The 109th Airlift Wing from Stratton Air National Guard Base rescued seven badly burned Korean sailors Friday.
The incident began Wednesday when a South Korean fishing ship caught fire near Antarctica, where National Guard members were on duty.
The local National Guard unit supports the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic program by flying in supplies on LC-130 Hercules planes, which land on the glacier ice on skis. Those planes have been used to evacuate patients in medical emergencies when no other plane could reach them.
In this case, seven badly burned sailors were brought to the United States McMurdo Station by the National Science Foundation’s ship. There, medics treated them and prepared them for the flight.
An Air Force C-17 was supposed to pick them up, but couldn’t get through the harsh weather.
So guard members took the sailors on the eight-hour flight to New Zealand, according to the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs.
The South Korean ship had 40 sailors aboard, and 37 were rescued by various vessels. Only seven were badly burned. The missing three are presumed dead.