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Coast Guard Rescues Savoonga Hunters Stranded on Remote Islands

Petty Officer 1st Class David McClure rescues a stranded hunter on the Punuk Islands, near St. Lawrence Island on Nov. 29, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Daniel Beshoar. (2018)

The Coast Guard rescued two male hunters stranded on the Punuk Islands, east of St. Lawrence Island last week. Alaska State Troopers identified the two men as Charles Edwards and Andy Penayah from Savoonga.

After traveling to the Punuk Islands by boat on November 21, according to the hunters’ report, their boat motor had failed, and they were unable to get off the island. By Wednesday of last week, the hunters used a VHF handheld radio to relay a distress message to a Ravn Alaska aircraft flying overhead.

Ravn Alaska notified the Coast Guard center in Anchorage, who then deployed pararescue men and survival gear to the stranded hunters. USCG also launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew out of Kodiak to assist the two men on the Punuk Islands.

One of the Coast Guard pilots, Lt. Daniel Beshoar, said in a press release, “after flying nearly 700 miles across the state through snow squalls and freezing fog, we’ve never seen a happier embrace than the one from the stranded hunters as they greeted their rescuers.”

During the rescue, the weather on scene included freezing spray, 14 foot seas, blowing snow, and gale-force winds.

Both men from Savoonga were taken to Nome for further care on Thursday, and one was reported to be ill for several days. According to Lt. Beshoar, the VHF radio the hunters had on hand essentially saved their lives.

Image at top: Petty Officer 1st Class David McClure rescues a stranded hunter on the Punuk Islands, near St. Lawrence Island on Nov. 29, 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Daniel Beshoar. (2018)

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