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Rescue Jumper: My Only Thought Was That Others May Live

USAF Pararescue Jumper over the Pacific
May 06, 2014

A team of Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJ) came to the aid of two critically injured Chinese sailors Friday in the Pacific Ocean 1,100 nautical miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. A Chinese vessel caught fire, stranding the crew. A small Venezuelan fishing skiff picked 11 sailors from the burning boat.

“At first glance before I parachuted down into the Pacific Ocean, my only thought was that others may live,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Peters, according to CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix.

Two of four critically-injured sailors died before help arrived, but PJs stabilized the two surviving patients. Seven of the sailors were in good condition and boarded another Chinese-flagged ship. The two fallen Chinese sailors were also taken on board.  The two sailors with critical injuries were to be transferred to the Regional Burn Unit at the University of California, San Diego.

US Air Force Pararescue Jumpers and injured Chinese fishermen hoisted from skiff

US Air Force Pararescue Jumpers and injured Chinese fishermen hoisted from skiff

According to a release from Davis Monthan Air Force Base public affairs officer Maj Sarah Schwennesen, at around 12:30 p.m. Monday, six U.S. Air Force Guardian Angel personnel from the 48th Rescue Squadron and the two injured Chinese fishermen they were stabilizing were hoisted off of a Venezuelan skiff more than 600 nautical miles off the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Crews were in transit from the Pacific and California back to their home base in Arizona Tuesday afternoon.

According The Guardian,

The two were among 17 Chinese crew members believed aboard a fishing vessel that caught fire and sank in the Pacific Ocean. Two died from burn injuries, seven were determined to be in good condition and six are believed missing, said Major Sarah Schwennesen of Davis-Monthan air force base in Tucson, Arizona.

A Venezuelan fishing vessel spotted a life raft with 11 fishermen Friday and sent a call for help.

Responding to the call, airmen from the air force’s 563rd Rescue Group parachuted into the water Saturday afternoon and used inflatable boats to reach the Venezuelan vessel.

Crews from Davis Monthan flew for nine hours over the Pacific Ocean to recover the Guardian Angel personnel and patients, and conducted four refueling operations on the roundtrip flight from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The 563rd Rescue Group from Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona had launched two C-130J Combat King II aircraft, three HH-60G Pavehawk helos and a pararescue jumper (PJ) team to support. The Arizona Air National Guard’s KC-135 Stratotanker performed in-air refueling for the PJ team’ C-130J, so the rescue team could fly directly to the stranded Chinese crew.