Ketchikan honors the passing of a retired Coast Guard captain

A Ketchikan Honor Guard conducts a 21-gun salute Oct. 22 to celebrate the life and service of 91-year-old retired Capt. Henry Keene Jr. who passed away at his Ketchikan home Oct. 5. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Waltman

Ketchikan Coast Guard personnel and community members gathered together at the Ted Ferry Community Center Oct. 22 to celebrate the life and service of 91-year-old retired Capt. Henry Keene Jr. who passed away at his Ketchikan home Oct. 5.

A Coast Guard Honor Guard team from Washington D.C. honored Capt. Keene with a flag folding ceremony and presentation to his daughter.  A local Honor Guard made up of active duty Coast Guard personnel capped off the ceremony by presenting a full 21-gun salute outside the civic center.

While serving as the Coast Guard Base Ketchikan commander, Capt. Keene made an impression on the community when he mobilized Coast Guard personnel to move hospital patients from the older hospital building to the current location. It was his first step in a lifetime of dedication to the people of Southeast Alaska. In 1967, upon retirement from 26 years in the Coast Guard, Keene transitioned to a state judge position.

“It is our honor to remember the leadership and example of such a great man,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer James Taylor, Base Ketchikan command senior chief.  “From his service in the Coast Guard to his dedication to the community Capt. Keene embodied the Coast Guard’s core principles of honor, respect and devotion to duty in everything he did.”

Many residents of Ketchikan and the surrounding areas, including Sitka, braved rain and a hail storm to pay tribute to a man who was a frequent sight around the community. Ed Gunyah, member of the Raven Clan Tongass Tribe, summed up the overall theme of the celebration when he simple said, “He was a great guy.”

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