Losing Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Soldiers in combat action is difficult, though an inherent risk of being a member of the armed forces. Military members around the world find themselves in non-traditional roles, broadening thier horizons, and serving their country honorably and with distinction.
The reason I bring up USS Firebolt, other than being a 5th Fleet asset, is that nine years ago yesterday, two Sailors and one Coast Guardsman lost their lives defending an oil terminal from suicide bombers. That’s right, a Coast Guardsman. It was the first death in combat for the U.S. Coast Guard since the Vietnam War. Yes, they served there too and played a vital role in coastal security, and later fire support for the U.S. Navy.
The Coast Guard and the Navy have a history of working together, from counter-drug operations to coastal security, and in 5th Fleet island class cutters and patrol coastal ships routinely train and operate in tandem. In the case of Firebolt in 2004, and several other ships then and today, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen serve on ships together.
Yesterday, Sailors from Task Force 55 and Coast Guardsmen from U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia gathered at the USS FIrebolt memorial aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain to honor the service and sacrifices of Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Michael Pernaselli, U.S. Navy; Signalman 2nd Class Christopher Watts, U.S. Navy; and Damage Controlman 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, U.S. Coast Guard.
At sea, the current crew of the Firebolt assembled on the forecastle to remember and salute those members of the sea-going services that were lost while serving honorably in the defense of National and regional interests.
During the ceremony at sea, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas E. Cunningham III, commanding officer of Firebolt, said to his crew:
“The bravest of all men join into sea going services . In the spring of 2004, three of these great men were aboard USS Firebolt. Today we honor the memories of these three men who gave their lives in the defense of others.”
To the ladies and gentlemen who have given their lives in defense of our country and others:
– Fleet LT