Marines rescue boaters near base rifle range

18 Sep 2007 | Lance Cpl. Brian Marion

Marines rescued two people after their boat capsized about a mile off shore by the rifle range here Sept. 18.

Gunnery Sgt. John J. Schidlmeier Jr., staff non-commissioned officer in charge, rifle range, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and Sgt. Anthony Thompson, primary marksmanship instructor, rifle range, waded waist-deep into the ocean and threw a rope out to the boaters as they got within throwing distance.

The boaters, employees of Environmental Services of the City and County of Honolulu, were taking water samples for the sewage treatment plant in their 22-foot Boston Whaler when a rogue wave hit the port side.

The wave tipped the boat over, but the boaters managed to climb on top of the vessel and rode the current to shore.

“We were hit by an unusual wave, and the next thing I knew, we were in the water,” said Scott Myiahara, one of the boaters.

As they got closer, Schidlmeier and Thompson spotted them and went into action.

“We drove down to the range location where they were spotted and saw two guys sitting on top of a capsized boat,” Schidlmeier said. “We went back to our building and called Water Front Ops. We were then radioed that the two guys were now in the water heading toward shore.”

Schidlmeier and Thompson grabbed rope and a bullhorn and headed back to the range.

“We grabbed the bullhorn to tell them that WFO was coming but then we heard they were in the water so we grabbed the rope to throw to them,” Schidlmeier said.

Due to strong currents, Schidlmeier wasn’t able to go too far from shore and decided throwing the boaters a lifeline was the best option.

“The most immediate concern was to get the boaters to safety,” Schidlmeier said. “We couldn’t get too close to them because neither Sgt. Thompson nor I had a lifeline connected and we didn’t want to make it four people in the water. We decided we would go in as far as we could and throw a rope toward them, hoping they would catch it. We saw they were drifting to the side of the cove where there is nothing but rocks so we had to act pretty quickly.”

Schidlmeier and Thompson were able to rescue both people, but were unable to retrieve the boat.

The boat drifted with the currents to Fort Hase beach where Marines from Combat Service Support Group 3 successfully retrieved it using a wench from a 7-ton truck.

Both boaters were able to escape injury and were grateful for the assistance the base provided.

“We’re very grateful for the assistance from the base,” Myiahara said. “Unfortunately, most of our equipment is still out there, but we hope to be able to come back later and retrieve it.”

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