Life Saving Radio Transmission
In July of 1947, not long before Palmyra passed from Naval management back to its private owners, a C46 cargo plane crashed on the reefs around the island. Miraculously, only one crew member was injured, though his injuries were severe. Quoting from an article describing the incident, the radioman said,
"I don’t have any hand.”
Crawling from the shattered,
burning plane into knee deep
water, he stumbled twice and
thought he was stepping into a
hole; “then I found my leg
Had Palmyra been unihabitated, or the weather been bad, this would have surely been a death sentence. Thankfully, his fellow crew members carreid him nearly 100 yards to shore through the surf, and the staff stationed on the island (as part of a radio monitoring crew) got to work patching him up. One of them, a registered nurse, sent out a call over the radio asking for help. A rescue plane was quickly dispatched from Honolulu but it would be hours before they could reach the isolated atoll.
Lucky for the injured airman, an amateur operator in New Jersey, 6,000 miles away, heard the call and got a local doctor on the line to assist the nurse in bandaging and treating his wounds. When the recuse plane arrived, they found the man still alive and ready for transport. He survived the hours long flight back to Hawaii, where he was given several blood transfusions, along with treatment for his other injuries.
With all the things that could have gone wrong, from his being carried 100 yards through shark infested waters, to landing in such an isolated place, to the long flight back to get proper care, it's a wonder he survived. What's certain is, had the ham operator not been listening, the nurse on Palmyra would not have know the triage steps to take to keep him breathing until more help arrived. Thanks to the power of radio, even over 6,000 miles, the man lived to tell his harrowing tale.