Coast Guard Cutter Tampa honors WWI sailor’s family during ceremony in Fla.

5th Coast Guard District NewsPORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard presented a Purple Heart Medal to the family of a World War I Coast Guardsman who was lost in battle 94 years ago, at a ceremony in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 6.

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa and the Coast Guard 7th District presented Diane Roberts Vess with the Purple Heart honoring her great-uncle, Charles Henry Klingelhoefer, who was aboard the first-commissioned Tampa when it was lost at sea.

“In military service, a purple heart is a combat decoration signifying the courage of those wounded in war and those who give the ultimate sacrifice,” said Capt. Richard Kenin, the chief of staff for the 7th District.

Klingelhoefer was a chief warrant officer serving as a carpenter’s mate aboard the Tampa when it was lost with its crew, Sept. 26, 1918.

“I think it’s an honor that at least his efforts didn’t go unnoticed,” said Vess, a great-grandniece of Klingelhoefer. “It’s nice to have something so special in our family.”

The first-commissioned Tampa was launched in Newport News, Va., close to where the current Tampa is homeported in Portsmouth, Va.

“It was important to honor our ship’s heritage and be present when a brother-in-arms finally received recognition for his personal sacrifice,” said Cmdr. Susan Polizzotto, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa. “Chief Warrant Officer Klingelhoefer was a shipmate, killed in the line of duty many years ago. Lost at sea, but always remembered by his family and the Tampa.”

The Tampa returned to Portsmouth following a 23-day patrol in the Caribbean, Sunday.

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