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New Coast Guard cutter to be named for local hero

A biting wind blew off the cold lake Tuesday, but it was a whisper compared to the gales of April 30, 1967, when a 32-year-old Coast Guardsman ventured into the crashing waves to save three teenagers who had been swept into the Duluth ship canal.

Four members of the U.S. Coast Guard onboard a response boat salute the North Pier of the Duluth Ship Canal on Monday, the 52nd anniversary of the death of Coast Guardsman Boatswain's Mate First Class Edgar Culbertson while trying to rescue three brothers from the pier during a storm. The USCG is building a 154-foot long Sentinel-class fast response cutter to be named in Culbertson’s honor. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
Four members of the U.S. Coast Guard onboard a response boat salute the North Pier of the Duluth Ship Canal on Monday, the 52nd anniversary of the death of Coast Guardsman Boatswain's Mate First Class Edgar Culbertson while trying to rescue three brothers from the pier during a storm. The USCG is building a 154-foot long Sentinel-class fast response cutter to be named in Culbertson’s honor. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
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A biting wind blew off the cold lake Tuesday, but it was a whisper compared to the gales of April 30, 1967, when a 32-year-old Coast Guardsman ventured into the crashing waves to save three teenagers who had been swept into the Duluth ship canal.

Boatswain Mate First Class Edgar A. Culbertson gave his life trying to save the Halverson brothers, and for his sacrifice the Coast Guard is naming a new fast-response cutter for him.

The 154-foot Coast Guard Cutter Edgar Culbertson is now under construction at Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana, and by this time next year it will be at its home port of Galveston, Texas, said U.S. Coast Guard Public Information Officer Lisa Novak.

The vessels are designed for a variety of purposes, such as "drug and migrant interdictions; ports, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense," according to a Coast Guard fact sheet. The Culbertson will be the 37th fast-response cutter, which are replacing 1980s-era 110-foot patrol boats. The vessel should be completed by January and will have a formal commissioning ceremony in Galveston in April or May next year, Novak said.

Tom Mackay, a friend of Culbertson, said the naming is a fitting honor: "I'm pretty proud of that."

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Mackay was on the north pier of the ship canal Tuesday, as he is every year on April 30 to commemorate his friend's heroism. Three flowers were laid on the plaque for the Halverson boys, and one more for Culbertson.

A contingent of Coast Guard members floated through the ship canal saluting the monument just after noon Tuesday. Mackay's hope is that "someday after I leave this Earth, he will still be in our thoughts."

Even better, he'll be sailing.

Related Topics: LAKE SUPERIORHISTORY
Brooks Johnson was an enterprise/investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune from 2016 to 2019.
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