Coast Guard hosts memorial run in Baltimore helping families in need
By PA1 Tasha Tully
The 5th Annual Nate Bruckenthal Memorial Run was held at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore April 27. More than 80 people participated in the five-kilometer event in honor of Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal. Bruckenthal was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Each year the event is coordinated by the Coast Guard Yard’s Morale, Well-being and Recreation Program, the Chief Warrant Officers Association, the Chief Petty Officers Association, the Coast Guard Enlisted Association and the Greater Baltimore Area Coast Guard Spouses Association.
“This is the second year in a row that we have brought a group from [Coast Guard] Station Philadelphia,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Lennox, a maritime enforcement specialist. “Though I didn’t know Nate, I worked in the same unit that he did in Miami and I feel like I had to come to honor him.”
Awards and prizes were given to the top two male and female finishers in the following age categories: 15 & under, 16-18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 and over. The best overall times for male and female runners will have their name placed on a plaque in the Coast Guard Yard Galley.
“I came to support a good cause,” said overall winner Matt Franco of Baltimore. “It is a nice event every year.”
All proceeds from the run will go to support Nate’s Open Door, a non-profit baby pantry that helps military members and civilian employees in the Baltimore area.
Nate’s Open Door pantry
By PA1 Tasha Tully
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class “Nate” B. Bruckenthal, a damage controlman, was killed April 24, 2004, while serving a second deployment in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nate was killed along with two Navy petty officers, Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Pernaselli, of Monroe, N.Y., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Watts, of Knoxville, Tenn., when the group intercepted a waterborne suicide attack on the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal off the coast of Iraq. Nate was the first Coast Guardsman to be killed during wartime since the Vietnam War.
“Nate’s Open Door was started in Baltimore in 2004 by [Coast Guard] Chief Petty Officer Teresa Padilla, Chaplain Michael Tomlinson and me,” said co-founder Ramona Vazquez. “I knew Nate when we worked together in Miami. Since then I have become very close with his family and I learned what an incredible humanitarian he was.”
Nate’s wife, Pattie, was pregnant with their daughter, Harper, at the time Nate was killed. Pattie’s sudden loss and unforeseen hardship inspired Vazquez to continue assisting struggling families.
“I am a Coast Guard wife and we are a Coast Guard family, and I understand needing help from time to time and having no family nearby,” confessed Vazquez. “Nate’s Open Door just helps take the edge off the financial struggle for those who need it.”
With support from the command at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Nate’s Open Door moved from being a closet in the chaplain’s office to its current location, a large room, near the exchange at the yard in 2005. The Open Door is run by the Greater Baltimore Area Coast Guard Spouse Association.
“Everything is offered to families for free, no strings attached. Another thing is that the doors are always open, we never lock them,” said Vazquez. “Nate’s father, Ric, once said ‘When one door closes, another door opens.’ He was referring to his son’s death, and the birth of his new granddaughter, but we feel that it may be true for the pantry too. It can be difficult for some families to accept help and we keep the doors open so that people can maintain anonymity if they want to.”
The pantry offers baby clothes from zero months to 6T, along with furniture, diapers, wipes and other donated items.
“It is also an exchange,” added Vazquez. “When you’re done using the clothes, and if they are still in good condition, you can exchange them for the next size up.”
Donations to Nate’s Open Door are always needed and always welcome. For more information on how you can contribute, visit http://www.coastguardspouseassociation.org/WhatWeDo/NatesOpenDoorPantryandExchange.aspx