Monday, January 25, 2016

Coast Guard Sector Long Island honors the late Robert Connors

In case you missed this news about a very respectful event:
NEW HAVEN - Members of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound gathered this week to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the collision of Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind with the motor tanker Gulfstream, according to a release.
"In the early morning hours of January 19, 1949, 13 Coast Guardsmen died after the icebreaker East­wind collided with the tanker in the frigid waters of New Jersey," the release said. "Among the deceased was New Haven native, Engineman 3rd Class Robert Emmett Connors. Connors, who was 19 years old, died while valiantly trying to save a friend."

Records of the incident indicate that Connors himself was safe at one point but went back into the billowing smoke and twisted steel of the cutter’s midsection, the release said. Testimony reports that his body was recovered 15 feet from his friend, the release said.

Connors, a 1947 graduate of East Haven High School, "received no medal or citation" until the dedication of the Connors Maintenance Building at Sector Long Island Sound on Sept. 15, 1972, the release said. "The building today serves as the maintenance center for Coast Guard Station New Haven and Aids to Navigation Team Long Island Sound where a plaque is posted in his honor."

Capt. Ed Cubanski, sector commander, and Chief Petty Officer Kevin Wyman, officer in charge of Station New Haven, gathered at the plaque to celebrate Connors’ life and contribution.

Angela McKeon, Connors’ "high school sweetheart, was also present and commemorates his death annually," the release said. She presented a bouquet of flowers to Wyman, whose boat crews then "set them adrift along Connors’ home shores of New Haven in memory of his life and death."

"The sacrifice and gallantry of our forebears is forward in the public’s mind right now, with the release of the movie ‘The Finest Hours,’" Cubanski said, also in the release. "There are so many brave men and women in Coast Guard history who deserve equal remembrance. We are honored to celebrate the bravery of Bob Connors and to work daily in a building" that bears the name "of a Coast Guard hero. ... His legacy of self-sacrifice for the lives of others will always be remembered."

Connors attended the Coast Guard’s Engineman School in Groton, then was assigned to the Eastwind, the release said..

Editor's note: All information and the photo in this post were contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

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