Twenty years ago today, the Coast Guard Foundation held its Annual Salute to the U.S. Coast Guard in New York City. The event was complicated by a brutal nor'easter that was battering the East Coast that night.
The Coast Guard Foundation President at the time, John Sargent, watched from his seat on a New York-bound train, as waves crashed on Connecticut's shoreline while gale force winds pummeled the coast. He feared that the storm would wreak havoc on the Foundation's awards dinner scheduled for that evening. The show, as they say, went on, though.
The cutter Tamaroa pictured in heavy seas in October 1991.
During the dinner program, Vice Admiral Paul Welling, then Atlantic Area Commander of the Coast Guard, announced that at that very moment, Coast Guard crews were searching for a downed helicopter. Five airmen from the New York Air National Guard were missing. Welling asked for a moment of silence and prayer for the search crew and the missing men.
It seems the prayers were answered, because that night, in 40-foot seas and 70-knot winds, the cutter Tamaroa rescued seven people that night — four of the five missing guardsmen, and three people from a sailboat that had been caught in the storm. One of the national guardsmen, sadly, did not survive. At the time, the nor'easter was simply called The Halloween Storm. It would later be known as The Perfect Storm, immortalized by author Sebastian Junger in his book of the same name.
Appropriately, one year later, Commander Lawrence Brudnicki stood on stage in New York to accept the Foundation's award for heroism on behalf of the crew of the Tamaroa and the staggering efforts they undertook on Halloween 1991.
Rescue swimmer David Moore gives the thumbs up after rescuing three members off a sailboat that was caught in the Perfect Storm of October 1991.