Missing Sailors Rescued from Pacific Island After Searchers Spotted Giant SOS in the Sand

You’ve probably seen a movie once before that has a stranded sailor write “SOS” in the sand and a helicopter sees it and rescues him. You might wonder if that actually works. Well, turns out, it does.

A real-life search and rescue incident involving a huge “SOS” cry for help occurred on August 2 when three mariners from the Micronesian island of Pulap were on a vessel that steered off course and ran out of fuel. When they were reported missing for three days, an aircraft and a ship sent by the Australian military scoured the whereabouts to find them.

Had the men not written “SOS” in the sand, who knows when they would’ve been found? Thankfully, the rescuers saw the letters loud and clear in the sand—which happened right in the nick of time (they were just about to head back after the search due to rain starting to come down).

“That’s when we looked down and saw an island, so we decide to check it out and that’s when we saw SOS and a boat right next to it on the beach,” said Jason Palmeira-Yen, the pilot of the aircraft.

The lost men were found and rescued on a small atoll named Pikelot, which was about 118 miles west of where they initially departed in Puluwat.

It was truly a heroic rescue, but the sailors are also to thank for their quick thinking in writing SOS in the sand.

“I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfill our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world,” said Capt. Terry Morrison, commanding officer of the Canberra, the Australian military ship that helped in the search.

To see photos on how the rescue went and hear more on this story, check out the video below.

If you were ever stranded on an island, do you think you’d think to write “SOS” in the sand? What are some other ways you may survive a tragic moment like this?