HONOLULU (AP) — The men rescued in this tale of three castaways were not named Tom Hanks, or Gilligan, or Robinson Crusoe – though they might as well have been.
In a scene straight from Hollywood, or a New Yorker cartoon, a U.S. Navy plane spotted the word “help” spelled out in palm fronds on a beach on a deserted island in the remote Pacific.
The three men, missing for three days after a wave overtook the skiff they were traveling in, were found waving their orange life jackets on the tiny Micronesian island of Fanadik, several hundred miles north of Papua New Guinea, officials said April 9.
The men’s families reported them missing April 4 after they failed to show up at the Micronesian island of Weno, where they were traveling from their home island, Pulap.
A local boat picked the men up and took them to a hospital.
Two bulk carriers searched a combined 17 hours for the men as part of AMVER, a U.S. Coast Guard voluntary search and rescue program. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and ask them to help.