Friday, March 29, 2013

10009. John Thomas McKean

Well, it's obvious I undershot the number. When I conceived of this project, I thought it would be cool to read 10,000 tombstones, but the truth is that I hit that number part way into the second month of the year. So we'll re-adjust. Let's go for 50,000.

One-fifth of the way there, we meet a Coast Guardsman. Not surprising, really. New London, not far from Mystic, is sacred Coast Guard ground, the home of the Academy. And John Thomas McKean. Lieutenant Commander, United States Coast Guard, was one who knew that. He only lived to 34, but it's obvious he was dedicated to his service, for the words on his tombstone are the first few lines of the Coast Guard Hymn:

"Eternal Father, Lord of Hosts
Watch o'er the ones who guard our coasts
Protect them from the raging seas
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from thy great throne above
The shield and shelter of thy love."

I'll talk more about the Coast Guard, and soon, for theirs has been, at times, a thankless job. But I have nothing but deep respect for those men and women who have dedicated their lives to saving others on the sea - which the service was still mainly focused on doing when LCDR McKean died. Missions change, but the spirit remains. Bravo Zulu, Commander.


  1. This is my first cousin's husband. He was killed in an accident with his own gun at the Academy. He served in Vietnam in swift boats and lived through some terrible times. He was a good husband and father. He is missed and loved. Chris Kassabian Schaefer

  2. My respect for him just grew tenfold. My dad was wounded and decorated with a Purple Heart with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. Thanks for letting me know more about him.

  3. John Thomas was my XO on the cutter Reliance at Corpus Christi Texas. I worked with him close. Being a 21 year old at the time he would give me words of wisdom. He was 100 % Coast Guard and ran a tight ship. In Vietnam ge served on RONONE 82 footers and was the CO of his 82 foot patrol craft i have lost other CG Shipmates but the loss of john bothers me to this day. I hope his wife and boys are ok? My email address is: I recently met our CO Cmdr Paul Anderson daughter by chance. Sadly he passed away young too. RIP JT and Paul. We think of you two often. SK 2 USCG Vet Jim Monko