Veterans Day is for honoring those who have served our country, but we also take the time to recognize those still in active duty... the veterans-to-be, if you will, who put themselves in harm's way every day to protect Americans and our allies.
So, prepare for some chills and prayers, as you watch the videos we're about to share.
In September 2022, during Tropical Storm Earl (which would later be upgraded to a hurricane), a spear fisherman off the coast of the US Virgin Islands was injured and trapped on a rock, his boat washed away, as high storm waves were crashing in. Someone on a nearby craft called the US Coast Guard, who sent in rescue teams from San Juan, PR. They tried first to reach the stranded fisherman by boat, but the waves were too high to do so safely.
Lt. Shea Smith was the Coast Guard commander flying the MH-60T Jayhawk you see here -- and he happens to be the grandson of our beloved charter Unit 178 member Dolores Faulkner.
This photograph was taken from the 33-foot USCG craft that also answered the distress call.
Here, you can read about the rescue and watch the video taken from the USCG boat. Click the link in the USCG Southeast tweet, where you can see the fisherman on the rock, as the Jayhawk deploys a rescue swimmer, to harness the fisherman and pull him to safety. The crewmember who is filming then pans to show the waves and stormclouds around the site. Treacherous conditions indeed!
And then... Watch the actual video of the rescue, filmed from the USCG helicopter. It is stunning to see how Lt. Smith and his team maneuver the Jayhawk in gale-force winds to hover with precision over the survivor. Be sure to listen to the audio where you can hear the crew prepare to drop the swimmer, get him to ground, monitor the rescue, and then hoist both men back to the aircraft to safety. You will get chills!
These acts of bravery are being performed everyday by the men and women of the US Armed Forces... but they don't do it to get on television! Thank you, Lt. Smith, for leading your crew to another successful rescue. ALA Unit 178 is keeping you in our prayers!