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
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
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]