By Connor Beach
The U.S. Coast Guard honored yesterday a fallen serviceman with ties to the Northport community.
At a ceremony in Alexandra, Virginia, the Coast Guard officially named the newest of its Sentinel-class fast response cutter after Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, who was the first Coast Guardsman to be killed in action since the Vietnam War.
Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the son of Eric “Ric” Bruckenthal, who served 37 years in the Northport Village Police Department and 15 years as the department’s chief.
Nathan Bruckenthal, of Stony Brook, enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1999 and was later deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a damage controlman.
While serving aboard the USS Firebolt on April 24, 2004 near the Iraqi Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal in the North Arabian Gulf, Bruckenthal and six other coalition sailors attempted to board a small boat that was maneuvering towards the oil terminal.
According to Bruckenthal’s Bronze Star Medal citation, as the sailors attempted to board the boat the attacker on board the vessel triggered an explosion that killed Bruckenthal and two U.S. Navy sailors. Bruckenthal was 25 years old at the time of his death.
Bruckenthal’s actions prevented “massive casualties, irreversible environmental damage, and the destruction of the Iraqi peoples’ major economic lifelines,” according to the citation.
“I am truly honored to be the first commanding officer of this cutter, and the crew of the cutter Bruckenthal will emulate Nate’s high standards and values he lived by,” Lt. Brian Kilcoin, the new commander of the USCGC Nathan Bruckenthal, said at yesterday’s ceremony.
Bruckenthal’s older sister Noabeth Bruckenthal asked the large contingent of Coast Guardsmen, family and friends assembled at the ceremony to remember and love her brother.
“Nathan could light up a room, make you feel loved, make you laugh and if Nathan was your friend than you were, no are, his friend forever,” she said.
The 154-foot cutter will be based in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and its mission will include search and rescue, drug enforcement and homeland security.