Coast Guard posthumously presents two Purple Heart Medals

U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, Pacific Area commander, stands with Lisa Rehman and Bob Kelleher who accepted Purple Heart Medals during a ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California, Sept. 3, 2019. The Coast Guard posthumously presented Purple Heart Medals to the families of Arthur Deasy and Edward Kelleher who suffered fatal wounds in the sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa Sept. 26, 1918. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Masaschi

U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, Pacific Area commander, stands with Lisa Rehman and Bob Kelleher who accepted Purple Heart Medals during a ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California, Sept. 3, 2019.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Masaschi

ALAMEDA, California — Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander, posthumously presented Purple Heart Medals during a ceremony Tuesday on Coast Guard Base Alameda to the families of two Coast Guard members who perished in the sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa on Sept. 26, 1918.

The Purple Heart Medals were presented to the families of Edward Kelleher and Arthur Deasy, who lost their lives during the sinking of the Tampa, the single largest loss of life for the Coast Guard during World War I.

“These men are truly the best of us. Heroes willing to fight, and if necessary, die for the sake of freedom,” said Fagan. “This nation, and the values upon which it was founded, could not exist without men like Edward Kelleher and Arthur Deasy.”


From 1917 to 1918, the Tampa, one of six Coast Guard Cutters assigned to the Navy during World War I, escorted more than 350 merchant steamers safely between allied ports.

The cutter was on convoy duty in the European theater when it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the Bristol Channel, claiming the lives of all aboard including 111 Coast Guardsmen and four Navy sailors.

Kelleher, an Oiler 1st Class from Perry, Oklahoma, and Deasy, the acting quartermaster from Brooklyn, New York, were among the Coast Guardsmen serving aboard the Tampa.

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving with any of the five branches of the U.S. military. It is the nation’s oldest military award, created by General George Washington in 1782.

In 1999 retired Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer James Bunch submitted a proposal for the posthumous awarding of the Purple Heart medal to the Tampa crew, which was authorized by Commandant Adm. James Loy.

“While we gather here today to provide this long overdue recognition, I ask you to focus not only on their sacrifice, but also their service,” said Fagan. “Edward Kelleher and Arthur Deasy’s service is enduring, and their legacy lives on in our memories, their families, and the very existence of this great nation.”

More than 100 years after the sinking of the Tampa, the Coast Guard continues to identify families who have yet to receive their ancestor’s Purple Heart Medal. Visit the Coast Guard Historian’s Office for more information on the Tampa.


If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.