ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard’s newest fast-response cutter has been named in honor of a late petty officer who was stationed in Neah Bay for two years prior to his death in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cutter Nathan Bruckenthal was commissioned Wednesday in Alexandria, Va. It will be stationed at Atlantic Beach, N.C.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal and two U.S. Navy sailors were mortally wounded while conducting maritime intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf on April 24, 2004, Coast Guard officials said.
Bruckenthal and six others were attempting to board a small boat near the Iraqi Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal when the vessel exploded, according to a Coast Guard news release.
Bruckenthal died from his injuries. He was the first Coast Guard member killed in action since the Vietnam War.
He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.”
“The explosion alerted all in the area to an ongoing coordinated attack, allowing security forces to destroy two additional explosive-laden vessels, thereby preventing massive casualties, irreversible environmental damage, and the destruction of the Iraqi peoples’ major economic lifelines,” the Bronze Star Medal citation stated.
“By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty, Petty Officer Bruckenthal reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Coast Guard and the United States Naval Service.”
In a 2003 interview in Bahrain for a Coast Guard Iraqi Freedom documentary, Bruckenthal reflected on his time in Neah Bay.
“It’s Neah Bay, Washington; the end of the world,” Bruckenthal said, “and I was there for two years.”
The 154-foot Nathan Bruckenthal is the Coast Guard’s 28th fast response cutter.
It is the second fast response cutter stationed in Atlantic Beach, N.C., in the Coast Guard’s Fifth District.
Fast response cutters are replacing the Coast Guard’s 110-foot Island-class patrol boats.
They are equipped with advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, Coast Guard officials said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.