Anniversary of Sinking of The White Alder

The White Alder was a Coast Guard buoy tender.

On Saturday, December 7, 1968, White Alder was steaming down-bound on the Mississippi River. At approximately 6:30 p.m., it collided with the up-bound motor vessel Helena, a 455-foot Taiwanese freighter. The accident occurred above Head of Passes near White Castle, Louisiana, causing the 133-foot buoy tender to sink in 75 feet of water with three of its crew surviving.

I was 11 years old and camping with my Boy Scout Troop on the edge of the Mississippi River at Darrow, Louisiana (RM 179) just a few miles down river from the incident. We were visited all night by State Troopers, USCG personnel, and other agencies. We assisted in the search for crew members by walking up and down the sandy bank of the River. I had a mixture of emotions from trepidation about possibly finding deceased men, and some excitement and hope about finding survivors. In the end, I remember just feeling sadness. It was an incident that has haunted my memories for all these years.

Please pause today to remember White Alder and its lost crew members:

Seaman Apprentice Walter P. Abbott, III
Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Michael R. Agnew
Chief Warrant Officer Samuel C. Brown, Jr.
Seaman Frank P. Campisano, III
Fireman Maurice Cason
Quartermaster 2nd Class John R. Cooper, Jr.
Seaman Richard W. Duncan
Seaman Apprentice Larry V. Fregia
Seaman Apprentice Ramon J. Gutierrez
Seaman Roger R. Jacks
Seaman Steven D. Lundquist
Yeoman 2nd Class Joseph A.R. Morin
Commissaryman 2nd Class Charles R. Morrison
Engineman 3rd Class Walton E. O’Quinn, Jr.
Engineman 1st Class John B. Rollinson
Chief Engineman William J. Vitt
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Guy T. Wood

Much of the factual information here was taken from an article that can be found at this link:

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Thank you for trying to help my brothers of other mothers and remembering them.

I guarantee they appreciated what you did. Thank you from a Coastie.

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You’re welcome. I was just a kid at the time, but I remember how intense and important it felt to be involved. If only the outcome were different …

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