Sadly, the Coast Guard was struck by the loss of four members last February, when the helicopter crew of CG-6535 went down in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Since the day of this tragedy, the Coast Guard Foundation has supported the families and members of the Coast Guard community, affected by the crash.
The four lost crew members were: Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge; Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight; Lt. j.g. Thomas Cameron; and LCDR Dale Taylor.
During last year's New Orleans awards dinner, we asked those in attendance to answer the call and help support the families of these fallen heroes. The response was overwhelming. Thanks to the generosity of the people in the room, we were able to raise $30,000 for our Family Disaster Relief Fund in a single night.
A memorial ceremony for the crew of Coast Guard 6535 is held at Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., March 8, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
The devastation of losing a loved one cannot be measured, but the Coast Guard Foundation makes every effort to comfort families and Coast Guard personnel affected during these trying times. In the year since the tragedy of CG-6535, the Foundation, with the tremendous support of the local community and generous donors from the Coast Guard community all across the country, raised more than $63,000 for a permanent memorial at Aviation Training Center Mobile, which will be dedicated Friday, March 1, 2013.
"I would like to thank the Coast Guard Foundation for its generous show of solidarity and support in the aftermath of the recent loss of CG-6535 and its four-person crew. The Foundation's support for the memorial service at ATC Mobile...was well-received and very much appreciated." —Assistant Commandant for Resources, United States Coast Guard
Additionally, the Foundation provided funding for other personalized ceremonies for the crew members throughout the country. We funded private services for LCDR Taylor, who was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, which included renting a coach bus to transport 50 of Taylor's shipmates from Air Station Mobile so they could attend his internment ceremony in Arlington.
In honor of CPO Jorge, the Foundation supported a celebration of his life in his hometown of Cypress, California. CPO Jorge's favorite meal was from the famous California-based restaurant In-N-Out Burger, so the Foundation paid for one of the restaurants mobile food trucks to cater the memorial. As a way to thank the Foundation for its support, the local Chief Petty Officers Association of Los Angeles/Long Beach raised $3,200 through a bake sale and cookout to replenish the fund.
Lt.j.g. Cameron was stationed in Puerto Rico at the time of the incident. Following the primary memorial service in Mobile, the Foundation provided funds for his family to travel to Puerto Rico, where a private memorial was held in Cameron's honor.
"The Foundation's kind efforts and assistance helped unit members, friends, and family strengthen relationships and bring some small measure of closure to losing a son, brother, and Shipmate. Thank you for your generous time, resources and assistance." – Commanding Officer of Air Station Borinquen
In times of need, the Coast Guard Foundation acts as a lifeline to active duty personnel. Through these services, the Foundation hopes to better the lives of those who serve in the Coast Guard every day.
We thank all the generous donor who make it possible for the Coast Guard Foundation to provide immediate support to the families of Coast Guard men and women who lose their lives in the line of duty. Thanks to your help, we show them the country cares.