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Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico - 1979 and 2001
Images and narratives submitted by Barry Hester

Please scroll-down. There is the complete story and also 5 photos.
Click-on each photo to enlarge.

3 December 1979   Bus Shooting tragedy
Here's some info and pics on the bus shooting tragedy.

The first pics are of the bus today (see photos below). It was buried under a mudslide from a nearby small hill and has 4 trees
that have fallen top of it, all caused by Hurricane Georges. It has been left by an abandoned bunker for many years. It is a
rusted hulk, falling apart, rotted and weather worn. As an aside, NCIS and FBI still consider the bus physical evidence as there
is no statute of limitations on murder. However, there's not much left.

Here's the list of folks on the bus. I don't believe it's accurate because supposedly there were 18 folks on the bus.
But this is from the Command's Newspaper the El Tiburon (The Shark)

In memory of our shipmates:
Here's the particulars about the personnel on the bus:
RM3 Emil E. White (Deceased) Posthumously awarded Purple Heart
CTO1 John R. Ball (Deceased) Posthumously awarded Purple Heart
CTRC Warren Smith (Wounded) Meritorious Service Medal/Purple Heart
CTT2 Cynthia C. Edwards (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTO3 Sandra L. Seaton (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTM3 Joseph R. Key (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTRSA Monique A. Ritter (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTRSN Bradley D. Clark (Wounded) Purple Heart
RM3 Cottie A. Allen (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTRSN Allen Bush (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTOSN Richard D. Sauter (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTM2 Debra J. Whitehurst (Wounded) Purple Heart
CTRSN Clifton Looney
RM3 Drusilla Penderghest
CTM2 Robert Minnick
CTM3 Gilbert Zuback II
CTTSN Kenneth Toman

This is from the command newspaper El Tiburon, dated 7 December 1989.

In Memorian

"In the aftermath of the tragic killing of two members of our commmunity, we reflect on their lives and on their significance to us.
John Ball and Emil White contributed much to Sabana Seca. John Ball was a practicing Christian, a runner, a man who gave
and loved, a man dedicated to health and to life. His personal relationships were full and rich; his marriage, close and strong,
was strengthened the more through the marriage encounter group to which John and Patti belonged. Emil White gave his time
and his talent to all of us here, performing disco shows, improving the quality of entertainment. A true professional, he was
involved with all facets of radio communications and constantly sought more knowledge and experience in his field. Emil was a
giver, a friend, a person whose willingness to help and whose interest in base morale and welfare enriched us all.

The tragedy occurred; the lives are lost. But our community can never lose the friendships, the help, the love they gave to us.
We can in our sorrow rejoice for their souls, and cherishing their memory, continue to live, to grow, to give, and to love as they

From the Congressional Report on Terrorism by Representative Dan Burton on President Clinton releasing and
pardoning FALN/Macheteros members who may have been involved in the shooting:

"Perhaps one of the more violent acts perpetrated by the Loa Macheteros, was the
3 December 1979 attack on a U.S. Navy bus near Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico,
that left two Sailors dead and ten wounded. At the time of the attack, the
bus was carrying 18 Navy enlisted personnel to a communications transmitter
on the eastern end of Puerto Rico. A Macheteros communiqué claiming credit
for the attack indicated that it was in reprisal for the death of an
independentista in a Florida prison. However, authorities ruled the prison
death a suicide after they found the prisoner had hanged himself in his
cell. Former Macheteros member Carlos Rodriguez implicated Juan Segarra
Palmer, who was granted clemency by the President, in the attack on the Navy
bus. Rodriguez told authorities that he attended a Macheteros meeting in
mid-November 1979 at which Segarra made an announcement that the Macheteros
would attack a Navy bus. The group had discussed attacking other military
institutions; however, it dismissed those plans in favor of the Navy bus.
Segarra planned and instructed others on the operation, including the orders
to shoot at the bus from a moving vehicle, while blocking the bus with
another vehicle. The Macheteros met three weeks after the attack to discuss
the operation. During the meeting Segarra evaluated the attack, and
commented that "while the operation had resulted in two dead, he felt the
results should have been more severe."

On a personal note, I was stationed with CTM2 Joe Key, who was shot on that bus.
Knew him at KamiSeya in 1982, I believe he's retired..


The command's Enlisted Club is named after Emil White (he was from St Thomas, his death outraged the Caribbean).
The command's Gym complex is named after John Ball.

Photos taken by Barry Hester - 2001
Front of the bus buried under trees, mud and brush. Chaplain Adams stands near the back of the buried bus.

Bullet holes are still visible, but rotting away. Rear tail lights of the bus.

Part of the door, falling apart

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