Several U.S. Coast Guard officers on Monday expressed condolences and shared stories over their fellow comrade who died on Sunday while pursuing a suspected drug-smuggling boat.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, was killed when a panga boat suspected of smuggling drugs rammed the Marina del Rey-based Halibut vessel off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands, west of Malibu.
Two men have been charged, Redondo Beach Patch reported.
Horned suffered a head injury when the panga boat’s impact forced him and a fellow Coast Guard member overboard. He was rushed to Port Hueneme and later pronounced dead.
“Words cannot express the respect and admiration I have for him,” said Lt. Steward Sibert, commanding officer of the Halibut. "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."
During a news conference with reporters, Sibert recalled an instance when he and Horne rescued a large group of distressed teenage kayakers near Catalina Island who were blown offshore by a storm. After the rescue, Horne gave all the kids blankets and hot chocolate. Sibert recalled the sense of pride that Horne possessed.
In another instance, Horne and Sibert rescued the crew of a sailboat near Anacapa Island. Although the situation was extremely dangerous for both the sailors and the Coast Guard, all the people on board were saved “and it was because of his experience and professionalism,” Sibert said.
"He had this great ability to look at somebody, and it didn't matter if he was having a rough day, he could tell if something was wrong and he would drop what he was doing to help them and get them what they needed," Sibert said. "He was the best shipmate I have ever known. ... He was a big brother to us all, and he is absolutely irreplaceable."
Coast Guard Chief Kellian Whidden, executive petty officer for Coast Guard Station Los Angeles/Long Beach, said she met Horne about 18 months ago when they were both studying for command review boards.
"His first question to me was, 'What do you need help with?"' she said. "I told him I needed more ship-board experience, and his response was, 'I have room on the Halibut. Why don't you spend a week with us?' From then on, he was there to make sure I passed my command review boards, and he mentored me and allowed me to have somebody to look up to.
"He was a man of honor and I was proud to call him chief. As a chief we are in a position to influence those that work with us, and Chief Horne influenced his crew to seek better ways of doing business and to be proud of what you do. He understood and he lived the Coast Guard motto of honor, respect and, finally, giving the ultimate sacrifice of devotion to duty."
Before coming to the Marina del Rey station, Horne worked near Charleston, SC, and later moved to Redondo Beach, where he lived with his wife, Rachel, who is reportedly pregnant with the couple’s second child.
“He had a sense of leadership that echoed throughout the station,” said Chief Casey Curry, who met him in 2001. “He was loyal and level-headed.”
—City News Service contributed to this report.