Injured sailor rescued by joint-service effort

4 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Steven H. Posy

A KC-130J “Hercules” from Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 352 assisted 129th Rescue Wing Air National Guard in a rescue operation that took place 600 miles off the coast of California April 4.

The Hercules provided air support and fuel for two HH-60 Pave Hawk Medium Range Recovery helicopters and an MC-130P Combat Shadow as they rescued a 57-year-old man who sustained a serious head injury this sailing April 1.

“The Coast Guard responded to the emergency by sending para-jumpers to aid the man,” said 1st Lt. Daniel J. Kernen, a pilot with VMGR-352. “They stabilized him and then transported the injured man to a large carrier vessel that was headed for the coast.”

While they provided medical attention to the man, they requested rescue from the 129th Rescue Wing Air National Guard at Moffet Federal Air Field, Santa Clara County, Calif., who sent to HH-60s and a MC-130 to the vessel, explained Kernen.

VMGR-352 was called upon to provide a KC-130J as back-up, and their support proved necessary when the MC-130 was unable to continue with the mission due to a hydraulic problem, added Kernen.

“We became a critical part of this mission,” said Kernen.

The KC-130J provided 15,000 pounds of fuel to the HH-60s during the 8-hour mission to airlift the four para-jumpers and the injured man from the vessel.

“The man’s condition was deteriorating and we knew we had to get him to a hospital,” said Kernen.

The crews coordinated to get the patient to a hospital during the mission, explained Kernen. The mission was successful as the man was safely transported to a hospital and is recovering.

“We did not know why we were being called in on Easter Sunday until we were briefed before the mission, and when we found out that the man survived, it was special,” said Sgt. Michael T. O’Neill, a crew chief with VMGR-352.

VMGR-352 conducts air-refueling training missions regularly with other squadrons at MCAS Miramar.

“Everything that we train for prepares us for what we may encounter at anytime,” said Kernen. “We are there to provide support whenever we are needed.”