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Rescue crews from the National Guard, who helped rescue Oakland's Nick Vlahos and his two children stranded in the Sierra, are calling it one of the best missions they've ever been a part of.

Rescue crews from the National Guard, who helped rescue Oakland's Nick Vlahos and his two children stranded in the Sierra, are calling it one of the best missions they've ever been a part of.

Nick Vlahos, 41, and his family were airlifted out of a rugged section of Tahoe National Forest on Thursday.
PHOTOS: Oakland family rescued in the Sierra return home

Their truck got stuck Wednesday morning, forcing him and his five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter to survive a frigid night in the woods.

The pilot who found them said their chopper was running low on gas when they finally spotted the family.

"I think the sentiment in the aircraft that night was you know, we're gonna get these guys outta here now. We're gonna get them back. We were able to shut down and physically see the reunion with the family. It was emotional. It was a pretty good one," said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Brockly.

Vlahos told ABC7 News that for two days, he tried everything to attract the attention of the would-be rescuers he could see, but who could not see them.

"He had written things in the sand. He had left things on the side of the riverbank. He had covered all of the possibilities. He had a strobe light out. He had lights to shine on them. They found him because he was shooting up the strobe light. That's what they saw," explained Rob Wharton, a family friend.

Having spent several days camping at Fiddle Creek with his family, it is believed that Vlahos had plenty of supplies to last he and his family one week.

Keeping the kids warm and fed was one thing, but through it all, the Vlahos had to keep his two young children calm and not reveal his own fears to them.

Tired and obviously too sleepy to talk, those two kids, Mila and Nicky Vlahos, finally arrived safely at their grandparent's home in Piedmont.

Their father, Nick, stayed behind to help crews get his pickup truck out of the wilderness where it was stuck for two days.

"We're so happy, we're so blessed. We just want to thank all our friends and family for praying for us and sending so many vibes. We're so blessed. We are very fortunate," said Alex Vlahos, Nick's brother who flew in from Hawaii.

The grandparents were there Vlahos and the kids arrived after being rescued.

"I was so worried that my grandchildren would be traumatized, but they said it was like a camping trip," said Marianne Wehmeyer, the grandmother.

"I was worried about my mom, just to be supportive. A couple of hours before my flight left we got the good news," said Nick's sister who came in from New York City.

Vlahos' wife remained in Kentucky where she's visiting her 102-year-old grandfather.

"I figured that my son did it this way so that my daughter from New York and my son from Hawaii could celebrate Mother's day!" joked Wehmeyer.

Related Topics:
missing childrenmissing personfamilysearchalameda countysierranational guardsearch and rescuerescueOaklandPiedmont
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