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Lost At Sea Memorial in Murrells Inlet reaches 10th year for ceremony

Attendees of the 2009 Lost At Sea Memorial ceremony at Morse Park Landing in Murrells Inlet look at four new names engraved on the monument that year.
Attendees of the 2009 Lost At Sea Memorial ceremony at Morse Park Landing in Murrells Inlet look at four new names engraved on the monument that year. The Sun News file

Each one of the 30 names on the Lost At Sea Memorial bears a special story and a pause for remembrance every first Sunday in April.

They include David L. Hodge and Peter M. Thomas, respective 39- and 24-year-old Georgetown natives who, as members of the Winyah Rescue Squad, flew a Cessna Dec. 7, 1996, on a search and rescue mission in the Atlantic Ocean. After helping locate a stranded boater and Hodge’s turning their plane homeward with hopes to beat severe weather, their aircraft dropped off radar. Their wreckage was found later near Capers Island, south of Awendaw.

Since April 2006, the black granite monument in Morse Park Landing, on U.S. 17 Business, on the south end of Murrells Inlet, has paid tribute to souls lost at sea. The monument was unveiled with 17 names, but that number has reached 30, with one name added in 2014. The lost hail from various backgrounds, including a harbor pilot, assistant lighthouse keeper and various service personnel, such as an Army Air Forces master sergeant being transported among prisoners of war.

The family of Johnny W. Brown, the first name on the stone, established the memorial in memory of the commercial fisherman who died on April 2, 2005, after the vessel Tracie Lynn was toppled by a 30-foot-tall wave in a storm off North Carolina. Two other crew members were rescued.

Brown’s mother, Brenda Brown, reflected for a few minutes Thursday on her family’s loss and how this memorial has come to provide so many purposes for her and others, with an annual ceremony. The public is invited to the 2015 event, at 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

Brown said Johnny Brown, a father of two boys, was the youngest of her five sons, and they had two sisters rounding out the household that she and husband Jack Brown raised in the Murrells Inlet-Socastee area.

Question | How did this monument come to makes its mark on Earth almost a decade ago, with a ceremony that has become an annual tradition?

Answer | It was the entire family, with my other six children, their spouses and grandchildren, and my two sisters, and even some cousins, all involved. It was a family affair. … When you lose someone at sea, you don’t have a funeral to go to, or a gravesite to visit. …

We’ve known others who had been lost at sea. … We needed a ceremony for people who were lost.

Q. | Do time and continued remembrance help in some small way in the process toward healing?

A. | A good bit, but then again, planning the memorial service every year is almost like you’re going to the funeral year after year, and it’s really getting hard. I even told my husband it’s getting to be too much, but when I get there that one Sunday … probably about four to five years ago … and I looked at the other families and saw how much it means to them, it encouraged me to keep going. At some point, you realize you’re not doing it for yourself, but doing it for others. …

The wound never closes, and I don’t believe in closure. You might learn to deal with it, but you don’t ever forget.

Q. | How many names will be added to the monument in the service this year?

A. | None. We had one last year, and we didn’t have any since 2009.

Q. | What else moves you with this memorial?

A. | There are really amazing stories behind the names of those people. I wish someone would write a book about them. … One mother lost three sons out there, starting with two in 1925 in the Bermuda Triangle. One man was lost in World War II, when the ship he was in was torpedoed. … One year, a descendant at a service met two half-siblings he had never known about, who came all the way from Germany. This makes you realize how important this is.

Q. | Does not having any addition of names this year make the occasion a little less heavy?

A. | It’s a little easier. … You don’t have to meet new people who are going through this process of grieving. … We’ve all become one great, big family. It’s like a family reunion, but bittersweet.

Q. | With the 2015 ceremony falling on Easter, do you recall any other instances of the event and day coinciding?

A. | It’s always on the first Sunday every year. I think we had one other year on Easter, because I remember seeing some plastic eggs from an Easter egg hunt the day before. …

We’ve had good weather every year, although one time, we had no-see-ums, and everybody was waving their hands through the whole ceremony.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

Lost At Sea Memorial

What | Annual ceremony for Lost At Sea Memorial, through 2014 with 30 names of people lost at sea

When | 2 p.m. April 5 – always the first Sunday in April

Where | Morse Park Landing, on south end of U.S. 17 Business in Murrells Inlet

Information | For submission of names and applications:

▪ 458-7671

▪ www.lostatseamemorial.com

▪ E-mail staff@lostatseamemorial.com

▪ U.S. mail: 1250 Birch Ave., Conway, SC 29526.

By the numbers

Memorialized in 2006

▪ Johnny Brown, Georgetown native, lost at sea April 2, 2005.

▪ Wright Sparks Skinner Jr., Georgetown native, Feb. 13, 1988.

▪ Shaun R. Eckert, April 14, 2005.

▪ Peter M. Thomas and David L. Hodge, Georgetown natives, Dec. 7, 1996.

▪ Ernest Lee Turner, Florence native, on or about April 13, 1998.

▪ David L. Goins, Georgetown native, April 13, 1998.

▪ Stacey L. Chancey, Florence native, May 4, 1984.

▪ Verlon J. Anderson, Jacksonville, Fla., native, Feb. 14, 2005.

▪ Navy Radioman/Seaman David A. Wasel, April 10, 1963.

▪ Zachary Scott Schafer, Jan. 25, 2004.

▪ Robert Larse Bergholm, Greenville native, December 1993.

▪ Henry Iseman Harrelson, Georgetown native, June 17, 1942.

▪ Samuel Mertimer Harrelson and Olin Beckman Harrelson, brothers (also to Henry Iseman Harrelson) and Georgetown natives, Dec. 1, 1925.

▪ John Henry Smalls Sr., Georgetown native, Oct. 24, 1957.

▪ Dan Jenkins, Georgetown native, Oct. 24, 1957.

▪ George Harrison Cooper, Myrtle Beach native, Nov. 8, 1978.

2007

▪ Michael A. Hendrix, North Charleston native, December 1979.

▪ George C. Ellis, Nov. 5, 1938.

▪ Aaron Dale Erwin, about Dec. 2, 1994.

▪ Robert “Bobby” Vaughan Clarke Jr., Florence native, May, 18, 2006.

▪ Peter L. Bacuinka, Sept. 8, 1926.

2008

▪ John W. Kneidl, May 5, 1945.

▪ Daniel James Phalen, Nov. 2, 2007.

2009

▪ Army Air Forces Master Sgt. Charles Benjamin Causey Sr., Conway native, Oct. 24, 1944.

▪ Melvin Wayne Hobbs, and James Heyward Oliver, a Chesterfield County native, about Oct. 16, 1970.

▪ Mark Allan Shackelford, Jacksonville, Fla., native, April 29, 2010.

2014

▪ Army Sgt. Kurtis R. Hutchison, April 21, 2013.

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