Air Station Sacramento holds remembrance ceremony for fallen Coast Guard, Marine Corps aircrews

MCCLELLAN, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento held a remembrance ceremony this morning, honoring the Coast Guard and Marine Corps crews who were lost in a mid-air collision one year ago.

Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, presided over the event, which highlighted a memorial being built at the air station in honor of the fallen Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircrews.

During the ceremony, representatives and family members placed beige bricks on a cedar display, each bearing the name of a service member lost in the mid-air collision on Oct. 29, 2009. The display will serve as a temporary holding place until the permanent memorial, a bronze replica sculpture of the Rescue 1705 flying through the air, is finished. Coast Guard members, family, friends and supporters have established this memorial as an inspirational symbol of the dedication and sacrifice of the crew of Rescue 1705.

“We are no less sad today, than we were that day, but we are stronger,” said Castillo. “Stronger because we celebrate their lives more than mourn their deaths.”

Elsewhere, tributes to the lost aviators were held at other Coast Guard units throughout the nation today. In San Diego, where search and rescue efforts were based following the tragedy, an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter flew to the crash site and dropped one red rose for each of the nine aviators who lost their lives. At the same time, members of Sector San Diego assembled in formation near the station’s bell, facing the ocean, and listened as Lt. Sean Groark publicly narrated the on-scene helicoper’s operations. Seaman Jabob Impastato rang the bell after each name was called and a rose was dropped into the water over their eternal resting site.

While conducting a search and rescue mission, Coast Guard Rescue 1705, an HC-130 Hercules aircraft, collided with a U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter Oct. 29, 2009, near San Clemente Island, Calif. That night, the Coast Guard lost Lt. Cmdr. Che Barnes, Lt. Adam Bryant, Chief Petty Officer John Seidman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Grigonis, Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica Beacham, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Moletzsky, Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny Kreder. The Marine Corps lost Maj. Samuel Leigh and 1st Lt. Thomas Claiborne.

Photos from the ceremonies can be viewed at the CoastGuardNews Facebook site.

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