SUFFOLK, NY, USA
U.S. Coast Guard
DC3, LEDET 403
ARABIAN SEA 04/25/2004
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal always went in for the active approach. In high school he was a volunteer firefighter and spoke of either making that his profession or becoming a police officer.
“He would come to almost all the (fire) calls that he could,” said Michael Gabbianelli, a friend and fellow volunteer firefighter. “He was always there to help people.”
Bruckenthal, 24, of Smithtown, N.Y., died April 24 when suicide bombers in boats attacked pumping stations in the Persian Gulf. He was based at the Coast Guard Air Station in the Miami suburb of Opa-Locka, Fla.
The Ridgefield, Conn., native was the first member of the Coast Guard to die in battle since Vietnam.
Bruckenthal played football in high school and was involved with a club that helped students who were new to the school adjust. Bruckenthal was a month away from finishing his second stint in Iraq returning home to his wife, pregnant with their first child.
Bruckenthal was born in Stony Brook, New York. He is the son of Ric Bruckenthal of Northport, New York, and Laurie Bullock of Ashburn, Virginia.
While growing up he had also lived in Hawaii, Virginia, and Connecticut. Bruckenthal and his family lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 1992 to 1995, where he was a volunteer firefighter from 1997 to 1998.
In 2001 he met his future wife, Pattie, while serving at Station Neah Bay. Patti was a university student studying the Makah Indian tribe when Bruckenthal gave the students a tour of the Station.
Bruckenthal joined the Coast Guard on January 5, 1999. He served on the Coast Guard Cutter Point Wells, based out of Montauk, New York, prior to attending Damage Controlman “A” School. After school he was assigned to Station Neah Bay in the northwest corner of Washington on the Makah Indian Reservation.
His next assignment was to Tactical Law Enforcement (TACLET) Team South, at Coast Guard Air Station Miami. Bruckenthal’s first tour to the Persian Gulf region was from April to June, 2003. He departed home for his second deployment in February 2004 and was due to return that June. During both tours his detachment, LEDET 403, was assigned to the USS Firebolt.
In the early evening hours of April 24, a dhow (a lateen-rigged Arabian vessel) approached an oil terminal in the Persian Gulf. Bruckenthal, trained as both a boarding team member and boarding officer, was accompanied by one other Coast Guardsman and five sailors from the United States Navy. The group boarded a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), taking off in pursuit.
As the crew was poised to board the dhow, an explosion was detonated. Two Navy petty officers also died as a result of the waterborne attack: PO1 Michael J. Pernaselli, 27, of Monroe, N.Y., and PO2 Christopher E. Watts, 28, of Knoxville, Tenn. Injured were three Navy sailors and BM3 Joseph T. Ruggiero, USCG, 23, from Revere, Mass., who received the Purple Heart.
Petty Officer Bruckenthal is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Survivors also include his parents and sister.