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Search called off for airman seen in distress while swimming at Guam beach

By FRANK WHITMAN | SPECIAL TO STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 31, 2007

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The Search and Rescue Group Guam combed more than 575 square nautical miles for Airman First Class Michael McDonald, who was last seen in distress at about 11:15 a.m. Saturday, according to a Coast Guard news release.

McDonald was swimming with four companions, three of whom made it to shore safely on their own.

A fourth airman was rescued and treated for minor injuries at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, according to an Andersen spokesman.

A high surf advisory had been in effect for more than a week and was to continue until Tuesday.

All the airmen involved in the incident were deployed to Andersen from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and were scheduled to return there this week, the Andersen spokesman said.

McDonald was assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The unit, along with six B-52 bombers, has been on Guam since September as part of Pacific Command’s continuous bomber rotation to Andersen.

The search was conducted by personnel aboard the Coast Guard cutter Assateague, helicopters from Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and personnel from the Guam Fire Department and the Guam Police Department.

Search planners used “all available technical tools to ensure the most effective possible search effort,” the Coast Guard said.


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