to the miners were our guys.
Jeff Hart was drilling water wells for the U.S. Army's forward operating bases in Afghanistan when he got the call to fly to Chile.
He spent the next 33 days on his feet, operating the drill that finally provided a way out Saturday for 33 trapped miners.
"You have to feel through your feet what the drill is doing; it's a vibration you get so that you know what's happening," explained Hart, a contractor from Denver, Colorado.
Within hours after the gold and copper mine collapsed Aug. 5, Chile's government realized the mine's owners were ill-equipped to handle the rescue and asked the state-owned Codelco mining company to take the lead.
Codelco turned to Geotec Boyles Bros., a U.S.-Chilean company, to handle the "Plan B" escape shaft, one of three simultaneous drilling efforts that raced to reach the miners.
Geotec operations manager James Stefanic said he quickly assembled "a top of the line team" of drillers who are intimately familiar with the key equipment, including engineers from two Pennsylvania companies _ Schramm Inc., which makes the T130 drill, and Center Rock Inc., which makes the drill bits.
Hart was called in from Afghanistan, "simply because he's the best" at drilling larger holes with the T130's wide-diameter drill bits, Stefanic said.