Coast Guard Honors Helicopter Team Lost Trying to Save Crew of Sailing Ship

Press release from the US Coast Guard:

The mother of Lt. j.g. Charles Thigpen IV places flowers at the Humboldt Bay Memorial before a memorial ceremony at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, June 8, 2017. Thigpen was one of four crewmembers lost in the line of duty 20 years ago when the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter CG-6549 crashed 57 miles west of Cape Mendocino, Calif., during a search-and-rescue mission to save five sailors in a storm. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson.

The mother of Lt. j.g. Charles Thigpen IV places flowers at the Humboldt Bay Memorial before a memorial ceremony at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, June 8, 2017. Thigpen was one of four crewmembers lost in the line of duty 20 years ago when the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter CG-6549 crashed 57 miles west of Cape Mendocino, Calif., during a search-and-rescue mission to save five sailors in a storm. [U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson]

The crew of Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay held a memorial service in McKinleyville, Thursday, in remembrance of the crew of the rescue helicopter 6549 helicopter that crashed 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission.

A ceremonial color guard team at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay presents colors before a memorial service held in remembrance of the crew and passengers of the CG-6549 helicopter that crashed 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission. Lt. Jeffrey F. Crane, 35, of Marshfield, Massachusetts; Lt. j.g. Charles W. Thigpen IV, 26, of Riverside, California; Aviation Machinist’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard L. Hughes, 33, from Black Canyon, Arizona; and Aviation Survivalman Petty Officer 3rd Class James G. Caines, 26, of Hinesville, Georgia, died in the line of duty. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.

A ceremonial color guard team at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay presents colors at the memorial service. [U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.]

The ceremony paid tribute to the two pilots and two crewmembers who lost their lives aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during an effort to save five mariners stranded on a Canadian sailing vessel during a storm. Lt. Jeffrey F. Crane, 35, of Marshfield, Massachusetts; Lt. j.g. Charles W. Thigpen IV, 26, of Riverside, California; Aviation Machinist’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard L. Hughes, 33, from Black Canyon, Arizona; and Aviation Survivalman Petty Officer 3rd Class James G. Caines, 26, of Hinesville, Georgia, died in the line of duty.“Flying helicopters is dangerous in any weather,” said Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, Coast Guard 11th District commander, during the ceremony.  “Doing so in the extremes we regularly ask of our Coast Guard crews requires courage, skill and dedication to helping others, three traits embodied by all crew members on the 6549.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jaykob Reed, an aviation maintenance technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, carries a memorial wreath past family members of a fallen flight crew at a memorial service held at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, June 8, 2017. The memorial was held on the 20th anniversary of the CG-6549 helicopter crash that killed two pilots and two crewmembers during a search-and-rescue operation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jaykob Reed, an aviation maintenance technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, carries a memorial wreath past family members of the fallen flight crew. [U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.]

Following the memorial, a Coast Guard helicopter crew laid a wreath at sea near the location of the crash.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffry Moeschler, an avionics electrical technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, lays a wreath at sea west of Cape Mendocino, in remembrance of a Humboldt Bay flight crew that died in a helicopter crash 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission. Two pilots and two crewmembers lost their lives aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during an effort to save five mariners stranded on a Canadian sailing vessel during a storm. U.S. Coast photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffry Moeschler, an avionics electrical technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, lays a wreath at sea west of Cape Mendocino, in remembrance of a Humboldt Bay flight crew that died in a helicopter crash 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission. Two pilots and two crewmembers lost their lives aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during an effort to save five mariners stranded on a Canadian sailing vessel during a storm. U.S. Coast photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson.

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15 comments

  • mendocino mamma

    Beautiful and finally. RIP

  • Thank you.

  • The USCG unofficial motto states: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.”

    “Coasties” take their unofficial motto, as well as their official motto “Semper Paratus” (Always Prepared) seriously everyday.

  • God bless these families. And thanks to all the coasties and their bravery for the job they do and have done. God bless you all

  • God bless the members of the Coast Guard and their families. Thank you for your service and personal sacrifice.

  • What about the crash at sheltercove i didn’t known there was two how unfortunate sempre paratus when i was stationed at small boat ststion humboldt bay there whas a sign that sed you have to go out but you don’t have to come back the coast guard motto always ready is what we lived for.

  • Sandra George-Manning

    The United States Coast Guard Is the highest quality emergency service on the planet. What an example the rescue helicopter 6549 displayed during their effort to save mariners lives. Thank you. SEMPER PARATUS.

  • I was stationed at air station humboldt bay as a non rate and was on my way from a school to Seattle when I herd about it. R.I.P ship mates.

  • As a mariner, I am always gratefully aware that the Coast Guard is there. It is my job to be prepared. Did the sailing crew parish as well?
    May all who lost their lives feel safe, warm and loved now.

  • STEVEN THOMPSON

    We got caught in the same storm as that Gorden Lightfoot song,The Edmond Fitzgerold.USCG CUTTER OJIBWAY (WYTM-97),I keep all members of our military in my prayers

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