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April 5, 2005

Memorial service planned for missing boater

From: Myrtle Beach Sun News - Myrtle Beach,SC,USA - Apr 5, 2005

Family and friends will come together Saturday to tell Johnny Wayne Brown goodbye.

The life of the 38-year-old Conway commercial fisherman will be celebrated at 1 p.m. at Calvary Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church in Conway, said Brenda Brown, his mother.

On Monday, a Coast Guard official said Brown's body had still not been found. Coast Guard personnel looked for Brown, missing since Saturday morning, nearly 26 hours off the coast of North Carolina before suspending their search Sunday.

"We are confident we have done everything in our power to try to find Johnny," said Petty Officer Donnie Brzuska, a spokesman for the Coast Guard Fifth District Command in Portsmouth, Va. "And unfortunately, we didn't."

Brown; Tony Bessent, his brother-in-law; and Gary McCombs were tossed into the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 miles off shore from Cape Fear, N.C., while aboard a 50-foot boat called the Tracy Lynn.

The men had been at sea for about a week fishing for grouper and snapper when a 30- to 40-foot wave toppled the vessel about 9 a.m. Saturday.

Bessent and McCombs survived.

Brenda Brown said her grief is fresh, yet knowing that her son was doing what he loved helps soothe her sorrow.

"The day he was getting ready to go on that trip he was jumping all around like a little kid seeing Santa Claus," she said. "Johnny was so happy."

Brown was a deaf-mute who usually used sign language to speak. One of the last things he said, according to his sister, Lisa Bessent, was "Tell Sam I love her." Sam was his fiancee; they were to marry June 11.

From staff reports

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