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Press Release | Jan. 24, 2024

Media Availability: Coast Guard to hold 44th anniversary memorial for the crew of Cutter Blackthorn

Public Affairs Detachment Tampa Bay - 305-965-4672

Editor’s Note: Media interested in attending the ceremony are requested to RSVP no later than 3 p.m., Friday, by texting Coast Guard Public Affairs Tampa Bay at 305-607-6347

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard is holding a memorial service, Sunday, for Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn’s crew at the Blackthorn Memorial site in St. Petersburg.

WHO: Vice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander

                Rear Adm. Douglas M. Schofield, District Seven commander

                Capt. Michael P. Kahle, Sector St. Petersburg commander

                Capt. Scott S. Phy, Air Station Clearwater commander

WHAT: The 44th anniversary memorial service for the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn

WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Blackthorn Memorial Site, FL-55 St. Petersburg, Florida, 33752

Following the ceremony, retired Coast Guard Cmdr. Jim Sepel, Blackthorn’s commanding officer, is scheduled to share his story with interested media.

Sunday marks the 44th anniversary of the collision between the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the motor vessel Capricorn near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Jan. 28, 1980, resulting in the deaths of 23 Blackthorn crewmembers.

The ceremony includes a wreath-laying by Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, an honor platoon representing each lost soul, acknowledgment of each Blackthorn victim, gun salute, laying of roses, and presiding official comments.

Resources: The Long Blue Line: “No greater love”—Billy Flores, hero of the Cutter Blackthorn

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