Tonight while I was channel surfing, as I crossed the Discovery Channel, two words stopped me instantly with a wrenching feeling in my stomach.
In the next instant I was seeing an old friend as he told about surviving the sinking of his ship in the Bering Sea on a program called "Mayday! Bering Sea".
I felt sick. For the next half hour I watched with tears streaming down my face as that friend, Jim Madruga and another, Chief Ed Cook, told about that terrible night. Easter Sunday of 2008.
My upset was more than just seeing my friends tell their stories with such pain on their faces. You see, I was there too. Not right where the ship went down but close to Dutch Harbor coming thru the storm between Unalaska Island and Akutan Island on the Independence - the ship Himself works on. I heard the radio chatter as other ships who were closer and able to respond dropped what they were doing and headed off to help search.
It wasn't much easier to hear it 2 years later.
I was surprised to learn that one of the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers volunteered to stay in the water while the chopper left so there would be one more place onboard for a survivor. Unless you've been there... you can not imagine what the Bering Sea is like when it's storming. That man is a hero. No question.
If you would like to read my blog on I wrote about that night, it's here:
Third from left - Chief Dan Cook, lost at sea. Second from right - engineer Jim Madruga - rescued.