New Coast Guard ship named after a former Green Bay Packer
PHILADELPHIA (WBAY) - Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a new ship in Philadelphia that bears the name of former Green Bay Packers player Emlen Tunnell.
While serving with the Coast Guard in 1944, Tunnell suffered burns saving a shipmate after a Japanese torpedo hit their ship in Papau, New Guinea. Then, in 1946, he jumped into freezing water to save another shipmate who’d fallen off the USS Tampa in Newfoundland.
“This is a chance to celebrate and merge those two stories of a Coast Guard hero who is awarded the Silver Life Saving Medal for saving two Coast Guard men,” Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz said.
“He wanted to do as much as he could as long as he could,” his god daughter, Mialee Anderson, said. ”If you go through his history, you see he did a lot of firsts. And in doing so, he set precedent for others to follow.”
After his military service, Tunnell joined the NFL, playing for the New York Giants and the Packers. He won a championship with the Packers in 1961. He returned to the Giants as the NFL’s first Black full-time assistant coach and was the first Black player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tunnell died in 1975 at the age of 50.
“Here’s a guy who didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or break any glass ceilings,” Admiral Schultz added. “He was just a great human being who wanted to make a difference in the world.”
Tunnell’s jersey number with the New York Giants was 45, and this is the 45th fast response cutter used by the U.S. Coast Guard. It’s the first military ship to carry the name of a professional athlete.
The 154-foot Sentinel-class Emlen Tunnell will join three other Sentinel-class ships in the Arabian Gulf and homeport in Bahrain.
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