Coast Guard honors fallen flight crew on 20th anniversary of helicopter crash

A ceremonial color guard team at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay presents colors before a memorial service held in remembrance of the crew and passengers of the CG-6549 helicopter that crashed 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission. Lt. Jeffrey F. Crane, 35, of Marshfield, Massachusetts; Lt. j.g. Charles W. Thigpen IV, 26, of Riverside, California; Aviation Machinist’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard L. Hughes, 33, from Black Canyon, Arizona; and Aviation Survivalman Petty Officer 3rd Class James G. Caines, 26, of Hinesville, Georgia, died in the line of duty. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.

A ceremonial color guard team at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay presents colors before a memorial service held in remembrance of the crew and passengers of the CG-6549 helicopter that crashed 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Alex Gray.

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — The crew of Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay held a memorial service in McKinleyville, Thursday, in remembrance of the crew of the rescue helicopter 6549 helicopter that crashed 20 years ago during a search-and-rescue mission.

The ceremony paid tribute to the two pilots and two crewmembers who lost their lives aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during an effort to save five mariners stranded on a Canadian sailing vessel during a storm.

Lt. Jeffrey F. Crane, 35, of Marshfield, Massachusetts; Lt. j.g. Charles W. Thigpen IV, 26, of Riverside, California; Aviation Machinist’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard L. Hughes, 33, from Black Canyon, Arizona; and Aviation Survivalman Petty Officer 3rd Class James G. Caines, 26, of Hinesville, Georgia, died in the line of duty.

“Flying helicopters is dangerous in any weather,” said Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, Coast Guard 11th District commander, during the ceremony. “Doing so in the extremes we regularly ask of our Coast Guard crews requires courage, skill and dedication to helping others, three traits embodied by all crew members on the 6549.”

Following the memorial, a Coast Guard helicopter crew laid a wreath at sea near the location of the crash.

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