Sector Sault Ste. Marie to receive Purple Heart for long-lost WWI sailor

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — On the 104th anniversary of the torpedoing of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, Sector Sault Ste. Marie will receive a Purple Heart on behalf of the family of one of the ship’s crewmen, local Coast Guard sailor Alfonso J. Busho.

Personnel from the sector will gather to mark the event at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26 in the sector dining facility.

A Sault Ste. Marie native, Busho, along with 110 other Coast Guard sailors, was lost during the sinking of the Tampa. One of the Coast Guard’s most storied cutters, the Tampa had been assigned to escort ships vital to the war effort in the northern Atlantic. On the evening of Sept. 26, 1918, while enroute to Wales in the United Kingdom for resupply, the cutter was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-91. In total, 111 Coast Guard sailors, four Navy sailors, and 16 passengers aboard the vessel perished and were never recovered.

The crew were honored with the Purple Heart medal in 1999 after a petition was made to then- Coast Guard Commandant James Loy. Since then, Coast Guard researchers and historians have been working diligently to find remaining families of the Tampa’s lost Coast Guard sailors for award of the medal. Despite extensive search efforts, approximately 40 medals remain unclaimed.

In an effort to honor the memory of Seaman Busho and owing to difficulties finding extant family during the multi-year search, a local team from Sector Sault Ste. Marie will receive and place on display Busho’s Purple Heart on behalf of his family. Because honoring local Coast Guard heroes remains a high priority at Sector Sault Ste. Marie, the command will also be dedicating and naming its dining facility in memory of Busho in order to preserve his legacy for local Coast Guard members.

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