Pattie Bruckenthal, the first-ever recipient of The Fallen Heroes Scholarship — an endowment for dependents of Coast Guard men and women who die in the line of duty — has finished a degree in nursing. The scholarship has been generously funded by John F. Statts and his sister Delinda in honor of their parents since 2005.
Mrs. Bruckenthal is the widow of Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, who was killed in action in April 2004 during his second tour in Iraq. He was the first combat Coast Guard fatality since the Vietnam War. With the help of the full 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.
Pattie Bruckenthal and her daughter Harper Natalie before the Bruckenthal Hall Dedication ceremony at Coast Guard Station Montauk, NY, October 3, 2005.
"I have always been interested in helping others and my late husband inspired me. He volunteered as an EMT/firefighter, as well as working with the tribal police in Neah Bay, Wash.," all while he was enlisted in the Coast Guard, Mrs. Bruckenthal told the Foundation in a recent interview.
Mrs. Bruckenthal said without the help of The Fallen Heroes Scholarship she would not have been able to pursue her new career.
"I had made the commitment to myself to fulfill my dreams of becoming a nurse after Nathan passed away, but it would have been a huge financial burden for as a single mom," she said. The Fallen Heroes Scholarship not only covers Mrs. Bruckenthal's education. Her daughter Harper, who is entering kindergarten, will also be eligible for the scholarship once she reaches college age.
"I am so amazed that other people would extend their hand the way they have to both my daughter and (me)," Bruckenthal 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."