Unalaska, CGC Munro honors lost shipmates on Coast Guard Day

Twenty-two years after Capt. Jeffery Hartman lays a wreath on the grave of Revenue Cutterman C.D Moulthrope of the Revenue Cutter Perry, who perished in 1896, Capt. M. A.Cawthorn lays a new wreath in continued reverence for all cuttermen who have given their lives at sea. Chief Warrant Officer Clifford Mooneyham, far left, was instrumental in planning the event, and has more plans yet. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Seaman Joshua Richie.

Twenty-two years after Capt. Jeffery Hartman lays a wreath on the grave of Revenue Cutterman C.D Moulthrope of the Revenue Cutter Perry, who perished in 1896, Capt. M. A.Cawthorn lays a new wreath in continued reverence for all cuttermen who have given their lives at sea. Chief Warrant Officer Clifford Mooneyham, far left, was instrumental in planning the event, and has more plans yet. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Seaman Joshua Richie.

By Ensign Jacob C. Hauser

On the Coast Guard’s 222nd birthday, crewmembers from the Coast guard Cutter Munro worked through a mid-patrol break to honor the memory of former Revenue Cutter sailors. For over a century, sailors conducting a Bering Sea Patrol would make port calls in Dutch Harbor. While there, they tended the gravesites of six Revenue Cutter sailors, buried on a humble Aleutian hillside. Most grave markers attribute the interred to the Cutter Bear, which was legendary throughout the Bering Sea. In addition to its daring Alaska Overland Expedition during the winter of 1897, the Bear saved the lives of thousands of fishermen, merchants, and Aleuts. The crew was also famous for seeding the region with Russian caribou, still a subsistence meat for many in the region today.

In more recent years, the gravesites have been forgotten and fallen into disrepair. The crew of the cutter Munro, the Coast Guard’s modern day Bering Sea cutter, took it upon themselves to ensure these men would be remembered. During a recent port call in Dutch, in an effort spearheaded by Chief Warrant Officer Mooneyham the crew surveyed the sites, repaired and erected fences, cut weeds, and gathered information on those buried in the graveyard. While inport in Kodiak, the crew fabricated new grave markers out of oak wood. On their return trip to Dutch Harbor, the crew installed the new grave markers, and then held a Coast Guard Day ceremony to offer prayers and to remember their forefathers.

Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. M. A. Cawthorn stated, “The similarities between the crews of the Bering Sea cutters over a hundred years ago and the crew of those on patrol today are remarkable. Both crews spend their time in Dutch Harbor conducting voyage repairs, complaining about the weather, taking on fuel and stores, hiking, fishing, hunting – as well as taking the time to remember those buried in this cemetery.”

Future plans by Munro include installing permanent stone markers on seven graves, and working with the State Library and State Historical Society of Alaska, as well as the Coast Guard Historian’s Office in order to obtain any available information on those sailors buried there.

Crewmembers from CGC MUNRO stand by their work. Illiuluk Bay and Mount Ballyhoo are visible in the background. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Joshua Ritchie.

Crewmembers from CGC MUNRO stand by their work. Illiuluk Bay and Mount Ballyhoo are visible in the background. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Joshua Ritchie.

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