Eagle County rescue volunteers honored
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado – On Oct. 24, the Vail Mountain Rescue Group held a recognition dinner for two members who have made a significant contribution to the team over their lifetimes. Both George Feinman and John Milligan have been involved in backcountry search and rescue in Eagle County for about 25 years. Feinman and Milligan served as searchers in their early years, and later as mission coordinators.
“I’m happy to have this opportunity to recognize the commitment both John and George have shown to helping people who go into the back country of Eagle County,” said Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy, who presented the awards. “Both guest and locals have benefited greatly from their years of dedication. Their efforts and those of their fellow team members have been responsible for saving the lives of countless people who get in trouble past where the sidewalk ends.”
Milligan first joined the team in 1985 after he had heard the story of the rescue of a hiker with a broken leg from the Booth Creek drainage. Both Milligan and his wife, Diane, were new to the valley at the time and thought joining the team would be a good way to give back to the community they were coming to love.
Becoming a mission coordinator in 1996, John’s most memorable mission was the rescue in the Missouri Creek drainage of a young boy who had a severe head injury and might not have survived without prompt medical attention. With no landing zone in the area, this involved tricky maneuvering to insert the child into the back of a hovering helicopter from the Colorado National Guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Center based in Eagle. With their help, the team was able to get the child to medical attention in time to save his life.
Feinman first joined the team in 1989 and became a mission coordinator in 1998. His reason for joining the group is much the same as Milligan’s – it was a good way to give back to the community.
His most memorable mission was one of the seemingly unending series of searches on the Mount of the Holy Cross that continue to this day. In this 1997 mission, the team searched for eight days for Kathleen Kinderfather and had just about suspended the search because no clues had been discovered. On the last flight out, again in a helicopter from HAATS, George saw part of Kathleen’s arm sticking our from under a rock and directed the pilot to her position. The helicopter hovered and one crewman and a rescuer jumped out, got Kathleen into the ship and to the hospital, saving her life.
The Vail Mountain Rescue Group presented both Milligan and Feinman with the national Mountain Rescue Association’s Distinguished Service Award.
While neither John nor George is currently active in the organization’s day-to-day operations, both remain available as a resource, still giving back to the community after all these years.
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