Many thanks for all the positive thoughts on our trip to Skye. I am still tired despite it being two days since I was there. It did make me think as I spent so much time on the hill. It’s amazing what goes through your mind looking back. I had such great guys with me: Gus,Paul, Chris, Joe and Keith sadly not with us RIP.
My hill party that night were incredible all went beyond the normal in their efforts. The wee mountain was a dangerous place with fresh snow steep cliffs and wreckage that was so sharp all over the place. Add to that smell of fuel and burning also the trauma we saw when we located the crew. Yet we had no time to think as we had a job to do. In my life I was involved in many incidents yet this crash in Skye tested me in so many ways. It made me want to become a team leader in RAF Mountain Rescue something I never thought I would achieve.
People ask how you cope but I am so lucky to have met so many good folk over the years. Even after an event when you help the families come to terms many take years to do this. The job to me and many others is not just on the day of the incident but I know most teams do this to help families start “closure” on their loss. This is from a previous post where Sara M. Zak and her brother Steven Pitt son and daughter of 1/Lt Steven John Pitt who visited the crash site with myself in a hot day in 2019, After the trip Sara wrote these words.
“There were light moments when my brother and I joked about how Dad would like it if we had a beer and listened to Fleetwood Mac or Cat Stevens. The physical effort of climbing was intense, much more than I thought it would be but Adrian, Heavy and my brother, Steve, all had great patience with me. I was so glad for the physical struggle….it made the pain of the crash more bearable.
This experience has given me a bit more clarity, a bit of peace. I finally feel as if I have really visited my Dad; the gravestone in East Aurora, N.Y. was never his place for me. Skye is his home; I feel most at peace here. Part of that due to the wild beauty, part of it is the actual crash site but, I think, part of it is the love and concern shown by Adrian, Bridgette, Heavy, Anne (from Misty Isle Boat Trips) and every other kind person we met on Skye. I feel as if we have a family here. I can’t say a word of gratitude to describe the healing they’ve provided.
One final note….the grandeur of Skye’s mountains, the hard, jagged rock contrasted with the lush scenery. The imposing mountainscapes remind me of my smallness and humanness. They allow me to find peace with my circumstances. I feel surrounded by a nature that will go on once I’m gone but my moment on Sgurr na Stri will always be there. The crash and all those it effected can be cradled and wrapped up in the mountain; we can be a part of the story of Sgurr na Stri even when the story is long forgotten.” Sara “
A huge thanks to Adrian for all his help and the use of his photos. Also Simon for his incredible effort on the photo he was inspirational.
In memory of Maj Burnley Ruidiger and 1/Lt Steve Pitt