NORFOLK -- For the first time, the North Carolina commercial fisherman who helped rescue the downed Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot last week in the Atlantic Ocean is talking about the experience.

Bryan Daniels of Bellhaven, N.C. is back on dry land and speaking about last Wednesday's events. Daniels was enroute to New Jersey on fishing trip when the mayday call went out.

The jet had taken off from NAS Oceana and experienced problems in-flight, about 45 miles out to sea, when the pilot had to ditch the aircraft and eject.

By the time Daniels reached him, the aviator was having a hard time.

'He just hollered 'help me' three or four times,' Daniels said by phone. 'Then, by the time we got to him and tied him to the side of the boat, he hollered he couldn't breathe about two or three times.'

Daniels said he was glad to render aid until Navy rescuers arrived on the scene, but he said he's not a hero, he simply did what any mariner would do.

'All the boats that would've around would've done the exact same thing, I think they would anyway,' he said.

According to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, the unidentified pilot remains in critical condition.

The Navy has recovered the jet's deployable in-flight recording system which will help shed light on what went wrong.

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