Laura Montero never thought her fun cruise to Mexico would end on a U.S. naval carrier surrounded by 3,000 sailors.
The 14-year-old owes her life to the men and women of the USS Ronald Reagan, one of the largest aircraft carriers in the Navy, who saved her in a mission worthy of Hollywood script.
Montero was aboard the Dawn Princess cruise ship off the coast of Baja, Mexico, Saturday when her appendix burst.
"It was a matter of life and death so it wasn't very good at all," said Montero's mother, Trudy LaField.
The crew of the Dawn Princess put out an SOS, and the U.S. Navy heeded the call.
The USS Ronald Reagan was on a training mission in the Pacific Ocean 550 miles away and immediately dispatched two helicopters.
Montero needed emergency surgery that couldn't be performed on the cruise ship, but getting to her wasn't easy.
"They evacuated the whole back end of the ship so that the helicopter could come and lower the basket. They put her in the basket," LaField said. "She had a little stuffed animal dog and she was holding that for dear life."
Hours later, Montero was aboard the carrier where crews rushed her into surgery.
Surprisingly, this isn't the first time the military has saved someone with appendicitis on a cruise ship.
It also happened to Dan Adams, an ABC reporter in Sacramento, Calif., who was 1,500 miles off shore in the Pacific when two Blackhawk helicopters flew him all the way to Northern California for surgery.
Adams recovered fully, and Montero is also expected to make a full recovery. She is still resting aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, but she and her family will be pulling back into San Diego today.
Her family, meanwhile, is extremely grateful for the carrier's quick response.
"It was beyond words. It was like the whole world just lifted off of my shoulders," LaField said.