SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two Rio Grande Valley boaters Monday as their boat began taking on water near Port Mansfield.

The night-time rescue prevented the Coast Guard from taking photos, authorities told ValleyCentral. Further, the footage from the helicopter that rescued the two men–ages 59 and 80–was corrupted.

ValleyCentral reported on the rescue earlier this week.

But we also wanted to know: What are these Coast Guard rescues and rescuers like?

Coast Guard rescuers are ‘always ready’

A helicopter pilot out of Galveston wears a helmet patch that reads: “For them I am semper paratus (always ready).”

The Coast Guard’s service motto is “Semper Paratus, which is Latin for “Always Ready.”

For the Coast Guard, that means being ready for more than rescues, especially along the Texas-Mexico border where crews intercept smugglers and illegal fishermen. Their missions are complex and varied.

Rescues happen night and day, various conditions

A Coast Guard Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew prepares to medevac the captain of the San Martin, a 555-foot cargo ship, who was experiencing symptoms of hypertension and leg swelling near Galveston, Texas, Dec. 14, 2022. The helicopter crew hoisted the captain and transported him to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy, Air Station Houston)

Rescues happen night and day for the Coast Guard, and the pilots have to work even amid less than ideal situations, whether rescuing people from ships when they have medical emergencies or rescuing people from ships that are taking on water or being hammered by a storm.

So it’s no surprise that pilots get major training before getting assigned into service.

Cadets prepare even before applying to flight school and can earn a pilots license in their spare time. Through an aviation club, they can train on a simulator.

If selected for flight school, they will have been one of approximately 20 cadets of a graduating class who attend flight training immediately after graduating the academy. Others go to flight school within three years, according to the USCG.

To earn their wings, they will have completed basic flight training and learned to fly Coast Guard aircraft. Aviators may fly multiple aircraft types through their career, including helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

“Helicopter aircrews may deploy to Coast Guard cutters equipped with a flight deck for part or all of a patrol, depending on the mission,” the Coast Guard stated.

Seeing the rescuers in action

The Coast Guard rescues two boaters stranded in December 2022 near Port O’Connor, Texas. (Courtesy of the USCG)

The rescue in the Laguna Madre on Monday happened at night with a helicopter crew from the station in Corpus Christi. The men were aboard a boat taking on water, but in an area of the bay that a Coast Guard cutter ship could not reach. Therefore, the helicopter crew was needed, officials said.

These rescues require one crew member to be lowered to the surface, help secure a person being rescued into the harness or platform and then be raised to the helicopter, as seen in a rescue from December 2022 near Port O’Conner, Texas.