Fallen Coast Guardsmen remembered during memorial service at Cape Disappointment

he Coast Guard 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph II, laid a wreath during held a memorial service today honoring five crew members who lost their lives aboard the 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph I, 47 years ago near Ilwaco, Wash.

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph II, laid a wreath during held a memorial service today honoring five crew members who lost their lives aboard the 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph I, 47 years ago near Ilwaco, Wash. Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Third Class David Marin

The Triumph I was stationed at the Point Adams Lifeboat Station, Ore., during its service life. The Triumph I was lost while on a search and rescue case on January 12, 1961.

On that date, two Coast Guard vessels from the Cape Disappointment Lifeboat Station, Wash., CG-40564 and CG-36454, answered a call for assistance from the 38-foot crab boat Mermaid, with two crew members on board, which had lost its rudder near the breakers off Peacock Spit, Wash. CG-40564 located the Mermaid and took it in tow.

Due to adverse sea conditions the crew of CG-40564 requested the assistance of CG-52301 Triumph, stationed at Point Adams Lifeboat Station, Ore., which took up the tow upon its arrival on scene. Heavy breakers capsized CG-40564 and battered the CG-36454 but the 36-foot motor lifeboat stayed afloat.

The crew of CG-36454 then located and rescued the crew of the 40564 and made for the Coast Guard Columbia River Lightship. The crew of the CG-36454 managed to deposit safely all on board the lightship before it too foundered. Soon thereafter a heavy breaker hit the Triumph which parted the tow line, set the Mermaid adrift, and capsized the Triumph.

The crew of the Mermaid then rescued one of the six crewman on board Triumph. CG-36554 and CG-36535, also from the Point Adams Lifeboat Station, then arrived on scene and the CG-36535 took the Mermaid in tow. Another large breaker hit, snapping the CG-36535’s tow line and sinking the Mermaid.

The Coast Guard cutter Yocona arrived on scene soon after Coast Guard aircraft from Air Station Port Angeles and began searching for survivors. Other Coast Guard aircraft arrived and began dropping flares. Foot patrols from the lifeboat stations searched the beaches as well and recovered one Coast Guard survivor. Ultimately five Coast Guard crewman, all from motor lifeboat CG-52301 Triumph, drowned, as did both of the Mermaid’s crew.

The Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives in the line of duty that night were:

  • Petty Officer First Class John L. Culp
  • Petty Officer Second Class John S. Hoban
  • Seaman Ralph E. Mace
  • Petty Officer Third Class Joseph E. Petrin
  • Seaman Gordon, F. Sussex

Petty Officer Culp was awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal. Petty Officer Hoban, Seaman Mace, Petty Officer Petrin, and Seaman Sussex were awarded Silver Lifesaving Medals.

A Coast Guard Honor Guard renders a 21-gun salute at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in Ilwaco, Wash., during a memorial service honoring five crew members who lost their lives aboard the 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph I, 47 years ago near Ilwaco.

A Coast Guard Honor Guard renders a 21-gun salute at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in Ilwaco, Wash., during a memorial service honoring five crew members who lost their lives aboard the 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph I, 47 years ago near Ilwaco.

Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeff Pollinger

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