Inglewood, California, US
United States Coast Guard
PS3, Maritime Safety and Security Team Anchorage
Puget Sound, US, 03/25/2007
The fast-response boats nicknamed “defenders,” which travel alongside Washington state ferries, have been among the most visible symbols of the Coast Guard’s security efforts since Sept. 11, 2001 — a day that changed the life of Ronald A. Gill Jr.
He was a product of a Rhode Island technical school working as a chef. But watching television replays of terrorist planes hitting the World Trade Center, Gill felt a calling to protect this country, his dad said.
The petty officer 3rd class was doing security patrols and training north of Vashon Island on Sunday when he fell off one of the 25-foot boats. He hit the propeller, suffering skull fractures, cerebral lacerations and cerebral contusions, the King County medical examiner said.
Minutes after the 2:15 p.m. accident, the Seattle Fire Department rushed him to Harborview Medical Center, where Gill was pronounced dead. He was 26.
“He was the most wonderful human being you would ever want to meet,” his dad, Ronald Gill Sr., said through tears Monday in Gill’s hometown of Cranston, R.I. “That was proved by the house full of people we had today.”
Born in Inglewood, Calif., Gill had compassionate brown eyes and cared for his loved ones as much as his country, his family said. When another 14- year-old shot his little brother Jonathan in the head with a pellet gun, Gill was at the hospital for hours, praying for his recovery.
“He was always there to protect me,” said Jonathan Gill, now 23. “I’ll never have another relationship with anybody like I had with him.”
A reservist on active duty, Gill was part of the Coast Guard maritime safety and security team based in Anchorage, Alaska. Pacific Area Cmdr. Charles Wurster said Gill genuinely enjoyed his mission in Seattle, which was scheduled to end the day he died.
Gill’s vessel was one of two such boats from the Coast Guard maritime safety and security team involved in the exercise. Officials still are investigating exactly what caused the fall.
Gill, who was a baseball, football and basketball standout as a teenager, is survived by his parents, Rosemary and Ronald Gill Sr., his brother and wife, Ambur Gill.
“He was honored to serve,” his dad said, “and we are very, very proud of him.”