CAPE MAY, N.J. – A Coast Guard marching cadence dedicated to the memory of a Coast Guardsman who died after a ships collision at the mouth of Tampa Bay was nominated as one of Coast Guard Boot Camp’s Top Five Marching Cadences of 2012 Sept. 21.
The marching cadence entitled “Your Son is Gone” chronicles the last surviving minutes of Seaman Apprentice William R. Flores aboard Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn Jan. 28, 1980. Flores was killed during the worst peacetime disaster in Coast Guard history along with 22 other Coast Guardsmen after the Blackthorn and a commercial vessel collided at the mouth of Tampa Bay.
“Flores set the bar for the selflessness, courage and character we are trying to instill in our recruits,” said Capt. Bill Kelly, commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “We will never forget his sacrifice, and we hope his legacy will live on in each of the thousands of Coast Guardsmen who graduate Training Center Cape May every year.”
“Your Son is Gone” will be featured as part of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May’s 2012 Marching Cadence Contest. The Coast Guard will ask the public to vote on Coast Guard Boot Camp’s Top Cadence by liking videos of the cadences being sung by recruits on its Facebook page.
Flores, who had been out of boot camp less than a year, posthumously received the Coast Guard Medal more than two decades later Sept. 16, 2000, for his actions following the collision between the two vessels. When the ship began to list and roll, Flores tied open the lifejacket locker of the Blackthorn with his belt, which allowed lifejackets to float to the surface for those crewmembers able to abandon ship. Flores stayed aboard the Blackthorn after most of the crew had abandoned ship to comfort and help trapped and injured shipmates. His body was found six days later on a Florida beach.
“We want every graduate from Training Center Cape May to know the sacrifice of Seaman Flores because it demonstrates no matter your rank or position you can make an impact in this organization,” said Kelly. “Our recruits will be singing this cadence for years to come.”
Training Center Cape May is the Coast Guard’s only enlisted basic training center and accession point. Only about four percent of applicants are selected for enlisted service in the Coast Guard, and of the select few who make it to basic training, about 15 percent will either be reverted, re-phased or washout of training. Coast Guard recruits endure an intense and demanding eight-week training program that prepares them for the rigors of service in the Coast Guard.
The training center staff solicited cadences from the more than 400 Coast Guardsmen, employees and Auxiliarists aboard Training Center Cape May. Of the dozens of cadences sung aboard Training Center Cape May, only five were nominated by a panel of senior officers aboard the base for the title of Coast Guard Boot Camp’s Top Cadence. The winning cadence will be announced on the training center’s Facebook page Oct. 1, 2012.
The Coast Guard recently also named one of its newest Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters after Flores. Each Fast Response Cutter will be named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 58 FRCs to replace the service’s 110-foot Island Class fleet, which range in age from 20 to 27 years old.
Cutter William Flores will be commissioned into service Nov. 3, 2012. Flores’ family was able to attend the dedication of the ship at Bollinger Shipyard in Lockport, La., March 2, 2012.