Welcome to Starship 402 Memorial Taps Scholarship

About Us

Our History


Introduction by  Robert A. Morris SSgt USMC (Ret)          

The Starship 402 Memorial Taps Scholarship was started after I read in a USA Today article that since 2000, recordings of Taps were being played at military funerals. I consider that unacceptable. 

Starship 402 was the callsign of a United States Marine Corps CH-53A Sea Stallion attached to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 777-(REIN), operating from the amphibious assault ship USS Guadalcanal, LPH-7 as a composite squadron.

After completing a mission to shore, delivering 25 Marines and a jeep, the tail gearbox failed and the aircraft crashed in the North Sea, killing all 5 aboard. The Pilot, Capt. William H. "Sonny" Coke, Co-Pilot Capt James B. Huff, Crew Chief SSgt. Gary J. "Butch" Lester, my friend Sgt. Timothy A. "Tim" Creighton, and our chaplain, Navy Cdr. David R. Morrison.

Our Mission


The mission of the Starship 402 Memorial Taps Scholarship is to encourage young musicians to volunteer with Bugles Across America and play Taps at military funerals, and to remember those that gave their lives in peacetime, as well as in war. 

For motivational music while viewing this website, click here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBXbQSu0UOo


  1. High School Senior, or early graduate.
  2. Volunteer for Bugles Across America.
  3. Play Taps at military funerals.
  4. Return proof of Bugles Across America "missions" completed to starship402.org. 
  5. Submit a 500 word essay, double spaced, on the value of peacetime military service to starship402.org.

A scholarship for a High School Senior or early graduate will be awarded each year. The funds can be used for tuition, music lessons, or to repair or refurbish a musical instrument. 

If you are interested in volunteering, go to www.buglesacrossamerica.org/Registration

USS Guadalcanal LPH 7

The USS Guadalcanal was an amphibious assault ship.


The Mission Patch

Operation Northern Wedding - Bold Guard


The mission patch identifies the squadrons that sent aircraft and their home stations, and the ship we operated from. The five gold stars represent the five men that were killed. This was a peacetime NATO mission.

The Composite Squadron


Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 777 - (REIN)

HMH-777 -(REIN) was a composite squadron consisting of 4 CH-53A Sea Stallions from NAS Dallas, 4 AH-1J Cobra gunships from Atlanta, and 4 UH-1N Huey utility helicopters from New Orleans. Each aircraft was identified in it's home squadron by the squadron callsign plus the modex, the number usually on the nose area. The Dallas squadron sent aircraft 400, 401, 402 and 405. LtCol. N. A. Snider assigned the callsigns of Starship, Starshooter, and Starshuttle respectively.


Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 777

HMH-777 was stationed at Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas.


The Aircraft

Left to right, the AH-1J Cobra gunship, callsign Starshooter, UH-1N Huey, callsign Starshuttle, and the CH-53A Sea Stallion, callsign Starship

The Crew


Captain William H. "Sonny" Coke

William Harold "Sonny" Coke was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He was the Pilot of Starship 402. He was born on August 27th, 1947 and was from Fort Worth Texas. He was 35.


Captain James B. Huff

James Byron Huff was a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He was the Co-Pilot of Starship 402. He was born on January 17th, 1951 and was from Bremerton Washington. He was 32.


Staff Sergeant Gary J. "Butch" Lester

Gary Joe "Butch" Lester was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. He was an Aircraft Navigation Systems Technician, and the Crew Chief for Starship 402. He was born on July 18th 1957 and was from Plano Texas. He was 25.


Sergeant Timothy A. "Tim" Creighton

Timothy Allen "Tim" Creighton was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. He was a Helicopter Power Plants Mechanic and the First Mechanic for Starship 402. He was born on July 23rd 1959 and was from Brockton Massachusetts. He was 23.

Sgt Timothy A.Creighton, known as Timmy to his family. Husband of Mary (Pennor); father of 8 month old daughter Tarah; was born July 23rd 1959 in Brockton Massachusetts to Reginald and Virginia Creighton. Oldest brother to Patrick and Sean. Tim early enlisted in United States Marine Corps in his senior year of high school at Southeastern Regional Vo - Tech High School, graduating from Commercial Foods in June 1977. He loved to cook especially with his mother and Gram. He also tinkered and repaired small engines, which his father taught him to do thus taking him to helicopter engines.

He completed boot camp at Parris Island and schooling in Memphis Tennesee to become a crew chief on CH 53 Sea Stallions. He was then stationed in  USMCAS, Kaneohe, Hawaii. Tim completed a Pacific tour; returning to Brockton MA to marry Mary on December 14th 1979. Mary then joined Tim in Hawaii where they resided for 2 years.

Sgt Creighton re - enlisted for 4 more years taking him and his wife to Dallas Naval Air Station, Texas. They resided in Grand Prairie waiting for the birth of their 1st child due in January. A daughter was born on January 23rd 1982.


Commander David R. Morrison

David Richard Morrison was a Commander in the United States Navy. He was the Chaplain for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 777. He was born on July 25th 1935 and was from Round Rock, Texas. He was 47.


Thank You For Supporting This Valuable Cause

Presentation Level donors may personally award a scholarship. 

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card
Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

A Gold Star Level donation will entitle the donor to a one year memorial on this website for a passed service member.

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card
Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card
Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

Special Thanks

Thank You to John Gwartney and everyone at Minuteman Press at 940 N. Beltline Rd. #133 in Irving, Texas.

Your generous donation of time, material, and most of all creativity and expertise, has made this project a reality. No amount of thanks could begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for what you have done. Your many hours spent creating and editing the promotional material that formed the basis of this site are invaluable.

Register a High School, Submit an Essay, or Submit a Mission

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Starship 402 Memorial Taps Scholarship

(214) 957-7437