Shipmates and loss:

I got this on my comments link and I have to share:

"Hey maddog,

this is my first time on your site DC3 bruckenthal was a DC A-school class mate of mine. he was a wonderful person and a great friend. his sudden death really caught me off guard. we havn't kept in touch since i guess we just figured that the guard is small enough we'll run into each other someday... I didnt have the privlege to go to his burrial I would have if the CG wasnt sending me to cuba for 6 months. can you give me more details of that day I would really appreiciate it. thank you


Well, here's what I wrote back:

"It was hot and sunny. I left the house in my bravos because It was the uniform to wear on a day like this. When I got to work, I even took the time to be sure I was in proper uniform (medals in order, Irish pennants, tape down the jacket for the 100th time). I paid more attention to my uniform than I have for any inspection or review.

We had buses to take us to Arlington and I was preoccupied with the "boot" 3rd class who was with me. He was, I thought, too jovial and excited to be out of the workplace on a workday. He ceased to exist when we arrived at the burial site. Over 400 USCG enlisted, officer, active duty and reservists were in attendance. Blue uniforms and white combo covers dominated the landscape of the small dale of his gravesite. Without direction and without a leader, we all "formed up." I got the feeling that formality was part of what we felt DC3 deserved. I "Dressed right" to a CWO4 and an IT3 did the same to me. We didn't care about precedence or who was more important. We all knew who was important.

Soon, a member of the honor guard told us that the family wished us to not be in formation. "Nathan would have been uncomfortable with all the ceremony." We fell out and gathered 'round.

When the casket came, We snapped to attention, and the whip of salutes were heard all along the line. Salutes came from members of the US Coast Guard, the US border Patrol and uniforms of police, firefighters and EMTs from his hometown. I've never met him but I knew right then that he is missed.

As many uniforms were in attendance, there were at least as many civilians. DC3 Bruckenthal was clearly loved and admired by many. 21 guns in 3 salvos of 7 were sounded for him. Taps was played and the sweating, suffering Honor Guard did their duty well by our shipmate. The flag from his casket went to Commandant Collins and then to DC3's Widow.

We fell out. Nobody laughed, nobody slapped backs. We were all aware of the loss of a shipate.

I had a conversation with an Army PFC two days before. His point was that the USCG didn't know loss because we had lost only one where the Army had lost many. I set him straight. We are so small and so close that we cannot afford to lose anyone. We all feel the loss of one. "

--MK2 maddog