CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) — On September 21st, 1973, John Phillip Pledger made a life-changing decision. The petty officer offered to fill in for his colleague who needed to study for a test. Moments later, Pledger was called on a search-and-rescue mission.
"Looking for a mariner in distress off the coast of Station Port Aransas, a flare accidentally ignited in the aircraft which resulted in a crash which all members on board perished," said Commander Laurence Gallard.
Pledger left behind his two-year-old daughter Tracy and wife, who was pregnant at the time. Tracy Pledger did not get to attend her father's funeral.
Yet 45 years later, she stood at attention with the men and women of the USCG Corpus Christi Sector. On September 21st, 2018, they held a memorial service at Sherril Park.
"I'm touched and honored that they do this for the last 45 years, it's amazing," she said.
The teary-eyed daughter recalled the day her father passed away. She said her mother passed away 20 years ago and her sister wasn't alive to know their father.
"This coming year just makes it feel like its just happening," she said.
As the National Anthem played and USCG members stood at attention, Tracy approached the headstone to say her final good-bye.
"You never wanna think that your loved ones are forgotten and they obviously aren't," Tracy said through her tears.
Various members spoke to the crowd to remember those who passed away in the accident. Tracy said it offered some closure after all these years.
"I feel like I'm at the funeral I never got to go to."
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