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Coast Guard flight mechanic Neil Moulder leaned out of a swaying Jayhawk helicopter and into the full force of Hurricane Sandy, pulling with all his weight on a thick steel cable. Forty feet below, a rescue cage and the shivering survivor inside—nearly 300 pounds total—were being tossed like a paper kite in the 60-knot winds. The tall ship Bounty, attempting to outrun the massive storm, was sinking in the Atlantic in the predawn hours of October 29. Now Moulder fought to keep the cable steady or risk stranding the survivors, who were floating in flimsy lifeboats in 30-foot seas. “As soon as we’d pick up the basket, the winds would throw it under the helicopter and I’d have to muscle it back over,” he says.
As each survivor spilled out of the wire enclosure, Moulder would roll the body, helpless in an oversize orange survival suit, toward any open space on the Jayhawk’s floor. With every new arrival, the group cheered. Moulder’s Jayhawk saved nine, a second helicopter working nearby, five, before dwindling fuel supplies sent them home. A third helicopter arrived to continue the rescue, searching for the suits’ telltale lights. By the time the aircraft landed on fumes at their Elizabeth City, North Carolina, base just past 10 a.m., someone had posted a celebratory message on the Bounty’s Facebook page: “THE CREW IS SAFE…” But like so much of the news coursing through the Web, the announcement was premature.
The captain had gone down with the ship. So had the USC Song Girl.
(via The USC Song Girl and The Sea - Features - Los Angeles magazine)
I try not to talk about myself too much on this blog. But I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of L.A., and I don’t like USC, but I do have a thing for the USC Song Girls. This is a story about one of them, and it’s sad and inspiring at the same time. I really recommend reading it. It’s about a girl working toward realizing her dreams and confronting the brutal seas of Hurricane Sandy a year ago this week.