The U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday dedicated the staff barracks at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey in memory of Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, who was killed in action during the Iraq War in 2004.
The Coast Guard Foundation provided funding for the memorial, which included renaming the barracks Bruckenthal Hall, as well as an exhibit in the entryway honoring Bruckenthal's service to his country.
Tuesday's ceremony marked the 13th anniversary of the day that Bruckenthal graduated from basic training and officially became a Coast Guardsman.
Seaman Recruit Jerome Johnson, a young Coast Guardsman, held Bruckenthal's company flag at Tuesday's ceremony, and he reflected upon this honor on the Coast Guard Compass blog.
I never met him. I never served with him, but he was a Coast Guardsman. He is my brother because of that. My shipmates in attendance felt the same way. He's our hero. We are his legacy. He lives on in each Coast Guardsman who graduates from Training Center Cape May. He is present in each Coast Guardsman standing the watch. We will never forget. Because now, he is truly always present here. His name is Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal. He died for our Freedom. Semper Paratus.
Bruckenthal's sacrifice inspired many people, including the Coast Guard Foundation. As a result of Nathan's death, Foundation Trustee John Statts endowed the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to the dependents of Coast Guard personnel who die in the line of duty.
The first beneficiary of the Fallen Heroes program was Nathan's wife, Pattie Bruckenthal, who was pregnant with their daughter, Harper, at the time of Nathan's death.
With the help of the scholarship, Mrs. Bruckenthal was able to finish a degree in nursing, a career that was inspired by Nathan's life. For his actions, Bruckenthal was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.
"I am so amazed that other people would extend their hand the way they have to both my daughter and (me)," Pattie said. "It still amazes me how people that I do not know are so willing to help make a brighter future for my family, and I will be forever grateful."