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The deaths of six U.S. Coast Guard personnel during a terrible storm on Lake Erie 99 years ago have at last been honored with the installation of a plaque to mark the event, Canadian history enthusiasts announced.
Light Vessel 82, a ship of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, sank in November 1913, taking six servicemen to the bottom.
The initiative to erect a marker to commemorate the event took about six years and involved support on both sides of the border to raise the $3,000 cost of the memorial, the group's organizers said.
The plaque, in Waterfront Park in Crystal Beach, was unveiled Saturday morning and is accessible for the public to view.
"We're so excited," Rick Doan, one of those involved in erecting the marker, said in a news release. "The story of LV-82 is one of duty, courage, and ultimate sacrifice."
During the three-day storm in 1913, the six members of the Coast Guard were duty-bound to remain with their vessel, which was warning ships away from the rocks and shoals off Point Abino. Winds reached 80 mph, and the waves on the lake hit 35 feet, members of the history group said.
The sunken ship was located in May 1914.
Only one seaman's body was ever recovered, when it washed ashore.
Today, the area is serviced by the Point Abino Lighthouse, which was built by the Canadian government shortly after World War I.
"It's an important piece of local history," Doan said, "and it will finally be publicly memorialized so that these heroes will not be forgotten."
Funds for the marker were contributed by individuals and businesses on both sides of the border, as well as Coast Guard members, the Town of Fort Erie, and the Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society.
The names of the six servicemen who died are: Capt. Hugh M. Williams of Michigan; Chief Engineer Charles Butler of Buffalo; Asst. Engineer Cornelius Leahy from Ohio; Mate Andrew Leahy from Ohio (brother of Cornelius); Seaman William Jensen from Michigan; and Cook Peter Mackey from Buffalo.

email: cvogel@buffnews.com