Coast Guard to present posthumous Purple Heart Medals

TAMPA, Fla. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to posthumously present two World War I Purple Heart Medals Thursday, at 9 a.m., during a ceremony at the Tampa History Center.

Coast Guard Capt. Michael Kahle, commander of Sector St. Petersburg, will present the medals to the families of Angus Nelson MacLean and James Frost who lost their lives during the sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa.

MacLean was a fireman and a Tampa, Florida native. Frost was a 1st Lieutenant from Texas whose nephew later served in the Coast Guard during World War II.

The sinking of the Tampa was the single largest loss of life for the Coast Guard during World War I. From 1917 to 1918, the Tampa was one of six Coast Guard Cutters assigned to the Navy and 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.

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.

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.

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