Strawberry guava and ants was what two Army ROTC cadets subsisted on while lost overnight in a jungle warfare course in Wahiawa, said a Mililani man who helped the men find their way back to civilization.
Scott Fisher, 29, said he was hiking a trail unofficially known as Wahiawa Hills on Sunday morning with his family when he found the two men from Florida.
The cadets, from an unnamed college on the mainland, became lost Saturday while participating in a land navigation training course in Schofield Barracks’ East Range off California Avenue, said Lt. Col. Curt Kellogg, spokesman for the Army’s 25th Infantry Division.
They went missing in the jungle operations training course, which is about 6 square miles and covered with dense vegetation.
Saturday afternoon, the Army launched a search that included about 200 soldiers after the two failed to return by noon. Honolulu police and firefighters also assisted in the search, Kellogg said.
On Sunday morning, Fisher was hiking when he saw a military helicopter hovering nearby and could hear someone blowing a whistle, but he thought it was some kind of military exercise.
He realized someone possibly needed help after getting closer to the whistling. When he whistled back, the other party started whistling frantically non-stop.
Fisher said he left the trail and found the cadets about a three minute walk below in the valley. One of them was carrying a stick with a deflated white tube tied to it like a flag.
“The look on their faces was a sigh of relief,” he said.
The cadets, dressed in Army fatigues and carrying canteens, a compass, and rifles, told him they got lost during a training session and had to spend the night in the jungle. They said they only ate strawberry guava they picked from a tree and ants for their meals and had to huddle together overnight for warmth.
Fisher shared some of his water with the men, who appeared to be in their late teens, and took them on a shortcut back to the military grounds where there was an open gate in the fence.
The men went inside and Fisher, who didn’t want to trespass on military property, watched as they walked up a road and were greeted by military personnel.
He said the men thanked him profusely before they left.
Kellogg said the cadets did say someone hiking in the wilderness helped them find their way out.
The Army said after searching overnight and into the morning the cadets were found on a road in the training area at about 11 a.m. Sunday.