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DM Airmen rescue injured Chinese mariner

a photo of a C-130

A California Air National Guard HC-130J Combat King II aircraft assigned with the 129th Rescue Wing is prepared for launch at Moffett Federal Airfield, California, August 28, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Ray Aquino)

a photo of an airman on the tail of an HH-60

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk special missions aviator, assigned with the 355th Wing, Davis-Monthan, AFB, Arizona performs preflight inspection on a tail rotor of a Pave Hawk at Moffett Air National Guard Base, California, August 28, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Ray Aquino)

a photo of an HH-60 sitting on the flightline

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter assigned with the 55th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan, AFB, Arizona stands-by at Moffett Air National Guard Base, California, August 28, 2020. The helicopter and its crew are participating in a joint rescue long-range overwater operation with members of California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing for an injured crewman on board a bulk container vessel off the coast of San Francisco. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Ray Aquino)


The 55th Rescue Squadron and a combat systems operator from the 79th RQS executed a long-range mission off the California coast to rescue an injured Chinese mariner, Aug. 28, 2020.

The Chinese mariner was severely injured from a 33-foot fall on the bulk carrier, Ocean Applaud, 1,100 nautical miles west of San Francisco at 9:59 a.m., Aug. 26. The Chinese mariner was working aboard the Ocean Applaud that was transferring cargo to Stockton, California.

Due to the severity of his injuries, Coast Guard District 11 was alerted that crucial medical attention was necessary in saving the Chinese mariner’s life. The Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett ANGB, California, responded at 10:32 a.m. to the rescue request put out by District 11 to accept the mission.

At approximately 2 p.m., the 129th RQW launched an HC-130J Combat King II carrying pararescuemen along with Capt. David Chestnut, 79th RQS CSO, to the location of the Ocean Applaud. Around 7 p.m., after executing static line jumps in the water, the PJs boarded Ocean Applaud and immediately applied first aid response to the injured Chinese mariner.

Realizing that emergency air evacuation was needed, the 55th RQS was contacted. The 129th RQW PJs remained on the carrier with the Chinese mariner until the HH-60G Pave Hawks arrived to transfer him to land.

“The 129th didn’t have the crew members to support an air rescue like that,” said Capt. Mark Ross, 55th RQS pilot. “They reached out to our crew, who are trained in over-water missions and long-range refueling.”

The injured Chinese mariner was transferred on an HH-60G from the carrier to Moffett Airfield in a matter of hours on Friday, Aug. 28.

“DM is always ready to go,” said Maj. Brendan Sullivan, 55th RQS pilot. “We’re always ready to answer the call for any type of mission we get.”

The mariner arrived at Stanford Medical Center, California, at approximately 3 p.m. on Friday, August 28, and is in stable condition.

“We saved the Chinese mariner’s life,” Sullivan said. “He is now at higher level care in San Francisco and able to get the medical attention he needs.”

The 55th and 79th RQS are always prepared to execute any type of rescue and demonstrate their readiness to respond urgently to the mission, near or far.