As most of you have heard now, the US Coast Guard received a distress call from the Rebel Heart, a sailboat about 1000 miles out from Cabo San Lucas on a Pacific crossing. Onboard was a mother, father, and two children; they reported that their six year-old daughter had fallen ill and was in need of medical attention. This set in motion a complicated, joint rescue operation consisting of Coast Guard, Navy, and California Air National Guard assets.

Note: Pararescuemen are the only Department of Defense specialty specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional or unconventional rescue operations.


Photo: 31st Rescue Squadron, perform a high altitude low opening jump over Ie Shima Island, Japan courtesy USAF

Four PJs from the 129th Rescue Squadron at Moffett Field, CA, were tasked with the mission. Loading an air-droppable Rigged Alternate Method Zodiac (RAMZ) aboard an MC-130P, the team flew to the sailboat’s location at sea, and deployed the RAMZ and the team members. Once in the water, the team inflated the RAMZ, moved to the Rebel Heart, and began several days of medical care while the Coast Guard coordinated the arrival of the USS Vandegrift for further transport.

Their actions surely saved the six year-old girl’s life. Another job well done by the boys.

Interested in learning about USAF rescue history? Click here