Once again the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard has done fantastic work, flying far out into the Pacific to save a critically ill child.
A Bay Area-based National Guard team parachuted into the chilly Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles off the coast of Mexico on Thursday night in a harrowing mission to save a sick child stranded on a sailboat, authorities said Friday.
Members of the 129th Rescue Wing, upon hearing that a 1-year-old girl had fallen critically ill on her family’s 36-foot boat, boarded a plane at Moffett Federal Airfield about 2:30 p.m. and took off for the boat – located about 900 nautical miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, according to the California National Guard.
The baby’s ailment was not immediately clear. But the boat, called Rebel Heart and sailed by an American couple and their two children, was experiencing mechanical problems and couldn’t reach shore, officials said.
“The 1-year-old was seriously ill. We didn’t exactly get a lot of information beyond that,” said Lt. Roderick Bersamina.
“The rescue team made it to the stranded vessel aboard an MC-130P Combat Shadow plane about 7 p.m., according to Bersamina. Four team members parachuted into the open water, then inflated a Zodiac boat to motor their way over to the sailboat.”
“They have reported that whatever the child was ill from, she’s currently stabilized,” Bersamina said. “We’re happy that our para-rescue men safely boarded the vessel and were able to save the infant.”
The National Guard team also sent rescue helicopters to the stranded boat, and they were scheduled to arrive Friday. The plan was to then fly the sick girl and her family to shore by chopper.
The U.S. Navy also sent a ship to assist with the effort, Bersamina said.
I met pararescuemen from the 129th at Moffett Field a few years ago, while researching the Jo Beckett novels. In the books, Gabe Quintana is a PJ with the Wing. In real life, these guys are the honest deal. They do dangerous work on land, sea, and air. The motto of Pararescue is: So that others may live.
Be glad they’re on duty.