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