The US Navy today honored close to 400 law enforcement and medical personnel for their response during the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent manhunt for the two suspects.
The first responders gathered this morning aboard the USS Constitution for a cruise of Boston Harbor and to remember the bombing victims. Shortly after departing the Charlestown Naval Yard, the ship’s crew paid its respects to the bombing victims with a moment of silence, the playing of “Taps,” and the laying of a wreath at sea.
“It brought us all closer together,” Frank Mastrangelo, 48, of Shirley said of the Marathon bombings. Mastrangelo, who served as captain of the finish line-area medical suite team, said he now feels a sort of brotherhood with other first responders.
“Before the Marathon, I didn’t know many of the 240 people on the medical team,” he said. “Now, I know a hell of a lot more of them. Now it feels like one big family.”
Among those being honored aboard the Constitution was Rick DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI in Boston.
“To be invited, to be here today as part of this unique event is a tremendous honor for me and for the FBI,” DesLauriers said.
As the historic warship reached Castle Island in Boston Harbor, its crew fired a 21-gun salute. As the ship turned back toward Charlestown, the Dropkick Murphys’ song “Shipping up to Boston” poured from onboard speakers.
Throughout the morning, law enforcement officials expressed gratitude for the support they have received in the weeks since the April 15 attack.
“The support from the community is just incredible. Every city and town should support its police department,” Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau said. “It’s very moving to spend time with these people, to hear their stories, and to see so many brave men and women.”
The 215-year-old USS Constitution, which featured prominently in the War of 1812, is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world. It earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” after cannonballs fired from the British HMS Guerriere bounced off its hull during a battle off the coast of Nova Scotia on Aug. 19, 1812.