HC-130H Climbing in the Sunset.

On Friday, November 6, 2009 at 11:00 am U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, McClellan, California a memorial service was held to honor the crews of HC-130H CGNR 1705 and a U.S. Marine Helicopter.

Under somber skies befitting the occasion, over 2,500 people including hundreds of members of the Coast Guard "family" from across the nation gathered to honor the seven Coast Guard and two Marine flyers who were lost as a result of a mid-air collision between Coast Guard C-130 CGNR 1705 and a Marine helicopter.

The ceremony was conducted in a large tent erected on the Air Station's ramp, and was filled to capacity with Coast Guard members, Marine representatives and other military branches, law enforcement officers, relatives and friends of the downed flyers. At the front, framed photographs of each flyer were positioned above a flight suit, a pair of flight boots, and a headset. Captain Thomas Farris, Commander of Sector/Air Station San Diego acted as Master of Ceremonies. After the Presentation of the Colors by the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, the Pipes and Drums of the California Professional Firefighters played an appropriate tune as they slowly marched down the center aisle.

After the Invocation by Commander Darrell Wesley, the District 11 Chaplain, Captain Farris read a Congressional Joint Resolution honoring the lost crewmembers. That was followed by the command "Post the Colors", after which a folded American flag was reverently placed in front of the photos of each of the nine.

Captain J. J. O'Connor, Commanding Officer, CGAS Sacramento offered memories of each of the seven Guardians, recognizing their unique talents, personalities and contributions to the unit. He asked the mourners to "lift each other up, mindful of our loss, but resolved to find joy." He went on to say that "We will never get over this, but we will get through this. I am not the same person I was a week ago, but I am renewed and looking forward."

Following Captain O'Connor's remarks, Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals were posthumously awarded to each of the seven Coast Guard crewmembers, and presented by Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, to their family representatives.

After remarks by Master Chief Skip Bowen, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, including a recitation of "Crossing the Bar", Admiral Allen read a letter of condolence from Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, expressing the entire Department's sense of loss. Admiral Allen went on to say that "No ceremony is as difficult as this one, in this place, at this time. What are we to make of this? We try to understand the unfathomable, and we cannot. We look for answers, and there are none".

After a Memorial Meditation and Prayer by Chaplain Wesley, a HH-65C and HC-130H conducted a Fly-by. Then the Ceremonial Honor Guard, which had been holding the outstretched National Ensign for the entire ceremony, solemnly folded it in the traditional tri-fold manner and presented it the Air Station's Command Master Chief, who in turn presented it to Captain O'Connor. The ceremonies concluded with the Coast Guard Band playing the Coast Guard Hymn, a rifle salute and the playing of Taps.
21 Gun Rifle Salute

Following the ceremony, a reception for family and friends was held in the hangar, as video clips of each of the crewmembers were displayed on a large screen in front of the tables.

It was a deeply moving ceremony that left very few, if any, dry eyes. Most importantly, it was a fitting tribute to the fallen who gave their last measure.

LCDR Che J. Barnes
Aircraft Commander

LT Adam W. Bryant

AMTC John F. Seidman
Flighr Engineer

AET2 Carl P. Grigonis

AET2 Monica L. Beacham
Radio Operator

AMT2 Jason S. Moletzsky
Air Crew

AMT3 Danny R. Kreder II
Drop Master


Coast Guard Guardian Ethos

I am America's Maritime Guardian.

I serve the citizens of the United States.

I will protect them.

I will defend them.

I will save them.

I am their Shield.

For them I am Semper Paratus.

I live the Coast Guard Core Values.

I am a Guardian.

We are the United States Coast Guard.

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