Sailors assigned to coastal patrol craft USS Firebolt (PC 10) held a remembrance ceremony and rededicated a memorial, onboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, on the tenth anniversary of the attack on Firebolt, April 24.
On April 24, 2004, an attack claimed the lives of Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Michael Pernaselli, Signalman 2nd Class Christopher Watts, and U.S. Coast Guard Damage Controlman 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal. The incident occurred near Iraq’s oil terminals while conducting maritime security operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf.
Around 200 service members and civilians from around NSA Bahrain attended the ceremony.
“This ceremony and the actions of the fallen Sailors reminds us why we wear the uniform,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mitch McGuffie, commanding officer of Firebolt. “It’s the history that inspires and motivates us and it reminds us of the people who have gone before us.”
As part of the10 year anniversary, Coastguardsmen assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) lead an effort to raise money and rebuild the memorial, which stands in Main Street Park on NSA Bahrain.
“The previous memorial was weathered and was in need of repair,” said Store Keeper Chief Kevin Couture, assigned to USCG PATFORSWA. “We wanted to focus on one meaningful project to make the memorial look better. We contacted the crew of Firebolt and we worked together to create something more befitting. In the end, we have something we hope the families and service members will see and remember well into the future.”
The new memorial, which was designed by Information Technician Chief Mike Church, assigned to USCG PATFORSWA, contains an encased U.S. flag, the medals awarded to the service members, and rank insignia. An orange life ring from Firebolt hangs below. Sailors assigned to Coastal Patrol Squadron (PCRON) 1 cut out sections of the steel railing and replaced it with white braided rope to represent lifelines found along the outer edge of weather decks aboard Navy ships.
“We lost three of our shipmates ten years ago and even though we have never met these Sailors, we see their names on the bulkheads in Firebolt’s passageways every day,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jose Valencia, assigned to Firebolt. “We see their names and we know who they are. We are a tight-knit crew and they are a part of our family. It is an honor to be here today and recognize their sacrifice.”
Press Release, April 28, 2014; Image: US Navy