Coast Guard Academy Remembers CAPT Thomas D. Nelson at Goal Flag Ceremony

NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse Team will conduct its traditional goal flag remembrance ceremony at Cadet Memorial Field prior to the first home game against Bridgewater State University on Friday, 16 March at 7:00 PM. The ceremony is open to the public and serves to formally recognize the ultimate sacrifices made by Coast Guard Academy graduates. The ceremony will occur before the game and two commemorative flags will be attached to the goals. They will be displayed at every home game throughout the season.

The navy blue flag with 61 white stars commemorates CAPT Thomas D. Nelson as the 61st name on the WALL OF REMEMBRANCE which honors Academy graduates who have perished while carrying out operational missions. In September 2008, Coast Guard lacrosse player CAPT Thomas D. Nelson, Class of 1988, was added as the 61st name on that list after he perished aboard Coast Guard helicopter 6505 off the coast of Hawaii. Teammate and classmate CAPT Nick Bartolotta remembers CAPT Nelson as a, “dominant defender who loved to clear the crease.”

The white flag has the initials JMS and the Class of 1983 crest to commemorate LT John M. Senyard ’83 for his contributions to the Coast Guard Lacrosse program. John Senyard was one of the key figures in the founding of the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse team. A member of the Coast Guard Academy Class of 1983, John was a Baltimore kid that grew up with an intense love for the game of lacrosse. As a cadet, John was often seen roaming the decks of Bravo Company in Chase Hall (the cadet barracks) with a lacrosse stick in hand. He attempted on several occasions to start a Men’s Lacrosse team.

His persistence and example to junior cadets sparked the launch of the Men’s Lacrosse team during the spring following his graduation. One of those junior cadets, Charlie Turner, CGA ‘86, remarked “I’m convinced that the Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse program would never have come to fruition without John Senyard. We underclassmen were emboldened by a small, but loyal group of seniors who kept playing lacrosse because of John.” Unfortunately, LT Senyard was not able to witness the Men’s Lacrosse team grow into the highly competitive team that exists today. He was killed in an aircraft accident while conducting a humanitarian service project in Ilhithi, Kenya in 1989.

“By carrying out this event every year, we honor the dedication and sacrifice of those who came before us,” LCDR Brian Krautler, Head Lacrosse Coach. “It also reminds us of just how dangerous and unforgiving the Coast Guard’s operating environment can be and serves as a stark reminder of the dangers our young men and women face when responding to mariners in distress and while conducting training in heavy weather. Our Coast Guard crews constantly train and hone their skills to perform challenging maritime missions. And, because they routinely perform them so well, it is easy to forget their complexity and danger.”

The ceremony will also include a brief moment of silence to honor the recent sacrifice of the crew of MH-65C helicopter 6535 lost on a training flight over Mobile Bay on the evening of 28 February 2012. The lost crew included aircraft commander – Lt. Cmdr. Dale Taylor, pilot – Lt. j.g. Thomas Cameron, Flight Mechanic – Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight and Rescue Swimmer – Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge. Cameron, of Portland, Ore., was a 2009 Coast Guard Academy graduate and a former captain of the Academy soccer team.
“It’s also important for us to remember that our players will be performing these challenging missions in just a few short months. In May, the first-class cadets that will be on the field tonight will be stepping forward to serve and go into harm’s way. This ceremony reminds them of their link to the operational service.”

Media are welcomed and encouraged to attend the ceremony. For further information, please contact CWO Kim Smith, Coast Guard Academy Public Affairs, at 860-444-8272.

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