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Coast Guardsman killed in suspected smuggling incident remembered

Salute

A veteran Coast Guardsman killed last week when his boat was rammed by suspected smugglers was remembered at a memorial service Sunday as a patriot.

But amid the pomp and circumstance of military mourning — the flyovers and rifle salutes — another side emerged of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34: a doting father known to do push-ups with his two young sons on his back; a giving friend who smoked cigars with his buddies; a warrior willing to dress in ugly holiday sweaters around Christmastime.

His colleagues, in their formal bravo uniforms, were seen wiping away tears as Horne's brother-in-law told his widow, pregnant with a third child, that the hole in her heart would never go away, nor should it.

PHOTOS: Memorial for Coast Guard officer

"The goal is to create a permanent space in your heart that he can live in," he said. "That hole that you're feeling right now is not something to be feared."

The memorial was a reminder of what officials say is a growing threat of smugglers along the nation's coasts. Last Sunday, Horne and three shipmates spotted a panga — an open fishing boat favored by smugglers ferrying marijuana bales and illegal immigrants — running without lights near the Santa Barbara coast. In the darkness, they turned on their blue flashing lights and shouted, in English and Spanish: "Stop! Police! Put your hands up!"

But the two men aboard the panga throttled their engines, authorities said, and headed straight for the small, inflatable Coast Guard boat. Crew members fired on the men but couldn't stop the vessel from ramming into theirs, a collision that sent Horne into the water with a fatal head wound. Colleagues said Horne may have saved the life of the boat's coxswain by pushing him from the helm and exposing himself to the oncoming boat.

The men on the panga — believed to be supplying gasoline to other smuggling craft along the California coast — initially got away but were later arrested as they tried to flee back to Mexico. On Saturday, top officials in attendance at Horne's memorial said his death underscored the dangers posed by smugglers abandoning well-policed land routes in favor of the sea.

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--Robert Faturechi

Photo: A member of the Coast Guard is seen saluting in the reflection of a family portrait of Terrell Horne, who was killed in the line of duty. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

 
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