Saturday, May 20, 2017
Have You Questioned How You Survived This Long?
I got to know the old Sgt. over time and he found out I liked fishing. He offered his row boat to fish in the cove if I wanted and said I could bring a friend. I brought a guy I knew that worked in the mess hall and liked to fish. We were fishing in the cove and not paying any attention to the tide which was going out. We were being drawn closer to the outlet and the closer we got the more the pull on the small boat. We could not row hard enough to stay in the cove. We were sucked out of the inlet like someone flushing a toilet. The guy with me tried to jam an oar against the rock wall and broke the oar. We then only had one oar.
We were suddenly out in the ocean with the big rolling waves. We started to lose sight of the island and were doing a lot of frantic bailing. We went past a stovepipe marker that had 17 painted on it. Shortly after we passed the marker we saw a ship and a guy with flags trying to signal us. Not knowing the flag language we had no idea what he was saying. Shortly thereafter we saw a coast guard cutter heading our way and another long boat that was the old Sgt. bearing down on us. He got to us first and we tied up and he hauled us to safety. The 17 on the marker represented 17 miles and we were totally helpless and barely staying afloat in the ocean.
I ended up with a severe sun burn on my back and the base commander was looking for who had done this. My barracks mates took care of me and covered for my sunburn which was an Article 15 offense. I learned that having friends that would step in and save you were important and that having friends that would keep silent on my behalf and care for me by having to help dress me were equally important. My back was raw and oozing and my flight members had to carefully peal my T-shirt off me each day and treat my raw open wounds.
I have heard people in our community say they would not stop and help someone in need if they didn't like them. Having had the experience I had I would never consider not helping anyone - like them or not. It also taught me loyalty such as my flight/unit members demonstrated by helping me and protecting me. Everyone one in my unit knew it was me including my commanding officer but no one told, possibly because they saw that I was suffering enough with a raw back.
But for divine intervention by having that passing oil tanker at the right spot to see a tiny boat the size of a small dot in the ocean we would have perished without a doubt. The Lord was watching over us that day even though I did not know him then. By all rights we should have perished at sea but that incident changed my life in many ways and I realize I'm fortunate to be alive.