A Moffett Field-based team of Air National Guardsmen rescued a seriously ill 1-year-old baby and her family from a sailboat 1,000 miles off the coast of Baja California early Sunday morning. The rescue team continued to provide support for the family aboard the USS Vandergrift when it reached San Diego on Wednesday morning, April 9.
Last Thursday, April 3, a four-man Guardian Angel team of the 129th Rescue Wing parachuted into the water near the Rebel Heart, a 36-foot boat, to provide medical attention for the sick baby on board. It turned out that all four family members required rescue from the Rebel Heart, which was adrift and would take on water when the engine was used. "The ship was unable to steer, maneuver and had lost communication," said 2nd Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina of the 129th Rescue Wing.
The parents, Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, planned to sail the world with their two children, according to a report from the Associated Press. But two weeks into the trip, their daughter Lyra became ill, and shortly after that, the boat lost steering and communication.
Bersamina said the U.S. Coast Guard received a distress message from the Rebel Heart early Thursday saying that an infant on the ship had become ill and needed medical attention shortly before the ship lost communication. The rescue team did not know the exact location of the ship, and used a combat aircraft's emergency electronic beacon to find it. The Guardian Angel team reached the ship that night at about 7 p.m.
The Guardian Angel team was able to provide medical aid and stabilize the child aboard the Rebel Heart, which Bersamina said was the first priority of the rescue team. Both the Guardian Angel team and the family stayed aboard the Rebel Heart until Sunday morning, when they were picked up by the USS Vandergrift, a U.S. Navy frigate.
Although the Guardian Angel team stabilized the infant and helped transfer the family onto the Vandergrift, their job is still not done. Bersamina said the team is responsible for providing care to the one-year-old throughout the entire rescue until they reach a medical facility.
The 129th Rescue Wing is an Air National Guard unit based at Moffett Field that performs military and civilian search-and-rescue missions, including the rescue of distressed people aboard ships, lost hikers and disaster response. The unit is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 people, according to a press release by the 129th Rescue Wing.