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Templeton boy, 12, and mother hoisted to Air Force helicopter from cruise ship 350 miles off US coast

Angela Bridges and her son, Aiden, were passengers on the Carnival Venezia on May 4 when the boy ruptured his bowel and medical staff on the cruise ship knew he needed more medical help than they could provide. At that time, the ship was about 350 nautical miles off the coast, according to the Air Force.
A seriously ill 12-year-old Templeton boy and his mother were plucked from the deck of a Carnival cruise ship 350 nautical miles off the US coast by a helicopter manned by a specialized Air Force unit dedicated to rescuing downed flyers, according to the Air Force and social media postings.
Members of the 920th Rescue Wing based at the Patrick Space Force Base in Florida were assigned the rescue mission. Staff assembled an array of aircraft and specially trained personnel in response, according to a lengthy statement posted by the Air Force unit.
Two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and two teams of combat rescue officers and pararescuemen were dispatched, according to the Air Force. The helicopters conducted air-to-air refueling with the Combat King aircraft three times during the flight.
The mission, carried out by two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and two teams of pararescuemen required three air-to-air refuelings to complete. The more than 8-hour mission covered more than 1,200 miles round trip over open ocean. ( 920th Rescue Wing
When the Air Force team arrived, the Combat King aircraft circled the vessel and the two helicopters flew above the deck. “Pararescuemen were hoisted down and immediately began preparing the patient,” the Air Force statement said. “Then the patient and his mother were then hoisted up into the helicopter, where [the boy] received medical attention enroute to a hospital.”
On a GoFundMe site, Angela wrote that she and her son were medevaced to a hospital in North Carolina where he has since undergone successful surgery. The site had raised $1,160 towards a goal of $3,500 to cover the insurance deductible.
“Aiden has been slowly recovering since his surgery. He isn’t allowed to eat any foods as of yet, but they have allowed him small amounts of Gatorade and an ice-pop,’’ Angela wrote. “He has a long road of recovery ahead of him. We appreciate everyone for all of your care and support.”
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Bridges also described her reaction to videos other passengers took as she and her son were lifted into the Air Force helicopter.
“I’ve seen several videos around the internet that people on the ship took of the helicopter evacuation and us getting hoisted up. At the end of one of them, the helicopter was starting to fly away from the ship and people were clapping and cheering,’’ she wrote. “It was so heartwarming to see. It made me cry.”
Bridges expressed her appreciation to all the support her family has received.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has expressed well wishes and prayers and good thoughts for our sweet baby and the rest of our family,” she wrote. “I can’t express to everyone how in awe I am at the outpouring of kindness and support.”
Jeremiah Manion of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.
John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe.

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