Santiago, Chile, Nov 12, 2015 / 06:02 am
Technically, Greg Hall and his team of drilling specialists had done their job when they located 33 miners believed to be trapped – and possibly dead – in a collapsed mine in Chile in 2010.
The Chilean government had recruited Hall and his team because their specialized drilling equipment could go nearly twice the depth as could the government's equipment.
But when Hall watched the emotional 'virtual' reunions of the trapped miners and their families, he knew he was in it for the long haul.
"In watching that, it really made me feel like I was part of their family," Hall told CNA. "As my wife would tell you, I couldn't sleep at night. I just kept on getting up, thinking 'What would I do if that were my son or my brother down there?'"
"That gave me the impetus to go ahead and call the government … and that's how we actually got involved in the final rescue."
"It was really God's hand just prompting me to rescue my brother."
Hall, who owns several drilling manufacturers in Minnesota, Texas, and Chile, was the mastermind behind the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped after the collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine in the nation. The search and rescue operation took nearly three months and captured the attention and prayers of the world.
All 33 miners survived the collapse, but not without a little help from God, Hall said.
"There was really no technology or design to get people out that deep – in the kind of conditions they were in," Hall said. "All the computer models, all the calculations, showed that we would fail."
What was perhaps Hall's greatest challenge came the day his equipment finally reached the miners. He and his team had drilled to within 400 feet from the space where the miners were trapped. At that point, their drill got stuck and it seemed they would have to defy the laws of physics to push onward.
"All the calculations had proven out that we were just beyond the parameters of what was technically possible," Hall said.
In that moment, Hall prayed a prayer he said he would never forget.
"I told God, 'We've done everything that we can do, Lord. Those are 33 of your children down there. We've done everything we can do. If you want to get them out, you're going to have to send your holy angels down and dig my bit out, because we're finished'."
And then, his bit began to move – which Hall maintains was a miracle.
"I've told everybody that that job can't be done," he said. "I didn't do that job. God drilled that hole, and I just had a good seat. It just shows that our Lord … is working in this world … and a billion people saw it."
Last month marked 5 years since the dramatic rescue. The Chilean miners celebrated the anniversary at an audience with Pope Francis.
Hall remembers one of the miners asking him several years ago why the world continues to be so enraptured with their story.
"He asked me, 'Greg, we're poor lowly miners. Why did anybody care?' Our Church teaches that all of us are created in the image and likeness of God … and I think this was a time when, worldwide, everybody could understand and relate to those miners."
"This was a time when we were actually able to come together as a people, as a family, and understand that we're all brothers and sisters of the same Father."