Duluth Coast Guard Buries One Of Their Own At Sea On Lake Superior

By KBJR News 1

July 17, 2013 Updated Jul 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) For soldiers, Airmen and Marines, being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery at the end of life is a top honor.

For Navy people and Coast Guardsmen, that top honor is sometimes burial at sea.

Wednesday morning, Duluth Coasties laid one of theirs to rest that way.

Coast Guard Station Duluth's 45 foot response boat goes out just about everyday for search and rescue, marine enforcement or simply training.
On Wednesday, it went out for a rare and somber mission.

The boat and her crew hit Lake Superior to bury retired Coastie John Mikwold at sea.

"John was an outright very nice guy. Forthright and always a great shipmate. He always worked overtime with you and was a nice guy to be around." said retired BMC Tom Erickson.

"He deployed down to Ground Zero just days after 9–11 happened. He's the only one from Duluth that was called up." said ME1 Kevin Rofidal.

Mikwold passed away in January and many of his Coast Guard shipmates were unable to attend his service.

That's why they arranged the burial at sea that pulled in friends and family from all over the country.

The Chaplain had to be flown in.

"We came in from Waukesha Wisconsin directly to Duluth." said Coast Guard Auxiliary pilot John Werner.

"He leadeth me beside still waters." said the Chaplain after Tom Erickson blew the boatswain whistle.

The Coast Guard is often asked about the regulations regarding burials at sea on the Great Lakes.

Such ceremonies are actually regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There is information on the EPA website. Basically, they have to be three miles out." said Rofidal.

After John Mikwold's ashes were spread on the waters of Lake Superior, his family was awed and humbled that their loved one's service friends jumped through the EPA hoops to arrange the burial at sea.

"I'm overwhelmed with what I saw. The family here in the Coast Guard is special. They took care of us and brought us out. I never expected to see any of this or have any of this happen." said John's brother Tom.

To legally bury someone's ashes at sea on the Great Lakes, you first fill out the proper paper work with the Environmental Protection Agency, find a spot at least three miles from shore and sprinkle the ashes on the water.

Urns and containers must be brought back to shore.

Dave Anderson