USAF Airmen rescue injured sailor in Pacific Ocean
Officials from the 129th RQW sent two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and one MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, accompanied by one Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules tanker from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, to pick up Michael Kalahar, a 56-year-old sailor from Port Angeles, Wash., who had suffered life-threatening head and neck injuries aboard his sailing vessel WIND CHILD. The 129th rescue aircraft also recoveredÂ the four-man pararescue team, also based here with the 129th, that had respondedÂ to the original call.
Responding to a call from U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda, Calif., April 1, the four pararescuemen, or PJs, were picked up here by a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and flown to the WIND CHILD 1,400 miles southwest of La Paz, Mexico. With limited aircraft fuel and no other meansÂ to recover the victim, the PJs parachuted from the HC-130 into the ocean with a Zodiac boat and enough medical supplies to sustain the injured sailor’s life for several days.
April 2, controllers at the Eleventh Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center used their Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel RescueÂ system to divert a Liberian registered merchant vessel, the CAP PALMERSTON, enroute to Ensenada, Mexico, to rendezvous with the sailing vessel and pick-up the PJs and their patient. The AMVER program is sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard and is a voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.
Because of the distance from shore, strong winds and high seas, officials decided to wait until the vessel was closer to the coast beforeÂ sending additional rescue aircraft to retrieve the PJs and transport the patient to a ground-based medical treatment facility.
Following the transfer of the patient and PJs from the small sailboat to the large container vessel, the ship set course to San Diego.
Aircraft and personnel from the 129th RQW formed a Search and Rescue Task Force and prepositioned themselves at Naval Air Station North Island April 3. The following afternoon, the rescueÂ team of two HH-60Gs, one MC-130P and one Marine KC-130J tanker made contact with the crew of the CAP PALMERSTON. The HH-60 crew hoisted the patient and PJs from the ship to the helicopter, while the MC-130P and KC-130 served as refueling platforms and command and control for the Search and Rescue Task Force.
The PJs provided life-saving medical aid while awaiting the arrival of the 129th rescue aircraft and during the flight to San Diego, where the patient was transferred to a hospital in La Jolla, Calif.Â All task force aircraft successfully returned to Naval Air Station North Island and MCAS Miramar late in the evening April 4.
“With the Air Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard working together over the course of four days, this was truly a joint-forces life saving effort,” said Col. Amos Bagdasarian, 129th Rescue Wing commander. “From the mountains of Afghanistan to the high seas of the Pacific, 129th rescuers never cease to live up to their creed, ‘That Others May Live.’”
This rescue brings the total number of people saved by members of the 129th RQW to 909.
Source and picture: USAF