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home : letters : letters June 25, 2016

9/26/2013 1:33:00 PM
The rest of the story

To the editor:

Thanks to the Beacon for printing a story about me in the happenings of fifty years ago. The story was about a helicopter search for two little girls from Minneapolis. The story is basically correct, but I feel a need to add to the adventure, making it more complete.

Two little girls, about 4 or 5 years old, from the south side of the Minneapolis inner city were missing and believed to be kidnapped in the late summer of 1963. A big headline deal for the Upper Midwest. The Minneapolis police put tremendous effort into finding the girls. No luck on getting any leads. One area that the Minneapolis police wanted to check out was the rooftops of all the apartment houses in the southern portion of downtown Minneapolis.

Law enforcement and media entities in that era did not have helicopters, but the Navy did. The Naval Air Station at Minneapolis had just received the H-34 Helicopters, used early in the Vietnam War by the Army and Marines for troop transport. The Navy put 800 pounds of sonar gear in the bird, and used it for anti-submarine detection. The Minneapolis police made a deal with the Navy to use the H-34, and got a waiver from the Feds (FAA) for low flying over heavily populated areas.

In walks LT. Callister, fresh off the farm to report for active duty for six months to train Navy Reserve pilots in the H-34. I was asked if I wanted to take two Minneapolis police detectives on a rooftop flight over downtown Minneapolis. I said "you betcha," and away we went. We spent the next hour scanning the downtown rooftops, but to no avail - - as anticipated. Perhaps the most scenic flight of my career.

On our return to the Naval Air Staion, operations informed us that the telephone was ringing off the hook about the horrible noise a Navy helicopter was making over downtown Minneapolis.

The sad part of the story is the little girls' bodies were found a few months later, and I believe - - suspects were found and convicted.

Bill Callister

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