RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Members of the Coast Guard held a ceremony to honor and celebrate the life of a former Ridgefield High student who was killed 13 years ago in a military attack off the coast of Iraq.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan "Nate" Bruckenthal, a former Ridgefield resident, was killed April 24, 2004. He was 24.
The ceremony was held Friday at Station Eatons Neck on Long Island in Northport, N.Y.
Bruckenthal was the first U.S. Coast Guard member killed in military action since the Vietnam War.
At the ceremony, the Bruckenthal family was joined by the police and fire departments of Northport, as well as members of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, and other Coast Guard units to pay tribute to the fallen hero.
Bruckenthal was killed with two U.S. Navy sailors while intercepting a waterborne suicide attack on an offshore oil terminal off the coast of Iraq in the northern Persian Gulf.
Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi of al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device and the Purple Heart for his actions.
Bruckenthal and his family lived in Ridgefield from 1992 to 1995. He was also a volunteer firefighter in town from 1997 to 1998 after graduating from high school in Virginia.
He joined the Coast Guard in January 1999 and intended to go to college and become a policeman or a fireman after his service.
Bruckenthal's first tour to the Persian Gulf region was from April to June 2003. He departed for his second deployment in February 2004 and was due to return that June. During both tours, his detachment was assigned to the USS Firebolt.
He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.