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NEWS | Feb. 17, 2016

Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton honors legacy

By Ens. Brittany Zirulnick, USCG USCG Hamilton (WMSL 753)

The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society and the Navy League of the United States-Charleston Council, held a commemoration ceremony onboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton on Jan. 29, 2016. The event, held while the cutter was moored at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, honored the former Treasury-class Cutter Alexander Hamilton (WPG 34), which was sunk by a German U-Boat during World War II.

Coast Guard Capt. Scott Clendenin, Hamilton's commanding officer, began the festivities by recounting the story of how the former cutter Alexander Hamilton was torpedoed off the coast of Iceland during WWII on that exact day to the hour, 74 years earlier. The attack resulted in the loss of 26 coast guardsmen.

The audience of approximately 200 included a mix of veterans, active duty military members, civilians, Citadel cadets, historians, the news media and the fifth great grandson of Alexander Hamilton, Doug Hamilton.

"Hamilton crewmembers today bear the responsibility of living up to the legacy of service and sacrifice for our nation demonstrated by legions of cuttermen before us; like the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton who we gather to honor once again today," Clendenin said.

Aron Arngrimsson, a dive team member from Iceland, visited the Alexander Hamilton several years ago at its resting place, 28 miles off the coast of Iceland and 311 feet below the surface. While there, Arngrimsson placed a plaque aboard the undersea monument.  During the ceremony, the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society presented an exact replica of the plaque to be prominently mounted in the new Hamilton. Arngrimsson attended the event representing the deep sea dive team and presented the ship with a glove that actually touched the ship as he mounted the plaque during his deep sea dive.

The last known Alexander Hamilton survivor, 96-year-old Larry Bradley, was linked with the crew and attendees via SKYPE from his home in California. "Watching two generations of cuttermen interact virtually so that Mr. Bradley could tell his WWII sea stories was inspiring," Clendenin shared after the event.

Also part of the ceremony, Captain Pat Keaveny (USN, ret), president of the Navy League of the United States-Charleston Council, presented Clendenin with an official Navy League certificate of adoption. The adoption formalized the Charleston Council's commitment to enhance the spirits and support the Hamilton's crew and their families.