Air Force combat rescue officer Jesse Peterson turns mission into bedtime story into book for more reasons than one
A Rush City native has written a children’s book based on one of his Guardian Angel community’s many true-to-life rescue missions.
Major Jesse Peterson, who graduated from Rush City High School in 1994, was part of an elite team of pararescuemen that was honored last year for a successful U.S. Air Force mission in an enemy-controlled Afghan valley in 2011.
As difficult as that mission was, Peterson said a year ago, he confessed to feeling much more at risk when responding to a plane crash on a remote Alaskan glacier during a blizzard in the summer of 2010. Because of his team’s efforts, the pilot and four tourists were saved.
Peterson, a combat rescue officer for the Air Force, has since written and published a book called “Guardian Angel – Rescue on the Glacier,” which is about the Alaska rescue mission. A 50-page, 8 by 10-inch hardback, the children’s action/adventure book is illustrated by Manuela Soriani and published by Rescue Me Publishing.
“I’ve been working on the project over the last 18 months,” Peterson told the Post Review last week. “‘Guardian Angel – Rescue on the Glacier’ started out as a story I wrote for my daughter while I was deployed, and it’s turned into something quite a bit bigger — something that has the potential to touch the lives of thousands of children.”
He also hopes to raise money for the That Others May Live Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides immediate tragedy assistance for families of Air Force rescue heroes who have been killed or injured during operational or training missions.
“The idea came to me as I was reading bedtime story after bedtime story to my little girl about make-believe adventures led by characters like Dora the Explorer and Buzz Lightyear,” Peterson explained. “Of course she loved them, as all children do, but they just seemed to lack substance and a little dose of reality.”
So it dawned on him that kids may enjoy hearing some nonfiction stories about everyday people from the rescue community.
“There is no shortage of amazing stories to tell, so I took it upon myself to write just one of them down, coordinate for illustration and get it published,” Peterson said. “The process has been far more taxing than I ever would have imagined, but it’s also been rewarding and an incredible learning experience.”
The goal of the book project is to generate interest to raise $10,000 for the That Others May Live Foundation.
“Our small Guardian Angel community has unfortunately taken quite a toll over the last few years, and many of us have witnessed the impact of the foundation’s generosity in the wake of various tragedies,” he said. “It’s awe inspiring and contagious.”
Another goal, Peterson continued, is to personally share the story and others like it with at least one elementary school classroom per month.
“Everywhere we go, both children and adults are curious about what it takes to become a Guardian Angel team member,” he noted. “They also love to hear about the equipment we use for various rescues or what an average day is like for (us). Our small community keeps very busy while we’re at home training, but we also enjoy getting out into the general public to share our experiences and answer questions of that sort.”
About the book
“Guardian Angel – Rescue on the Glacier” is based on the rescue of a pilot and four tourists whose plane crashed on a remote Alaskan glacier during a blizzard in the summer of 2010. Peterson shared a first-hand account of the rescue a year ago with the Post Review.
“The plane crashed at 8500 feet, and we didn’t think they were going to survive very long out there in the storm,” he said. “Our helicopters dropped four of us off underneath the weather (about 3,000 feet below the crash site and 5 miles away), and we started skiing up through the blizzard with warm clothes and medical equipment for the survivors.”
It ended up taking Peterson and crew about 24 hours of climbing to navigate around obstacles and reach the crash site.
“Our two teams got separated and somehow managed to not fall in any crevasses,” he said. “Then the helicopter, trying to land up there to get us all off the mountain, crashed right in front of us and rolled a few times down the glacier. The ordeal lasted almost four days. Each of us experienced frostbite and hypothermia, and the family inside the crashed plane (visiting from Texas) got quite a bit more than they bargained for on their ‘flight-seeing’ tour, which was only supposed to last a few hours.”
The book is currently available on Amazon.com by searching Guardian Angel – Rescue on the Glacier.