The aircrew, based out of North Carolina responded to boaters in distress, while supporting Joint Interagency Task Force South operations near Central America on Oct. 11.
The Air Station Elizabeth City HC-130 Hercules airplane crew observed four people waving frantically for help in a 25-foot recreational boat as eight- to 12-foot waves crashed over the stern. The aircrew dropped a radio to establish communication and they were getting ready to drop dewatering pumps as they saw the boat capsize.
Rain and lightning pushed through the area. Winds gusted to about 30 knots, the rain limited visibility and cloud cover was low, but the crew was able to drop an 8-man life raft to the water near the boat. Unfortunately surface winds pulled it away before the men could get to it.
The aircrew dropped their last set of life rafts as the sun began to set. They dropped a flare to illuminate the area as they vectored in a good Samaritan, who was able to rescue all four men.