To Protect and Serve

 - October 12, 2007, 7:48 AM

Amid numerous press accounts of helicopter heroism during the war in Iraq comes this story of the sort of everyday utility humanitarianism that should walk hand-in-hand with power. Last March 15, the U.S. Navy frigate USS Crommelin was assigned to locate a fishing vessel reported to have a badly injured crewman off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The Crommelin dispatched Easy Rider 57, a Sikorsky SH-60B assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 37 that flew 125 nm to the location of the fishing vessel. After being lowered into the water, the rescue swimmer boarded the vessel and treated the injured fisherman. After binding his wounds, the Navy swimmer lowered the fisherman and himself into the water for helicopter pickup. (This technique is often used in rescues involving boats with masts tall enough to interfere with dangling helo hoist cables.) Once the swimmer and fisherman were hoisted into the aircraft, Easy Rider 57 flew back to the Crommelin, where the fisherman was stabilized. The Seahawk then flew him to a Costa Rican hospital for treatment. The fact that this simple act of routine kindness went largely unnoticed outside of a few Navy and Sikorsky support personnel speaks volumes about what being the richest, strongest and, hopefully, most moral nation on earth is all about.