Search continues for airman missing after being swept from Guam reef
October 30, 2003
The search continued Wednesday for a missing airman swept from a reef Tuesday just offshore of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
Air Force officials said the airman’s name and unit are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. His age was not immediately available.
The search began Tuesday after a swimmer was reportedly swept out to sea from an Andersen beach, Coast Guard civilian search and rescue coordinator Lee Putnam said .
“We have not found the airman,” Putnam said Wednesday morning. “We are continuing the search.”
Several Coast Guard and Air Force helicopters have been searching for the airman, who Andersen spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Sarah Small said was on temporary duty from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
Small said the airman disappeared Tuesday while wading atop a reef off Tarague Beach.
“It’s a rough part of the water,” Small said, adding cross-currents there can be extremely difficult to overcome.
“It’s one of the more notorious beaches,” he said, adding a third of reef-related rescue calls come from the area.
On Tuesday, seas in the area were relatively calm with a 1- to 2-foot ocean swell.
The Coast Guard search began Tuesday after officials received a rescue call at 4:36 p.m., Putnam said. The agency dispatched a 25-foot rescue boat and a helicopter. The 110-foot cutter Galveston Island also was sent out.
Andersen fire department rescuers joined the search on power skis and Guam police combed the beach, Putnam said.
Naval Forces Marianas also launched an HC-5 helicopter, Small said.
Military search-and-rescue personnel halted the search at 8:50 p.m. Tuesday, but resumed at 7 a.m. Wednesday, she said.
“We’ll search as long as we have daylight,” Small said.
Putnam said the Coast Guard is continuing its search and that the Galveston Island would remain on station.
According to Putnam, there have been four drownings this year off Guam. About 13 people drowned last year.