Coast Guard rescues Marine Corps aviators

UPDATE: The top picture was changed to an image of an F-18/D.

An F/A-18D Hornet jet

An F/A-18D Hornet jet. U.S. Marine Corps photo.

When the Coast Guard was notified at 10:15 p.m. last night that the U.S. Marine Corps lost communication with one of its F/A-18 Hornet jets approximately 85 miles southwest of San Diego, Coast Guard search and rescue assets were in the area, immediately diverting to help locate the missing aircraft and the two pilots aboard.

CGC Edisto and an MH-60 helicopter

CGC Edisto conducts vertical insertion training with an MH-60 helicopter off the coast of San Diego, Jan. 30, 2002. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-130 Hercules aircraft was already in the air and was the first asset to arrive on scene. The 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Edisto also happened to be nearby on a patrol, arriving on scene about an hour later.

Coast Guard Sector San Diego’s Rescue 21 system picked up the Emergency Locator Transmitter signal from the Marine Corps jet allowing Coast Guard and U.S. Navy resources to narrow down the search area.

During cutter Edisto’s search, crewmembers could hear the Marines’ voices and whistles. This on scene information, along with the Coast Guard C-130 aircraft’s ability to hone in on the emergency signal and use onboard sensors and infrared cameras, enabled a Coast Guard Sector San Diego MH-60 Jahawk helicopter to vector on the survivors’ location. The aircrew deployed the rescue swimmer and hoisted both aviators to safety.

Marine aviator rescue

Click on the image to watch a video of Coast Guard Sector San Diego aircrew members transferring a survivor of a Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet crash from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to emergency medical personnel, Aug. 11, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry G. Dunphy.

Within only a few hours of the initial report, the pilots were recovered and immediately flown to the hospital. Both Marines are reported in stable condition.

What could have been a tragedy ended well with lives saved and returned home to their loved ones. While the Coast Guard’s success has a lot to do with vigilance, rigorous training, exceptional preparation and mission-ready assets, it is being on the water, forward deployed and ready to respond at a moment’s notice that ensures our people are at the right place, at the right time.

Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau, a U.S. Navy helicopter, USS Princeton, USS Benfold and USS Halsey also responded to the incident.



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11 Responses

  1. Cathy Cross says:

    Maybe the marines will stop jagging us about being Puddle jumpers now.

    We’ve ALWAYS had your back! Semper Paratus Devil Dawgs!

    Cathy Pridgen Cross
    USCG 1975-1981

  2. Rick says:

    I just wanted to say, Great Job to all that was involved, It makes me proud to see all of the well trained individuals ready at a moments notice,

  3. tara (coast guard mom) says:


  4. Charley says:

    The ed. might want to change the F/A-18C photo to a F/A-18D – two crew members were recovered , indicating that it was a -D (or -B) jet.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Great Job! Semper Paratus!

  6. LT Connie Braesch says:

    Charley, thank you for your comment. We have updated the post with the correct image of the F-18D.

    Lt. Connie Braesch
    Coast Guard public affairs

  7. Rick says:

    Perhaps the editor can change “censors” to “sensors” also.

  8. Kristin says:

    You guys/glas ROCK!!!!!

  9. Jon says:

    Morganthau was no where near this when it happened. Princeton was first to arrive. This story is completely inaccurate….

  10. Military Mom of 2 says:

    Great Job!! Our Military is awesome. Proud of you all.

  11. Daniel Brawn says:

    As the father of Marine Captain Pete Brawn whom you pulled from the Pacific Ocean on August 11, his mother, family, friends and I thank the US Coast Guard and the team that saved our son just one month ago. As “Tara (Coast Guard Mom)” wrote, “Someone was watchin’ all your backs”. There were a number of miracles that occurred that night and continue to happen. Although badly broken, Pete continues to recover and is already walking on the once shattered leg. This family will never forget what you did for us. THANK YOU and Thank GOD…db