Three men stranded on Pacific island saved by writing word 'Help' in leaves: NPR

A “Help” sign made of palm leaves appears on Pikelot Atoll.

US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard


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US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard


A “Help” sign made of palm leaves appears on Pikelot Atoll.

US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard and Navy successfully rescued three sailors stranded on a small Pacific island for more than a week, after they wrote the word “Help” in the sand with palm leaves.

The three men, all in their 40s, left Easter Sunday on a 20-foot sailboat from Poloat to Pikelot (both places are small Pacific islands that make up the Micronesian archipelago). The Coast Guard said.

Six days later, on Saturday, a woman called the Coast Guard to say her uncles had not returned from Pikelot, about 100 nautical miles from where they started. A Coast Guard rescue center in Guam began the search, but faced challenges due to weather and availability of resources. The mission was then joined by a Navy aircraft stationed in Japan and the Coast Guard ship Oliver Henry.

Crews searched an area of ​​more than 78,000 square nautical miles, and Navy aircraft spotted the triple palm frond message the next day.

“This masterful act was pivotal in directing rescue efforts directly to their location,” said Lt. Chelsea Garcia, search and rescue mission coordinator.

The aircrews sent up a radio and other supplies, and the men said they had food and water, were in good health, and that their boat had been damaged. On Tuesday, the men were returned to Buluwat.

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“Whether we're there to protect valuable resources or save lives, we're not just visitors — we're members of this vibrant maritime community that connects all of these islands,” said Lt. Ray Serrato, USCGC Oliver Henry commander. . “This latest operation near Pikelot Atoll highlights the kind of difference we can make. It's more than just performing a duty; it's about the real human connections we build and the lives we touch.”

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