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Coast Guard holds ceremony to honor crew members killed in 1973 plane crash

Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 14:29:46-04

A ceremony was held at Sherrill Park this morning to mark the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in our local Coast Guard's history.

Tomorrow is the 46th anniversary of a U.S. Coast Guard airplane crash that killed six of the crew members.

In 1973, the HU-16 Albatross was responding to a search and rescue call for some stranded boaters off of Port Aransas.

A flare set off by one of the crew members started a fire inside the plane. The smoke overwhelmed the crew members, causing them to lose control of the plane. It crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, killing the entire crew.

After today's ceremony, we spoke to retired Master Chief Don Walter who knew crew member, Harold Brown. Walter, who served with the U.S. Coast Guard from 1969 to 1987, said he and Brown served in Port Angeles. Then, Brown was sent to Corpus Christi and he was sent to Mobile, Alabama.

Walter said he remembers finding out about the crash and immediately calling his brother who was stationed with the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi. He said he thanked God when he found out his brother was not on the plane but he was devastated to find out his friend was killed.

The retired U.S. Coast Guard member said this morning's memorial was very important to him.

"This means a lot to me. That the Coast Guard remembers because we just. We out did our job. That was it. When they called, we went. That was it," Walter said.

Meanwhile, the local Coast Guard said they plan to continue this annual memorial service to respect the families of those who died and honor their service.