TODAY | April 10, 2014
>>> the family at the center of a dramatic ocean rescue is back on dry land this morning. and for the first time, we're hearing from the men who dropped out of the sky literally to help them. the story from nbc's miguel almaguer.
>> reporter: they're known as the guardian angels . the team who parachuted into the cold ten-foot swells to save the kaufman family.
>> once we boarded the ship. we started immediately, treated the youngest daughter. the 1-year-old. she was lethargic and out of it.
>> reporter: paramedics officers from the 129th rescue wing praised eric kaufman judgment, saying he did everything right.
>> family was very, very well prepared for the voyage. they had all the necessary radios and training.
>> reporter: family was 900 nautical miles off the coast of mexico when they spent out an s.o.s. they had been at sea 16 days , dealing with rough waters, mechanical problems and a sick 1-year-old.
>> the team, at some point, a couple days into it, they were ill from fatigue from high seas but they recovered.
>> reporter: for three days eight people were crammed on 36-foot "rebel heart" then a small boat crew from the "u.s.s. vandergrift" pulled alongside to bring the family to the warship.
>> it was a little hairy. but expected when you're out in the middle of nowhere where you can't see too much but waves. it kind of puts us on the edge of our seats.
>> reporter: the family arrived in san diego wednesday. their rescue team just steps behind. on twitter eric kaufman called him heroes. the best of the best . for "today," miguel almaguer, nbc news, san diego .