PEAK
This is the first installment of a series recounting Richard "Dick" Fletcher's remembrances of the B-47 crash in 1962.
Check out part two on next week's After 50 page.