U.S. Coast Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III pushed his fellow officer off their patrol vessel in the path of a speeding, drug-carrying panga boat. He died of a severe head injury after the impact. He was memorialized Saturday. Janet Zappala reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2012.
A U.S. Coast Guard officer killed when a drug-smuggling Mexican panga boat rammed his small vessel was memorialized in San Pedro Saturday afternoon.
A 14-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III died last Sunday when investigating a suspicious boat off Santa Cruz Island.
Two Mexican nationals have been charged in his death, which occurred after Horne's patrol vessel was struck by a panga that sped toward the Coast Guard boat after the latter flashed police lights.
At the last minute, Terrell pushed a boatmate away from the collision, which sent both of them overboard. Terrell suffered a fatal head injury.
"He put his crew before himself. ... He did what leaders do: He reacted instinctively, reflexively. He put his crew before himself, and leadership like that is the very soul of our service," said Adrmiral Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano attended the 1 p.m. event, held at Reservation Point on Terminal Island.
"Senior Chief Horne devoted his life (to) serving the most notable of causes, the protection of our nation, the defense of our freedoms and the rescue of those in distress," Napolitano said.
Terrell was based in Marina del Rey and lived with his family in Redondo Beach. He was 34, and had two young sons and a baby on the way.
Colleagues remembered him earlier this week as loyal and calm during stressful situations.
"His true sense of leadership echoed throughout the station. He was that type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. Everyone just remembers how loyal, level-headed, and what a friend he was," said Casey Curry, of Coast Guard Station Long Beach.