SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Members of the 1-228th Aviation Regiment, Charlie Company, assigned to Joint Task Force - Bravo, worked with Honduran counterparts to find and rescue an 18-year-old American citizen June 12, 2015, 18 miles off the coast of Roatan, Honduras.
The crew was notified Wednesday night of the possible search and rescue mission after Aaron Rose, the 18-year-old, failed to return to his hotel, following a sunset kayak ride. After receiving permission from higher headquarters to conduct the mission at 1 a.m., the Charlie Company team left Soto Cano Air Base Thursday morning and arrived at Roatan by 6:15 a.m.
Although the 1-228th AVN REGT performed the rescue, the search and rescue task was a combined effort. The stranded victim was identified by a local Honduran pilot and was hoisted from the water by Staff Sgt. Chris Valdez, a 1-228 C. Co. flight medic, and taken to a local clinic in Roatan where he was treated for possible injuries.
"The collaborative efforts between the JTF, our Honduran military partners, and the US Embassy were integral in the rapid response to this successful search and rescue operation, said Col. Kirk Dorr, JTF - Bravo commander.
Speaking of the collaboration, Valdez had this to say:
"Working with the local agencies in Roatan and knowing the capabilities they have, when we actually do these things together it meshes that much better. That's what we talked about after everything with all the local agencies, so if we have a chance, we can possibly do some training in the actual ocean where these things are likely to happen."
While the 1-228th practices for all types of rescue emergencies over water and land, the challenge came when they were attempting to rescue the victim amid the ocean current. The current pushed Rose, who was resting on his overturned kayak, away from the rescuer.
"We learned that now we have to look for currents and see what they're doing," said Warrant Officer 4 Erik Adler, a 1-228 AVN REGT UH-60 Blackhawk pilot. "We have to change our approach on how we fly in."
The current was a challenge, but the crew overcame it. Through partnerships with military and local officials, the rescue was a success and a life was saved.
"JTF-Bravo can be expected to make every effort to come to the aid of American Citizens who may find themselves in distress while in Central America," Dorr said.
"For over three decades now, the professionals in this JTF have answered the call for hundreds of similar missions. I am truly proud of what our aviators accomplished Thursday morning off the coast of Roatan. "