A PERFECT MOMENT
The below email was forwarded to me by a Coast Guard pilot and XO of an Air Station. He asked that I share this, but wanted to remain anonymous (I've included him in the blind copy of this email.) Sounds like a good story for "Jack's Joint."
Best wishes and SEMPER PARATUS!
MCPOCG Vincent W. Patton, III
The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
I'd like to share a story with you that might be handy for telling "why it's cool to be in the CG." I've been commissioned for nearly 19 years and been flying H65s since 1985, but I've never had an experience like this:
We were diverted from a training flight to look for an overdue boater the other night at around 1930. The subject had not shown up to pick up his child at day care and the vehicle was found at the launch point, so it was legit. We put in one sortie with NEGRES and refueled at a local airport for another try. Near the end of the second sortie, our crewman, a 21-foot RHIB from the local station, and a "Good Sam (tug and barge)" spotted the guy almost simultaneously. He was disabled in water too shallow for the RHIB and it was getting cold (he was not prepared for the weather) so we put down our rescue swimmer and took the guy off.
Conditions were very benign
and other than the normal challenges of hoisting from a 17-foot bass boat in H65
rotor wash, it was a very low stress evolution. After we took off from the boat,
we called the local boat station to advise them we had safely hoisted the man
and were heading to the airport for fuel. The local police (monitoring the
channel) said that the man's wife had been with them and she was now on her way
to the airport to pick him up.
After landing, we shutdown to refuel and the copilot and I went into the FBO office to call on deck. While we were waiting for the crew to finish refueling, the man's wife arrived and, for the first time ever, I got to see "The Big Tearful Hug." It lasted about two minutes. They didn't say anything to us or each other during or after, but just walked out of the airport and went home.
In my previous cases, we had always dropped the survivor off at a hospital or an airport. I suppose that in the abstract I knew there were loved ones who were relieved to see the rescuee safe, but I had never seen it before. I was quite unprepared for how moving an experience it was to see the reaction of a woman who, until 30 minutes earlier, had been facing the distinct possibility that her husband was never coming home again.
In all respects, it was not a tough case and we didn't do anything extraordinary that would warrant anything beyond the satisfaction of doing our jobs. Yet, those two minutes at the airport set this one apart from any case I had ever flown on and I wouldn't trade the experience for the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Not very heroic, but I think it's a good story nonetheless - guess I'm getting emotional in my old age. If you use it, I would appreciate anonymity.
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