One Coast Guard mission swiftly changed from enforcing the coastline to saving lives. A crew from the Air Station Savannah received a distress call from a sailboat stranded off the Florida Keys. Lt. Dale Taylor and his crew, Lt. Bill Strickland and petty officer Brian Jerrit saved the lives of two people, including an 81-year-old man stranded off the coast.
"Due to the sail mast, we couldn't directly lower the basket," said Jerritt.
"The first hoist went well, we got the man on the helicopter," recalled Strickland. "The second didn't go well. The older gentleman jumped in the water, hit a wave, crashed in the boat and was struggling."
"All I heard is, he's shaving a hard time here struggling, he's not going under," said Taylor. "I said, 'Here's what we're going to do.'"
The helicopter crew was without a diver, so Taylor, the aircraft commander, dove right in. "He jumped out of that front seat faster than I've ever seen," said Jerritt.
"He lowered me down the basket, I swam over to the man," recalled Taylor.
"As I'm lowering him down, I can't believe I'm lowering the pilot down in the basket," said Jerritt.
Lt. Taylor went to the man, placed him on the basket and returned him to safety. "We could live with something we didn't train for [better] than letting the guy die," said Taylor.
Lt. Dale Taylor, this week's WTOC Hometown Hero.
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