JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a man in a sinking raft in the Cook Inlet, April 22.
The distressed man placed a call to 911 to report that his raft was sinking and informed the Alaska State Troopers that he was between Fire Island and Kincaid Park. The AST then contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage to get assistance with the recovery effort after they lost contact with the man.
According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings, U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Anchorage watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting the assistance of other agencies in the immediate area and directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak to respond.
The Coast Guard’s Jayhawk was not expected to arrive until approximately two hours later, said Lt. Col. Karl Westerlund, director of the 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Alaska Air National Guard. Because of the time it would take the Jayhawk to get on scene, the Coast Guard requested assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard.
The Air Guard responded by diverting an HC-130 “King” aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with a team of Guardian Angel rescue personnel from the 212th Rescue Squadron onboard from a training mission to assist.
“They were preparing to do a tactical-training mission when they were diverted to conduct the search and rescue mission,” said Westerlund. “They executed a search pattern over the area, and located the man in his raft.”
Once the rescue teams located the man approximately one mile from Fire Island, the crew of the Pave Hawk lowered a Guardian Angel into the water to recover the distressed man.
“The rescue team performed a 100-foot hoist to get the man into the helicopter,” said Westerlund.
Once in the helicopter, the Pave Hawk crew flew the man to Providence hospital where he was released to medical personnel.
“Close communication and a coordinated effort between different agencies is an important factor for a water recovery like this to become a successful rescue mission,” said Westerlund.
For the mission, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with one save.