FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

Real Life Castaway: FedEx Pilot Survives 20 Hours in the Ocean

November 30, 2016

It was June 1, the first day of grouper season, and FedEx Pilot Bill Durden was out fishing.  He quickly landed two large groupers and was enjoying a beautiful day 25 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moments later he found himself in the water, without a life jacket, watching his boat quickly motor away from him.

It’s easy to panic when there are no boats or land in sight.  Instead, Durden’s Navy survival training from 30 years ago immediately came back to him, and he started making a plan.

It would be 20 hours before the U.S. Coast Guard rescued Durden.

Hear his first-hand account of how a dream day at sea quickly turned to nightmare.



    Daniel Pollock says:

    Great video True test of the will to survive. Thanks

    Pat Edwards-Sipp says:

    That was an amazing testimony. Thank God that he prepared you well for that day and that you survived to tell about it.

    Linda Guillebeau says:

    WOW! Thank you Jason for sharing your incredible story. I love the fact that you applied your past training. Blessings to you and family. Praises to God! You are a true survivor.

    Vincent Smith says:

    I’m so happy for you and your wife. mind over matter thanks to Jehovah you didn’t panic. I thank Jehovah for saving your life what an ordeal I’m really glad to hear how,thanks went to God for saving your life in the comments. I wish you and your family the best,enjoy your boating.

    Frank Cherichella says:

    God Bless our Aquaman !! Or perhaps he would like to be called Sub Mariner !!

    Linda Feathers says:

    Relieved that your story ends well. And what a story of training and instinct kicking-in. Nice Job!
    God Bless!!!

    Peter Kispert says:

    All I can say is WOW. I am glad you had the necessary training that gave you the chance to survive. Thanks for sharing your story.

    jp says:

    would like to hear more on survival techniques…. Comments disabled… ugh.

    Kim Bruce says:

    Great story! Inspiring and uplifting. Such tenacity.

    John Bennett says:

    Amazing story! Well done

    Howard says:

    Wow…this is unbelievable…you are the luckiest man alive, to survive this ordeal!

    Josef Elsen says:

    Amazing Story, Fortunately with a good end!Great Job

    Sandy Jones says:

    Wow! An amazing story! Your focus and determination in the middle of the ocean with all the “critters” is impressive!

    Sharon Percival says:

    Fabulous story and great relief to know it ended well. They should make it into a short movie..You never know, some day someone may say they survived because they’d seen the movie !!

    Nancy says:

    Bill what an amazing story with a GREAT ending. You certainly have Angels all around you!!!! Hope you and your family ENJOY life to the fullest each and everyday!!! Thanks so much for sharing makes you really appreciate life!!

    Gail Dickson says:

    Very glad to see/hear you and your family have been reunited to continue your celebration of life.

    Dede Ivey says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! So glad you are ok.

    BP says:

    Veteran on sea you still got to wear your life jacket…..

    Jimmy Van Epps says:

    Great story of survival and mental fortitude.
    Well done on the video, Jason.

    Cynthia Moore says:

    Wow! Your story is absolutely incredible!

    John Whittington says:

    WOW! amazing story… Thank you for sharing. Your Navy training and will to survive is incredible and thank you for delivering the purple promise everyday!

    Grant Guffin says:

    Fantastic piece of storytelling, Jason! Beautiful shots, nice interplay between Bill and his wife. Well done!

    allen harrison says:

    Incredible story of survival. true testament of military training and survival instincts kicking in. God Bless you.

    Suzanne Scudder says:

    I used to live and fish a lot in Florida and I remember divers feared Groupers because they could get sucked into the fish whole diving. This was a different incident and reminds us of how fragile life is and can be taken in a moment. Thank you for your story, very glad you had survival skills!

    Jana Boyella says:

    Will Power – Wins the race. Very Inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    Edgar says:

    That was intense!!! God bless you sir

    Cathy Lambert says:

    What an inspiring story of attitude, the will to survive, and a testament to the training our military gives to those who serve. Thank you for your service and for sharing your story. I am going to pass it onto my son, age 30, who is medically retired from the Army. God Bless you and your family.

    Ed Jaro says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    Robin says:

    What a great story of survival. Naval training kicked in. Great job Sir!! Made my day to see this video. From another U.S. Navy Veteran / FedEx Employee.

    Wendy Mundy says:

    Great story! Happy it ended well.

    Stephen Gross says:

    A great story, I hope your boat was not damaged.

    DANA HIXSON says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! this is a movie for the making fedex succcess story!

    Gary says:

    Amazing story!

    Anonymous says:

    Amazing story…so gald you are here to tell us about how you were able to survive..

    James Maxwell says:

    God Bless you Bill and especially your wife! Situations like this make us all appreciate life that much more.

    Georgia says:

    Impressive story! We only hire the best vets!

    Dale Wilson LAX says:

    WoW! You didn’t panic and your training kick in. God was watching over you. you can be my pilot anytime.

    Shrivatsan Iyengar says:

    Great Story…..You have a true FedEx Purple blood …..cheers

    Mario Gallant says:

    Wow ! What an amazing story. Motivation, Believe in yourself..

    Tom Durden says:

    What a great way to tell your story, a good ending to, I bet you and your wife are the safest people to go fishing with now lol

    Lisa Durden says:

    Thank you for a great story, Jason! Bill and I are so grateful for all the people that helped in his search: USCG; Florida Fish and Wildlife; Ellen and Ernie Croft of Seatow and other private citizens who aided in the search as well as the Citrus Co. Sheriff Deputies who did their part ( glad they cleared me as murder suspect!). Most of all, God’s Devine Intervention. Thank you, Lisa Durden

    Rocky says:

    Simply amazing! Miracles happen every day; so glad to hear about this one.

    Pam Rumble says:

    Wow! What an amazing story of survival! You were very brave in the face of incredible odds and survived.
    This would be a exciting chapter in a book! Best to you and your family!

    Abhilash C G says:

    Amazing to hear the survival story, admire your will power and thought process without panic.

    ken martel says:

    God blesses us in ways we cannot comprehend at times,so glad you made it.Its pretty cool the way military training comes back to you. I was in the army and can still remember my training even though I have a hard time in other areas of memory. Thank You for your service and God Bless you!

    Mark Brant says:

    Great story, and well done production by FedEx. I am in Destin fishing from my boat as I read this. Glad it all worked out for you and your wife, God obviously has a plan for you

    Cynthia Lacey says:

    What an amazing, powerful, thankful & grateful story! Thank you for sharing . God is so awesome and HE has plans for you. To cradle you in HIS loving arms watching over you so no harm or danger touched you is remarkable. God bless you and your family

    Tess says:

    Incredible story and a reminder about staying hopeful in the face of such adversity!

    Deborah Jones says:

    I’m so thankful for your training, stamina, presence of mind and God’s blessing and that you didn’t give up or give in.

    Mary Allen says:

    woozaa…what an incredible will to survive. God was surely looking out for you.

    Judy Edge says:

    Wow! Amazing story!! An inspiration to us all.

    Kelvin Golden says:

    Wow! What a story and what a Blessing for you to have survived such and ordeal. Continued blessing to you and your family. 🙂

    Ricardo Baquero says:

    I think the comments above from Cynthia Lacey, said it all. I feel like maybe I have a second chance of life, after hearing your story. God bless, I am glad this story had and happy ending. It is truly a miracle.

    Tyler Hays says:

    I saw this post on the FedEx homepage. I’m an employee at the Memphis World Hub, I was talking with a pilot at our Tour Lobby, He told me of this story and I was shocked hearing it and now seeing it featured on FedEx homepage. Truly amazing, Thank God he was with you in your darkest hours.

    jaymin says:

    simply superb survival. god bless..its learning for us to never lose hope in any condition.

    Tommy says:

    Thanks be to god!

    Kim Bevan says:

    Glad your still with us! God was watching out for you that day.

    Karla Sommers says:

    Amazing story.

    Leah G says:

    All I can say is WOOOWWWW. God is Good! What an Amazing testimony. Your training and ability to compartmentalize the situation in order to save your life speaks volumes.

    Sondra L Brown says:

    Your story was very inspirational! Thank God for your previous training and His mercy to carry you through that experience! I am happy you made it!

    Sylvia P. Browne says:

    Wow! Great Story.

    Terry Bennett says:

    Amazing story! Thanks for sharing! It will give hope and inspiration during difficult times.

    Carleton Kennedy says:

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing.

    Julie Henry says:

    Amazing story! Thank you for sharing and happy to hear the positive outcome…

    Leslie Vaughn says:

    Unbelievable! Some of us may have died of fright! An extraordinary story of determination, stamina and bravery.

    J. Fleming says:

    thank you Jason. Stories like yours remind us to cherish our loved ones & make the most out of each min. with them.

    Glenn Pereira says:

    The strength and will power you exhibited in a situation like this is incredible.Your an iron man
    God bless you and your family.

    God is indeed good.

    thank you for sharing a great story

    S Rose says:

    Go Navy! Navy Mom

    Katie Brimer says:

    What a remarkable story. Its truly incredible what you endured. God bless you and your wife!

    Curtis Winn says:

    Until a few very short years ago, before I started working for FedEx, I would have likely been one of the Coast Guard air crew that came after you. I had a lot of cases like this one but very few with this happy ending. Good job Sir, you got some grit.

    Dave Sorrell says:

    He is one lucky guy. That story has a lot in it to learn from – like what Not to do when you’re out on the ocean alone (life jacket, engine throttle, single engine 25 miles out). He is one lucky guy.

    Ian Dunn says:

    Incredible story – what a will to survive..

    Doretta Bailey says:

    Wow, what a miracle. He survive in spite of, nothing but God and thank God for those early survival skills that he thought he had forgotten, kicked in like it was yesterday.

    Sall says:

    Incredible story!! God is always in charge

    Arti Rangra says:

    Amazing Story . Hats off to your will power.

    G Waites says:

    Great story, glad all turned out well.

    Geraldine Moody says:

    Thank God for keeping you safe. Great story.

    john isaac says:

    Great ending to an unbelievable story. As a native Floridian now living in Arizona I can relate to the love of salt water fishing. Sadly I understand how that could happen. Grateful it all turned out ok.

    Christy Glaviano says:

    Miracles do happen!

    Ina Tonkin says:

    Hi Bill, Good job!!! You are the best!!! Good work Lisa ! I care, Ina

    Ayaz Banglorewala says:


    Michele says:

    That story gave me chills! What an inspiration. Never give up and appreciate each day, are the great lessons learned!

    Pamela Black says:

    Amazing story! Staying on course in the midst of trials and tribulations is so awesome!

    Annee Bui says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing story! Your unbelievable story truly just made my day!

    Onkar Patil says:


    SCOTT BAKER says:

    Timeless survival story it taught me a thing or two i didn’t know. I always wounder how i would act in certain situations especially alone, you truly had what it takes to survive. TY S.BAKER USMC

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