“A few years after the CG-6505 accident, I learned how much the Foundation helped my family and the other 6505 families. They did what they could to help my family during this crisis and still continue to remember and honor my dad.”
Adriana Nelson, daughter of the late Captain Thomas G. Nelson, received the Coast Guard Foundation's Fallen Heroes Scholarship in 2015.
Captain Nelson was one of four crew members from Coast Guard helicopter CG-6505 who died when their HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter tragically went down in the ocean five miles off Honolulu airport during a training flight on September 4, 2008.
Adriana is studying Economics in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. On her high school graduation day in June, 2015 she visited Arlington National Cemetery to place a Hawaiian orchid lei on her dad’s headstone.
“I received the honor of summa cum laude and was proud to have that diploma in my hand,” said Adriana. “I was overjoyed to give the lei, a sign of the effort I put into getting that diploma and an acceptance to a great college - overall, I was very excited to share the occasion with my dad.”
She embraced the Hawaiian culture while stationed in Honolulu with her family, and has kept the Isles of Aloha with her ever since, performing with her Virginia-based hula school at events for the National Museum of American Indian, Wounded Warrior Project and more.
“To receive any amount of financial aid is beneficial, but being debt free is a blessing.” she said. “In return it certainly motivates me to work hard and do well.”
The Coast Guard Foundation’s Fallen Heroes Fund, a program which provides emergency assistance to the families, friends and shipmates of those Coast Guard heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice, was established immediately after the loss of CG-6505.
“A few years after the accident, I learned how much the Foundation helped my family and the other 6505 families,” said Adriana. “They did what they could to help my family during this crisis and still continue to remember and honor my dad.”
Adriana, left, with her mom Vicky, Captain Nelson, and sister Aurora-Jean.
Today, that support continues from the Foundation, and also from the Coast Guard community. In 2015 Adriana and her family received a quilt made in honor of Commander Nelson from the group ‘Quilting Coastie Mamas’ - a group which donates quilts to members of the Coast Guard family who have lost a loved one.
“Everyone is so sweet and have helped me through these difficult times,” said Adriana, when she heard about the quilt.
Adriana’s connection to the Coast Guard also remains today; her grandfather, James Nelson, is currently a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Carolina, and she reflects fondly on the seven moves, long cross-country drives and new schools throughout her time as a Coast Guard kid.
“I loved moving, meeting new people, and living in different areas of the nation - I feel I have made some lifelong friends along the way,” she said. “I will always consider myself as part of the Coast Guard family.”
“I hope that I can keep my dad's words of wisdom with me forever; that I remember the lessons he taught me, and the most important one being after his death: that you hold your head high and you love, unconditionally.”