Coast Guard holds remembrance ceremonies to honor surfmen who died offshore Atlantic City

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, N.J., hold a wreath-laying ceremony Monday, March 9, 2015, at Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville, N.J. The ceremony paid tribute to the five Coast Guardsmen who lost their lives while attempting to rescue others in distress March 6, 1932. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef)

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, N.J., held a MEMORIAL ceremony Monday, March 9, 2015, at Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville, N.J. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Coast Guard held an at-sea wreath laying ceremony Friday and a service at Atlantic City Cemetery, in Pleasantville, Monday to honor five Coast Guard Station Atlantic City motor lifeboat surfmen who died during a search and rescue mission March 6, 1932.

During the wreath laying ceremony, crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City gave a benediction and placed a wreath in the water offshore Atlantic City to honor the lives of the surfmen lost near the same location 83 years prior.

At the cemetery, a service was held and taps was played at the gravesite of Surfman William R. Garton, one of the men who lost his life during the rescue mission.

“Despite the tragic loss of these five heroic service members, their tremendous example of courage, dedication and devotion to duty will forever hold its place amongst those service men and women who have given their lives so that others may live,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Lacy, a crewmember from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City.

On that day, southern New Jersey was feeling the affect of a nor’easter, which brought 60-knot winds, heavy seas and rain mixed with snow. The crew of Station Atlantic City received a distress call that the fishing vessel Anna, underway in a nearby fishing area, was lost.

Lt. Jim Turner, the commanding officer of the station, took two of his surfmen and launched a 30-foot wooden boat to respond. While still on their way to the fishing area, the response boat capsized. Employees at the Steel Pier, a nearby amusement area, saw the men in the water and reported the accident to the station. Turner made it ashore and was hospitalized for days before he recovered.

Going to the aid of their shipmates, three more surfmen launched a 28-foot power surfboat. After entering the 18-foot seas, the surfboat and its crew were never seen or heard from again. The bodies of Surfman William R. Garton, 19, and Livingston, 24, were the only ones recovered.



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