Bruckenthal family visits Nate’s Open Door

5th Coast Guard District News
By Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Tasha Tully

BALTIMORE – Nathan B. “Nate” Bruckenthal, a Damage Controlman Third Class, was killed April 24, 2004, while serving a second deployment in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nate was killed along with Navy Petty Officer First Class Michael Pernaselli, of Monroe, N.Y., and Petty Officer Second Class Christopher Watts, of Knoxville, Tenn., when the group intercepted a waterborne suicide attack on the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal off the coast of Iraq. Nate was the first Coast Guardsman to be killed during wartime since the Vietnam War.

“Nate’s Open Door was started in Baltimore in 2004 by (Coast Guard) Chief Teresa Padilla, Chaplain Michael Tomlinson, and me,” said co-founder Ramona Vazquez. “I knew Nate when we worked together in Miami. Since then I have become very close with his family and I learned what an incredible humanitarian he was.”

Nate’s wife, Pattie, was pregnant with their daughter, Harper, at the time Nate was killed. Pattie’s sudden loss and unforeseen hardship inspired Vazquez to continue assisting struggling families.

Bruckenthal family visits Nate's Open Door

Noabeth Bruckenthal, Nate Bruckenthal’s sister, and Laurie Freiman, Nate Bruckenthal’s mother, visit Nate’s Open Door after participating in the Fifth Annual Nathan Bruckenthal Memorial Run at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, April 27, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tasha Tully

“I am a Coast Guard wife and we are a Coast Guard family, and I understand needing help from time to time and having no family nearby,” confessed Vazquez. “Nate’s Open Door just helps take the edge off the financial struggle for those who need it.”

With support from the command at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Nate’s Open Door opened in 2005 and is located near the Coast Guard Exchange at the Coast Guard Yard and is run by the Greater Baltimore Area Coast Guard Spouse Association.

“Everything is offered to families for free, no strings attached. Another thing is that the doors are always open, we never lock them,” said Vazquez. “Nate’s father, Ric, once said ‘When one door closes, another door opens.’ He was referring to his son’s death, and the birth of his new granddaughter, but we feel that it may be true for the pantry too. It can be difficult for some families to accept help and we keep the doors open so that people can maintain anonymity if they want to.”

The pantry offers baby clothes from zero months to 6T, along with furniture, diapers, wipes and other donated items.

“It is also an exchange,” added Vazquez. “When you’re done using the clothes, and if they are still in good condition, you can exchange them for the next size up.”

Donations to Nate’s Open Door are always needed and always welcome. For more information on how you can contribute, click here.

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