Vance Bunker, Hero
Two decades ago today, on the stormy night of January 16, 1992, the tugboat Harkness went down in the deep waters off Matinicus, Maine’s most remote inhabited island. The tug’s three-man crew abandoned ship and bobbed in the frigid North Atlantic, thinking they were about to die. But they didn’t know Captain Vance Bunker and two of his island friends were looking for them. I re-tell this story in my book Tough Island. But, today, in honor of the 20th anniversary of this dramatic rescue, I've recorded an audio version of the tale. (click here to listen vance.mp3) I hope you enjoy a story with a happy ending.
I’ll always view Vance Bunker as a hero. I witnessed Vance performing acts of kindness and generosity even before the tugboat sank. So after the 2009 shooting when many thought he was a villain, I was angry. From my perspective, he was a man who needed to protect his family. And the jury ultimately agreed. But the damage is done and Vance is no longer welcome on Matinicus. It saddens me that such a great man can be forced from his ancestral home by a bunch of thugs and hoodlums. But that’s the ugly reality of life in many parts of remote and rural Maine.