A Naval Reserve mechanic who grew up in Lincoln has been commended for his role in rescuing three fellow hikers in a Maine state park.
"I don't know of too many young men that would have even considered taking on this task," Patti Faith of Altoona wrote in a letter to Aviation Structural Mechanic First Class Christopher Rosche. "I truly believe that you may have saved our lives."
Rosche, 38, assisted in the rescue of three women stranded overnight July 18 on the plateau of Mount Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park.
"Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5,267 feet, is a challenge for those in good physical condition," park Authority Director Irvin Caverly Jr. wrote. "On an average it takes eight to 12 hours per day to make a round trip climb from an elevation of about 1,000 feet to the mile high top."
Faith, 65, was there with Loretta Copeland, 81, of Ocala, Fla., and Nancy Keegan, 65, of West Palmetto, Fla.
"Chris remained with Nancy and me until we came to the end of the trail," Smith wrote to Rosche's commanding officer. "Loretta had to be carried by Chris and some others, then finally (was) rescued and taken by ambulance to a local hospital."
The weather didn't help.
"Rangers, in inclement weather conditions (rain and fog), proceeded up the trail for approximately 21?2 miles, and at 11 p.m. still had not come to the individuals," Caverly wrote in an activity report to state officials. "It was determined at that time it was unsafe to continue.
"At 7 a.m. the following morning staff headed up the mountain and located the three ladies who were accompanied at this point in time by Chris Rosche, another hiker who had come upon the party and stayed with them."
Copeland was taken to a hospital in nearby Millinocket, Maine, where she was kept overnight for observation then released.
In ceremonies at a suburban Philadelphia air station last week, Rosche received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for "meritorious service while performing multiple acts of selfless humanitarianism on 18-19 July" from Capt. D.J. Mahoney, Fleet Logistics Support Wing commander.
"Petty Officer Rosche encountered three stranded and exhausted elderly women ... one in need of immediate medical attention," Mahoney wrote. "Rosche's professional ability, initiative and loyal devotion to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
"He was sent to the state of Maine for training," said Rosche's mother, South Allegheny School Board President Dianne Rosche. "He's a mechanic on a C-130. He was sent up there to go to school."
Dianne and her husband, Lincoln Councilman Ronald Rosche, were on hand at Willow Grove Naval Air Station when their son was honored.
"On a Saturday when he was off from school was when he decided to hike that mountain," Mrs. Rosche said. "That's when it happened. On his own time he went. This is what he likes to do, hike and bike and fish and all those wonderful outdoor things.
"He encountered those three ladies on the mountain in distress. (Copeland) had gone too far and was in a bad way."
Christopher Rosche is a 1984 graduate of South Allegheny High School and a 17-year veteran of the Navy. He now lives in Lansdale, Montgomery County.
As Smith wrote to her rescuer, "May God bless you. You are a fine young man. You can tell your two little nephews of your adventure on Mount Katahdin."