Lost Coast Guard Crew Remembered 30 Years Later



The painting "That Others May Live," by Ardon Von Dewitz, depicts the rescue attempt in which an Air Station Kodiak crew was lost. It hangs on base.

Brianna Gibbs/KMXT

Coast Guard Base Kodiak held a memorial service on Sunday to honor the 30th anniversary of a helicopter crash that took the lives of all four crewmembers on board.

A Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican crashed on August 7, 1981, during a rescue mission to a distressed fishing vessel in the Gulf of Alaska. While performing a night hoist in the heavy weather, the tail rotor of the helicopter clipped the water causing the helicopter to crash. The entire crew, including Lieutenant Ernest P. Rivas, Lieutenant Joseph G. Spoja, Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class Scott E. Finfrock and Third Class Aviation Electronics Technician John H. Snyder, drowned in the accident.

The memorial service on Sunday honored the fallen crewmembers and their bravery that day. The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Bob Papp, was in town over the weekend and attended the service to pay his respect. He said it’s important to remember those who have sacraficed.

The helicopter crash at the beginning of the 2006 movie The Guardian, which was partially filmed in Kodiak, was loosely based on the tragic accident 30 years ago.

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