Valor Friday

| July 24, 2020

Coast Guard Senior Chief Terrell Horne III

For today’s Valor Friday Mason brings us Senior Chief Terrell Horne III, USCG, and his remarkable heroism in the “Other” War, the War on Drugs.

The Korean War is often called “The Forgotten War”. Overshadowed by the much larger World War that preceded it by only five years and without the media coverage and protests of the Vietnam War that would follow it in the next decade. However, there is another war that our service members fight that is even more forgotten. Today’s hero is a veteran of that war.

The war of which I speak is our decades old “war on drugs”. When that war is spoken of it most often conjures images of police enforcing illegal drug possession and drug dealing. Enforcing those laws is not without its dangers, I can tell you personally. As much as street cops, narcotics agents, and DEA agents would like to believe (and most will happily tell you) that they are the front line of the war on drugs, they aren’t in my opinion.

The real front line of the war on drugs is being fought daily at our borders. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, and the oft-forgotten sixth branch of the armed forces (though not the smallest any more), the US Coast Guard, all defend our border and interdict and battle with drug smugglers regularly. When I say battle, it’s not a figurative term, they fight drug smuggling with as much valor and many of the same tactics as used by the other branches of the armed forces in tackling the enemy at sea, on land, and in the air.

Terrell Horne III was from Mountain Home, California and enlisted into the US Coast Guard in 1999. A boatswain’s mate, he served ashore at Emerald Isle, Humboldt Bay, Charleston, and at sea aboard USCGC Dallas.

He’d served for nearly 14 years, earned a Coast Guard Commendation Medal, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and was a Chief Petty Officer by December 2012. Horne was the Executive Petty Officer aboard USCGC Halibut, an 87 foot long Protector-class patrol boat with a crew of 12. The Executive Petty Officer is the ship’s second in command. Halibut operated out of Marina Del Rey, California.

USCGC Halibut

In the early morning of December 2nd, 2012, Halibut was vectored by a Coast Guard maritime surveillance aircraft to a suspicious vessel in the area of the Channel Islands west of Malibu, California. The boat was loitering in the area without navigation lights, common indicators of a smuggler. The Halibut’s skipper sent the ship’s jet-powered aluminum hull cutterboat with Chief Horne leading the boarding team to investigate.

The craft they were investigating was a panga-style boat. These are simple wooden boats with outboard motors common throughout the developing world. Along the American west coast these cheap but capable boats are favored by drug smugglers. The 20 foot long (or longer) pangas are capable of being loaded with more than four tons of cargo. Fitted with a large enough engine, their planing hulls are capable of 40 MPH, exceeding the top speed of a Coast Guard cutter by a fair margin.


As Horne’s small boat approached the panga they ordered it to heave to. It was then that the wooden vessel veered at high speed into the Coast Guard boat, ramming it. As the smugglers’ boat was about to hit them, the crew opened fire with sidearms. Chief Horne pushed his coxswain out of the way of the panga a split moment before it hit directly where the man was standing.

Despite trying to get his crewman out of the way, both the coxswain and Horne went into the water from the force of the impact. With two men in the water, the boat crew switched into the Coast Guard’s other primary role, sea rescue, with the smugglers fleeing.

Halibut recovered their boat and the two downed personnel. The Coastie Horne saved from a direct hit by the smuggler’s boat sustained only minor injuries. For the chief it was immediately apparent that he was in much worse shape. After going into the water, his head had been struck by the drug running boat’s propeller.

Horne’s fellow crew rendered aid as best they could and sped into port where he was unfortunately pronounced dead. He was 34 years old and left behind a pregnant wife and two sons. He was the first Coast Guard member killed by smugglers since 1927

Chief Horne was credited through his quick thinking and decisive action with saving the life of his coxswain. He paid the price for his bravery with his life as happens far too often in the war on drugs.

For his actions, Horne was awarded the Coast Guard Medal (the USCG equivalent of the Soldier’s Medal, Airman’s Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal), the military’s highest award for gallantry not in action against the enemy. It’s the non-combat equivalent of a service cross (like the Navy Cross), in this case the Coast Guard Cross (which has yet to be awarded). He was also posthumously promoted to senior chief petty officer.

Coast Guard Medal

USCG Senior Chief

In 2019 the USCG commissioned a Sentinel-class cutter, USCGC Terrell Horne. It operates out of San Pedro, CA. At the commissioning ceremony, Horne’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Stewart Sibert (then a lieutenant) eulogized Horne with only glowing praise.

USCGC Terrell Horne

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Terrell and how he made me a better officer,” said Sibert. “I remember him as an endlessly patient chief who took a green [lieutenant junior grade] under his wing and showed him how to take care of our crew. Senior Chief Horne was a natural leader. He was a gifted ship handler and he idealized our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.”

Other Coast Guard assets were able to follow and interdict the panga boat and its two crew who had killed Horne. Both men were arrested and later tried for their crimes. One was convicted in federal court for the murder of Terrell Horne and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The other was convicted of failing to heave to and assault, being sentenced to 10 years prison.

No greater love…
Hand Salute. Ready, Two!
Once again, thanks Mason.

Category: Coast Guard, Guest Post, The Warrior Code, Valor

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Great story. I’ll pass it on to my Coastie friend.


The Coast Guard are a blessing to our Nation.

Thank you, Senior Chief Terrell. You will be missed.

5th/77th FA

“…no greater love…”

“…that such men lived.”

Gun Salute for Coastie Senior Chief Terrell Horne III. PREPARE!!!! FIRE!!!

Have made mention of My niece and a God Daughter that were both little bad ass Coasties. Maybe the Coast Guard should get them a coupla PT boats; with torpedo tubes still mounted.

Tanks Mason.


Thank you for this.

My nephew is the coxswain Chief Horne saved, and is still serving today because of his actions.

He was present at the commissioning ceremony of the new Cutter with the rest of the Halibut crew that were with Chief Horne when he was killed and they made honorary plankowners of the new Cutter bearing his name.


That’s a connection I didn’t expect. Glad to hear your nephew is doing well. I never saw his name in any of the research I did on Horne. Which is good in a way as it keeps the focus on Senior Chief Horne.