A picture of the plaque that honors the the Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew of the 6541 at Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay in McKinleyville, California, July 10, 2019. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard.


From the U.S. Coast Guard District 11 Public Affairs Office:

  • WHAT: Coast Guard personnel are scheduled to host the 25th memorial anniversary to honor the Coast Guard helicopter crew of the 6541
  • WHEN: Friday at 10:00 a.m.
  • WHERE: Coast Guard Plaza at 1 F St., Eureka, CA 95501

Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay personnel are scheduled to host a memorial service to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Coast Guard 6541 helicopter crew in Eureka Friday at 10 a.m.

Sector Humboldt Bay personnel invite the public to attend the ceremony.

The four-person aircrew of the 6541, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, crashed 25 years ago, July 12, 1994, while responding to a 40-foot sailboat that became grounded during the early morning along the rocky shoreline of Shelter Cove.

Heavy fog on that pre-dawn morning made a visual approach to the sailboat difficult and the aircrew performed several instrument approaches to the position of the sailboat, attempting to gain visual contact to conduct the rescue. On their third attempt the Dolphin struck a shoreline cliff, taking the life of all four aircrew members.

Sector Humboldt Bay is hosting family and friends of the crew, local first responders and the members of Sector Humboldt Bay for a remembrance ceremony. The ceremony will include bagpipes and a speech by the sector commander with a tolling of the bell for each member who perished in the crash: Lt. Laurence Williams, Lt. Mark Koteek, Senior Chief Petty Officer Peter Leeman and Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Gill. A wreath will be laid in the location of the crash at 1:30 p.m. to honor their sacrifice.

Lt. Laurence Williams moved to Humboldt Bay in October 1990 where he later met and married his wife, Wendy. Williams served with distinction as an aircraft commander. He was the unit training officer, public affairs officer and historian. Williams was a Coast Guard pilot for six years. He was from Orlando, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University.

Lt. Mark Koteek and his wife, Karen, came to Humboldt Bay in February 1993. Koteek served commendably as a copilot and as the exchange and food services officer. He was a Coast Guard pilot for three years. He was from Saugerties, New York, and was a Coast Guard Academy graduate.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Peter Leeman, his wife, Darlene, and his daughter, April, arrived at Humboldt Bay in August 1991. Leeman was a dedicated rescue swimmer and flight mechanic. He served as the chairman of the enlisted standardization board for aircrew training and was the aviation survival shop supervisor. He served 14 years in the aviation field. Leeman was a native of Oxford, Maine, and was pursuing an associate’s degree at the College of the Redwoods.

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Gill and his wife, Donna, came to Humboldt Bay in May 1990. In December 1991, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Audrey. Gill was a conscientious aviation mechanic who served in the aviation community for 14 years. He was a quality assurance inspector and an aircrew standardization board member. Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, Gill was pursuing his associate’s degree at the College of the Redwoods.

The crew of the 6541 lived the rescuers motto, “So others may live.”