Outsiders are frequently left bewildered if asked to describe exactly what the Coast Guard does, at least without offering a gauche “guard the coast” quip.

If anything, the service’s intricate mission now appears even more perplexing after a scene that unfolded last week aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball.

About 40 crew members were enjoying a swim break — replete with an inflatable unicorn named Charles — in the western Pacific when a shark, estimated to be between six to eight feet long, tried to join the festivities.

Unfortunately for the oceanic resident, Coast Guard personnel are known to enforce a strict “We prefer to keep our limbs” policy.

So, as the shark neared the crew, Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel Cintron opened fire.

“Fortunately everyone safely cleared the water, and the shark appeared uninjured as it swam away,” officials said in a DoD release.

Everyone except Charles the inflatable unicorn.

Toward the end of the video we see a defenseless Charles cast aside by a careless crew member, a sacrificial lamb to Neptune’s slaughter.

One service member says over the radio that the shark is “heading out by the unicorn.” Another, off camera, implores the rifleman to “sink the unicorn.”

Thankfully, no shots ring out, and the unicorn floats away out of frame.

The Coast Guard has provided no updates on Charles’ whereabouts, but he is believed to have perished so that others might live.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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