A memorial ceremony will be held Saturday for a U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer who was killed when the search boat he was aboard was rammed by a panga-type smuggling boat near the Channel Islands.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach was pronounced dead early Sunday morning at Port Hueneme, where he and another officer were taken after the vessel they were aboard was rammed.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is scheduled attend the 1 p.m. memorial ceremony at Reservation Point, 1001 S. Seaside Ave., on Terminal Island in San Pedro. It will be closed to the public.
On Tuesday, two Mexican nationals—Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran- Higuera—made initial appearances in federal court in downtown Los Angeles and were ordered to remain jailed without bail pending arraignment Dec. 21. They are charged with killing an officer of the United States engaged in his official duties.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Horne was struck in the head by a boat propeller. The other guardsman—identified as Brandon Langdon in the criminal complaint—suffered a non-life-threatening knee laceration, prosecutors said.
Horne, a 14-year Coast Guard veteran, is survived by a young son and pregnant wife.
He and the other injured Coast Guard member were assigned to the USCG Cutter Halibut, based in Marina del Rey.
"I had the privilege of serving with him for a year and a half," USCG Lt. Stewart Sibert, commander of the Halibut. Horne "was one of the strongest individuals I have ever known."
"I was blessed to have Terrell as my second-in-command. Words can't express the admiration that I have for him. He was my friend. He was my confidante. He was the glue that held my crew together," Sibert said.
Napolitano, in a statement issued earlier this week, said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of Horne's death.
"This tragedy reminds us of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day, and the great risks they willingly take, as they protect our nation," she said.
Adam Eggers of the Coast Guard said the boat that struck the Coast Guard vessel was a "Mexican-style panga" traveling at a "high rate of speed." Customs and Border Patrol and Coast Guard ships were able to chase the panga after the apparent ramming and arrested the two suspects.
USCG Petty Officer Seth Johnson said the Halibut was tracking a smuggling boat off Santa Cruz Island, one of a cluster of three Channel Islands sitting off the Ventura County coast, about 30 miles west of Malibu around 1 a.m. Sunday.
A Coast Guard patrol plane had spotted the panga and another boat as it headed toward the Channel Islands without lights. The Halibut was sent to Santa Cruz Island, and two people from one boat had been arrested.
The Halibut lowered a small, inflatable chase boat into the water, and the small federal craft activated its blue lights and siren. At that point, the panga's captain changed direction and drove into the small boat, apparently deliberately, Johnson said.
According to federal prosecutors, a Coast Guard officer on the boat fired several shots at the panga boat while another USCG member tried to steer to federal vessel out of the panga's path.
Horne and the other Coast Guard member were thrown into the water and were immediately picked up by another federal boat. Horne suffered head injuries and was taken roughly 15 to 20 miles to the nearest dock, at Port Hueneme.
In lieu of flowers, the Coast Guard Foundation urged people to contribute to a Fallen Heroes Scholarship fund for Horne's children. Information is available by calling the foundation at 860-535-0786; or via the website.
Donors should select "Fallen Heroes Scholarship" from the "where it is needed most" box, and type "Chief Terrell Horne III" in the "in memory of" box.
Also, checks can be made payable to "Coast Guard Foundation," with "In memory of Chief Terrell Horne III" in the memo line, and sent to:
Coast Guard Foundation
394 Taugwonk Road
Stonington, CT 06378
Until 9 p.m., a fundraiser is being conducted in Redondo Beach at Malibu Fish Grill, located 725 N. Pacific Coast Highway, for Horne's family.