Coast Guard Honors the Seven Who Lost Their Lives on Dec. 22, 1964 Near Strawberry Rock

Coast Guard Memorial Strawberry Rock

The wreckage of CG 1363, an HH-52 Seaguard helicopter that crashed into a mountain in a severe storm during a rescue operation Dec. 22, 1964, remains at Strawberry Rock in Trinidad, Calif., on Dec. 22, 2017. [Photo from the US Coast Guard]

Press release from the Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Memorial Strawberry RockThe Coast Guard held a memorial service at Strawberry Rock in Trinidad, Friday, to honor the crew and passengers of the CG 1363, an HH-52 Seaguard helicopter that crashed in a severe storm there during a rescue operation Dec. 22, 1964.

Lt. Cmdr. Donald Prince, from New Jersey, Royal Canadian Navy Sub-Lt. Allen Leonard Alltree and Petty Officer 2nd Class James A. Nininger, Jr., from Virginia, a Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco-based helicopter crew, and Bud Hansen, a citizen volunteer, were honored during the ceremony.

On Dec. 22, 1964, the helicopter crew was dispatched to Humboldt Bay, where roads were closed from flood damage, to assist with evacuations. At 2:48 p.m., the helicopter arrived in the Humboldt Bay area where Hansen, a local resident, volunteered to join the crew to help spot flood survivors and to help orient the crew to local landmarks. The helicopter crew, along with Hansen, began evacuating people from roof tops and flood areas, ultimately saving 10 lives.

At 6:03 p.m., weather conditions worsened and the Arcata Airport Flight Service Station (FSS) received a radio call from the helicopter, which was trying to land with three rescued people aboard in low visibility and high winds. Approximately eight minutes before the radio call the airport had lost power, disabling the radio navigation beacon that was necessary to navigate to the airport.

FSS instruments indicated that the helicopter was northwest of the airport. The controller continued to radio the pilot steering directions to help him land.

The pilot reported that he was at 1,000 feet and asked if that altitude would clear all obstructions along his path to the airport. The FSS controller replied that 1,000 feet might be inadequate due to high terrain just east of his bearing. A citizen living 12 miles north of the airport along the coast reported seeing a helicopter about one mile off shore and heading south. FSS attempted to relay the report to the pilot but could not regain communications.  Repeated calls to the helicopter were met with silence.

Three days after losing contact with the crew of CG 1363, a U.S. Navy helicopter from the U.S.S. Bennington located the crash and directed ground search parties to the site. The helicopter had crashed on a slope at 1,130 feet of elevation nine miles north of the Arcata Airport near a landmark today known as Strawberry Rock. Located with the wreckage were seven dead; the three crewmen, Hansen, two women and an infant girl.

In 1998, members of the Sector Humboldt Bay Chief Petty Officer’s Association organized an effort to establish a memorial on the grounds of Sector Humboldt Bay.

The memorial was erected to honor the CG 1363 crew, the crew of the CG 6541 that crashed in 1994 and the crew of the CG 6549 that crashed in 1997.



  • Thank you for your service men and women of the united states coast guard you rock

  • Hero’s, Semper paratus my friends, you have to go out but you don’t have to come back.

  • I remember that. It was a sad day. It’s nice that people honor those who died. Thank you Kym.

  • Like all people who put their lives on the line to help those in danger, Honers to them.

  • We do our best when we give it our best…like the Coasties who crashed at Shelter Cove these service men and civilians show us how to do what is right…RIP, SALUTE!

  • USCG the best.

  • I stumbled across the wreckage & the crash site 25 years after the incident. I was riding my bike off the LP M-line. It was very unnerving. The first piece I found was one of the pontoon out rigger floats. Wasn’t until I found the bulky hull that I realized it was a helicopter. Underneath the Coast Guard paint, I could see the US Marine markings. I assumed the helicopter was re-purposed by the Coast Guard.

    • I would like to respectfully visit the site. Are you saying that if I get to the proper elevation I will be able to see it from the M- line ? I wish I could find the coordinates before I go in. That airframe was built for the Coast Guard. Much of the running gear was re-purposed.

  • My father, LCDR Donald Prince, lost his life that day, along with the other brave military men and the beautiful civilians. My love and respect go out to the Coast Guard for never forgetting and always honoring.
    Sincerely, Sharon Spear (Prince)

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