Nathan Bruckenthal

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Nathan B. Bruckenthal
Nathan Bruckenthal.png
Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal, USCG
Born (1979-07-17)July 17, 1979
Stony Brook, New York
Died April 24, 2004(2004-04-24) (aged 24)
Near Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal, Northern Persian Gulf
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Coast Guard seal United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1999–2004
Rank Petty Officer Third Class

TACLET South, LEDET 403,

assigned to the USS Firebolt
Battles/wars Operation Iraqi Freedom
Awards Bronze Star with Valor
Purple Heart

Nathan B. "Nate" Bruckenthal (July 17, 1979 – April 24, 2004) was a Damage Controlman Third Class in the United States Coast Guard. He was the first Coast Guardsman to die in wartime action since the Vietnam War. Bruckenthal and two U.S. Navy sailors were killed while intercepting a waterborne suicide attack on an offshore oil terminal off the coast of Iraq in the northern Persian Gulf in 2004.

Bruckenthal was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart for his actions.[1]


Bruckenthal was born in Stony Brook, New York. He is the son of Ric Bruckenthal of Northport, New York, and Laurie Bullock of Ashburn, Virginia.[2]

While growing up he had also lived in Hawaii, Virginia, and Connecticut. Bruckenthal and his family lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut from 1992 to 1995, where he was a volunteer firefighter from 1997 to 1998.[2]

In 2001 he met his future wife, Pattie, while serving at Coast Guard Station Neah Bay. Pattie was a university student studying the Makah Indian tribe when Bruckenthal gave the students a tour of the station.[3]

Bruckenthal intended to continue his public service by becoming a police officer or firefighter after completing his Coast Guard service and finishing college.[4] He is survived by his wife, Pattie, and his daughter, Harper Natalie Bruckenthal, born after his death.[3]

Petty Officer Bruckenthal is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[3]

Coast Guard service[edit]

Bruckenthal joined the Coast Guard on January 5, 1999.[3] He served on USCGC Point Wells, based out of Montauk, New York, prior to attending Damage Controlman "A" School.[4] After school he was assigned to Station Neah Bay in the northwest corner of Washington on the Makah Indian Reservation.[2]

His next assignment was to Tactical Law Enforcement (TACLET) Team South, at Coast Guard Air Station Miami. Bruckenthal's first tour to the Persian Gulf region was from April to June, 2003. He departed home for his second deployment in February 2004 and was due to return that June. During both tours his detachment, LEDET 403, was assigned to the USS Firebolt.[4]

Attack in the Persian Gulf[edit]

A photo of Petty Officers Bruckenthal and Ruggiero

In 2004, Bruckenthal and two U.S. Navy sailors were killed while intercepting a waterborne suicide attack on the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal off the coast of Iraq in the northern Persian Gulf. An account of the attack is included in an issue of the Coast Guard Reserve magazine.[5]

In the early evening hours of April 24, a dhow (a lateen-rigged Arabian vessel) approached an oil terminal in the Persian Gulf. Bruckenthal, trained as both a boarding team member and boarding officer, was accompanied by one other Coast Guardsman and five sailors from the United States Navy. The group boarded a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), taking off in pursuit.

As the crew was poised to board the dhow, an explosion was detonated. Two Navy petty officers also died as a result of the waterborne attack: PO1 Michael J. Pernaselli, 27, of Monroe, N.Y., and PO2 Christopher E. Watts, 28, of Knoxville, Tenn. Injured were three Navy sailors and BM3 Joseph T. Ruggiero, USCG, 23, from Revere, Mass., who received the Purple Heart.

Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi of Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.[6]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Bruckenthal was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. On his first Persian Gulf deployment he was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.[3]

Bronze Star with Valor device
Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Petty Officer Bruckenthal is the first Coast Guardsman to be killed in action in military conflict since the Vietnam War.[3] Bruckenthal's death is noted in an article listing Jewish U.S. service members killed in Iraq.[7]


The Unaccompanied Personnel Housing building at Coast Guard Station Montauk is named in honor of DC3 Nathan Bruckenthal.[3] He served as a fireman on the USCGC Point Wells, which was homeported in Montauk, New York.[4]


  1. ^ "Coast Guardsman killed in Iraq buried at Arlington". Pier Systems. 
  2. ^ a b c O'Donnell, Michelle (May 8, 2004). "Long Island Native, Killed in Iraq, Is Buried in Arlington". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Nathan Bruckenthal at
  4. ^ a b c d PAC Peter Capelotti, USCGR (April 25, 2003). "Operation Iraqi Freedom Documentation Project / U.S. Coast Guard Oral History Program". U.S. Coast Guard. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  5. ^ Coast Guard Reserve Magazine, Volume 51, Issue 5
  6. ^ "Jordanian claims suicide attacks on Iraqi terminal". April 26, 2004. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  7. ^ Bloom, Nate (2004-06-04). "More Tears by the Rivers of Babylon". Jewish World Review. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]