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Fri, May 28, 2004

Yokota C-130 Helps Rescue Six Lost At Sea

A C-130 Hercules aircrew from the 36th Airlift Squadron (Yokota AB) helped a search-and-rescue mission May 21 when they spotted a missing 20-foot Micronesian sailing vessel about 120 miles off of the coast of Guam.

Six people, including a 10-year-old boy, were brought to safety after being lost at sea for nine days. The boat, crafted from a hollowed-out tree, was returning with two powerboats to the island of Ifalik after attending a funeral, when a fast approaching storm swept the canoe out to sea.

After a mission to Andersen Air Base, Guam, the C-130 aircrew was diverted to join a Navy P-3 and a Coast Guard C-130 in the search-and-rescue effort.

On the third day of the mission, the aircrew spotted a small boat and descended to about 300 feet verifying they had found the vessel. A Coast Guard C-130 was called in and its crew delivered food, water and a radio to the survivors.

“This was, by far, the most rewarding mission I had ever flown in the C-130,” said Capt. Jim Wall, the aircraft commander. “After we spotted the vessel, we made a hard left-hand turn right above the boat, and the crew could see the six survivors waving and clapping -- it was an amazing feeling.”

The six survivors were completely out of water and had only one coconut left when they were rescued, Captain Wall said.

The other C-130 crew included co-pilot Capt. Rod Keller, navigator Capt. Eric Dopslaf, flight engineer Staff Sgt. Dave Harwood, loadmaster Senior Airman Aron Lee, assistant crew chief Senior Airman Jason Carr and Staff Sgt. Jason Rice, a crew chief with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. [ANN Thanks Capt. David Westover, 374th Airlift Wing PA]

FMI: www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=92

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