SAN PEDRO (KTLA) — U.S. Coast Guard officials held a memorial Saturday for a veteran chief petty officer killed after suspected smugglers rammed his vessel with a drug-smuggling panga boat.
More than 1,000 people from the law enforcement community, U.S. Coast Guard, and the government, including U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, attended the memorial for Terrell Horne III.
Horne, who lived in Redondo Beach, had served in the Coast Guard for nearly 14 years and was second in command of the Halibut patrol cutter.
The ceremony also included multiple aircraft flyovers, a 21-gun salute by the Coast Guard Honor Guard, music by the Coast Guard Band, and an award presentation.
Horne, 34, was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 2 when suspected drug smugglers rammed his vessel near Santa Cruz Island.
Last week, two Mexican nationals were charged in Horne’s death.
Boat captain Jose Mejia-Leyva and Manuel Beltra-Higuera appeared in court last Monday to face charges of killing a federal officer. Both were ordered held without bail.
The crash happened after the Halibut was dispatched to investigate a boat operating near Santa Cruz Island, which is the largest of the Channel Islands.
The boat, a “panga”-style vessel commonly used by smugglers, was first detected by a patrol plane. It had fallen under suspicion because it was operating at night without any lights.
The Coast Guard cutter contains a smaller boat — a rigid-hull inflatable used routinely for search-and-rescue operations and missions that require a nimble approach.
When Horne and his team approached in the inflatable, the suspect boat gunned its engine, maneuvered directly toward the Coast Guard inflatable, rammed it and fled.
The impact knocked Horne and another Coast Guardsman into the water.
Both were rescued, but Horne suffered a massive head injury caused by a propeller, according to the affidavit. Paramedics met the Halibut at the pier at Port Hueneme, where Horne was pronounced dead.
Horne arrived in Southern California last summer after serving for two years as an executive petty officer in Emerald Isle, N.C.
There, he received a Coast Guard Commendation Medal for his leadership in 63 search-and-rescue cases, in which 38 lives were saved.