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US Coast Guard Rescues Stranded Mariners from Remote Pacific Island

Source: US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia

There are stories of heartwarming situations all over the internet. Sweet stories of pets being rescued and families being reconnected in the most unusual of circumstances. One story that’s recently aired falls into the latter category, with the bonus of a little military influence. 

Three Mariners Rescued

Three mariners were recently stranded on a tiny islet in the Pacific Ocean for more than a week. They were ultimately rescued by a US Navy and Coast Guard operation on Tuesday, after the trio spelled out the word “HELP” using palm fronds laid out on the beach.

Source: US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia

Like many of these types of stories, it started out innocently enough. The three men had been planning to go fishing in the waters around the Pikelot Atoll, which is part of Micronesia. The Federated States of Micronesia is a Pacific nation between the Philippines and Hawaii, which is made up of more than 600 islands scattered across approximately 2.5 million square kilometers of ocean. 

The Men Made it to an Island

Pikelot is an incredibly small and remote island in this part of the world, which ultimately was to these men’s detriment. While they were fishing, their 20-foot open skiff was caught by swells on the ocean, and the outboard motor was damaged, according to US Coast Guard officials.

Source: Wikimedia/Government of Kiribati

Fortunately, they were not stranded on the open ocean. They were able to make it onto Pikelot without being harmed, but their radio ran out of battery power before they could call for help. This would be an incredibly scary and isolating incident for most people, but fortunately, these men were able to keep their heads on straight to come up with a solution. 

Calling for Help

The castaways proceeded to gather palm-fronts from around the 31-acre island, arranging them to spell out “HELP” on the beach. Then, as it goes, they waited to see if anyone would be able to rescue them. 

Source: Wikimedia/Stefan Lins from Tokyo, Japan

The men were on the beach for a solid week, and during that time, they survived off coconut meat. They also had fresh water from a small well on the island, which is sometimes visited by fishers in the region, though the island itself is uninhabited.

Stranded on Easter Sunday

The men were originally stranded on the island after setting out on March 31, and the search for the men began on April 6 after one of their relatives called rescue officials in the US Pacific territory of Guam. The relative stated that they had not returned to Polowat Atoll, which is an island more than 100 miles away from where the trio had originally started their voyage. 

Source: US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia

The Coast Guard dispatched a reconnaissance jet, searching in the area for any signs of the missing men, and on April 7, it spotted the palm-frond “HELP” sign on the beach on Pikelot. According to Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the search-and-rescue mission coordinator, the sign was “crucial” to finding the men and bringing them back home. 

Dropping off Survival Rations

The reconnaissance jet dropped survival packs to the three men to help them get by, then returned to base where their location was relayed to the rescue center. It took approximately a day for the rescue team to make it to Pikelot, at which point the story experienced another twist. 

Source: Wikimedia/NASA

Oliver Henry, a cutter from the Coast Guard, reached Pikelot on April 9 to rescue the trio of men and bring them back home. One of the first rescuers on the beach was Eugene Halishlius, who was Micronesian and therefore able to speak the local language, much to the stranded men’s surprise. 

The Rescuer was Related to the Stranded Men!

That was not the only surprise of the rescue, though. When Halishlius gave his name to the first stranded man who reached the rescue boat, the castaway was stunned to discover that he was related to their rescue team!

Source: US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia

The man was a third cousin to Halishlius, and the others were fourth cousins to the rescuer. “It’s a crazy world, I actually found out I’m related to them!” Halishlius said in a statement. “He couldn’t believe I’m with the Coast Guard trying to rescue them.”

Not the First Micronesian Rescue

It’s a sweet story of men coming home safely after an event that could have become a tragedy. And amazingly, this is not the first or only rescue of castaways from the island of Pikelot.

Source: Wikimedia/U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program

In 2020, three other men traveling between two Micronesian atolls found themselves washed up there after their boat ran out of fuel during the voyage. They spelled out “SOS” on the beach, and the message was spotted by a US Air Force tanker that was operating out of Guam. The men were then rescued by the Coast Guard and Micronesian and Australian naval units. 

Merely a Coincidence

Two occurrences of individuals being stranded and subsequently rescued on the small island in Micronesia is a stunning feat. When questioned about it, though, Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir wasn’t sure if there was a connection. 

Source: Wikimedia/KC-135_Stratotanker_boom.JPG: US Air Forcederivative work: Hohum

“It could be a coincidence. The people of Micronesia frequently travel island to island, and do so with a great deal of skill and experience,” she said. While it is a stunning coincidence, it’s very like that these two incidents are merely that: coincidence. 

A Sweet Story of Humanity

The names of the men who were rescued from Pikelot haven’t been released to the public, and requests for comment from their families have not been responded to. It’s likely that the family’s are enjoying their time together, time which may have been tragically cut short should the men not have created their beach sign to be rescued.

Source: Wikimedia/Air National Guard

Stories like these remind us of the good of humanity, as well as the dangers of fishing on the open ocean. While it’s true that individuals from Micronesia are highly skilled in traveling between the tiny islands that they call home, it’s also true that without a little bit of luck, things can turn out much worse than they did for the three men who were thankfully rescued.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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