CWO2 Shannon Reck U.S. Coast Guard (1990-Present)
Read the service reflections us US Coast Guardsman:
CWO2 Shannon Reck
U.S. Coast Guard
Service Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Reck
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PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?
When joining the Marine Corps, I made the mistake of going into the Reserves, versus full time. It was explained to me that by picking the Reserves, I was making the safe choice because if I loved the service, I could always roll into the active side. If it was
not for me, it was only one weekend a month. Well, no joke, I loved it. However, it was not as easy to get onto active duty as I thought. Basically after a year and a half of appealing up the chain to return to active duty, I was denied.
In early 1992, I was informed that the Coast Guard was taking prior service members and that it was possible to lateral over from the Marine Corps Reserves, right to the Coast Guard active duty side. I did not even know what the Coast Guard was at the time. I thought it was a sort of “Navy National Guard”. Regardless, I took the plunge, and did most of my enlistment paperwork via the mail and fax. I did not even see what the Coast Guard uniform looked like until I showed up in Boot Camp in May of 1992. Let’s just say that I was excited that we did not wear the Navy uniform.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
I am still on active duty. I was a machine-gunner and anti-tank Infantryman in the Marines. I decided to go a different direction in the Coast Guard. I chose the medical route, after much consideration, because I wanted to be trained in something that held some value in the civilian world. Another reason I wanted to become a Corpsman is that I felt that they had the greatest chance of being in the action. I missed out on deployments during my time in the Marines and wanted to have some stories of my own from the Coast Guard.
Twenty-four years into my career, I can say that I saw my share of action and have many stories to tell those interested. Between two cutters, two tours in Iraq, and my recent involvement with the Ebola response, I can honestly say that I was able to make an impact. I am still active duty and hope to have more adventures. Only the future can tell what lays ahead in the coming years.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.
I was assigned to Patrol Forces South West Asia in the summer of 2003. During my two consecutive tours there, the most significant time I remember was when I was allowed to go on a patrol with the CGC ADAK. This patrol’s mission was to provide security to the oil terminals just off shore of Iraq and to scout the Iraqi river system. My main job at PATFORSWA was to provide medical care to Coast Guard, Naval, and Marine members in the AOR.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My favorite assignments include PATFORSWA and my time on the CGC CONFIDENCE and CGC BERTHOLF. I love the operational units. While assigned to them, I felt as if I were making a contribution to the nation. My least favorite assignment, well, I love them all. The only difference is that some were more monumental than others for me. The CONFIDENCE was a great tour because we visited just about every Caribbean country and port, including a few that were not inhabited. I got my first tattoo while on board this Cutter, in the Dominican Republic.
PATFORSWA was great for me because it was the first time I was able to deploy to a forward combat support unit. I felt as if I were a part of something of international relevance. Also during this tour, I was able to complete a combat river patrol in Iraq on the CGC ADAK.
My final Cutter was the CGC BERTHOLF. The highlight for me was the completion of a couple patrols with the Russian Coast Guard and Navy. The BERTHOLF was the first in the National Security Cutter class of ship. I was assigned to it two days before the first operational patrol. It was a real honor breaking new ground on this ship, knowing that my input and contributions would be used on the following Cutters of this class.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
I would say that the tour that impacted me the most was my time over in the Middle East. While over there, I noticed an attempt to survey the base by people later identified to be enemy agents. This was scary for me because I was walking alone at 2300 to my watch station outside the gate and came across a van tucked in the shadows of two buildings. Since I was in Bahrain at the time, we were unarmed unless on watch on board our ships. Anyway, right about the time I noticed them, they saw me at the same time and pulled out to depart. On their way out, they passed me in the drive way and gave me the dirtiest angry look I have ever seen made toward another. Since they were driving a panel van, I had no idea if they were going to pull me in, blow themselves up, or etc. Anyway, I was able to memorize the plate number and immediately report the incident to the gate guard supervisor.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
My highest award actually is not worn on the uniform. I was selected as the Coast Guard’s 1999 Corpsman of the Year, Afloat, for the entire service. I was assigned to the CGC CONFIDENCE at the time. I received the award for the 100% compliance results for CART and TSTA
the year before, my part in a high profile rescue at sea, and the treatment of foreign citizens in a foreign port.
I am also very proud of my Coast Guard Commendation Medal that I received on the CGC BERTHOLF. The high point on that Cutter for me was my assistance of a newly commissioned Nigerian navy ship in setting up its sickbay and medical training program.
Of all of my promotions, I am most proud of my making Senior Chief and Warrant Officer. My initial goals when I joined the Coast Guard in 1992 was to make Chief. Now that I have exceeded that initial goal, I have my sights on making Commander before I retire. We shall see how long it takes to meet that milestone.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
The Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal Medal is important to me because I earned it while assigned under the Navy in PATFORSWA. It was awarded for my time on the CGC ADAK and for the medical care provided during my independent duty tour, treating close to eight hundred Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps members.
I am also very proud of my Cutterman Pin. The Coast Guard Cutterman Pin is award for five years of sea time. This is not an easy feat for Corpsmen due to the lack of ships large enough for them to serve on board. Many Corpsmen have one three year tour on a Cutter in their careers, but most will not do two.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
FSC Jeffery Lawton was my first and most substantial role model. He selflessly took the time to train and mentor me during my first years in the Coast Guard. He had my back when I went through some personal crisis’ as well.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
I was reverted in Boot Camp for not being able to adapt well with my transition from the Marines to the Coast Guard. My Senior Drill Instructor, a YN1, informed me at graduation that I would not make a very good leader or Petty Officer. She was kicked out a few years later for drug possession. I thought it ironic when I pinned on Senior Chief and then Chief Warrant Officer.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
I completed my BA in March of 2015. My goal is to have a MA by the time I retire so that I can either teach history in a Community College or perhaps find a nice government position for a second career. My BA is in history and my MA will be in Military History.
At this time, I am a Medical Chief Warrant Officer 2. I was commissioned in June of 2014, after making Senior Chief the year before. I am currently in charge of medical contracts and working with the Coast Guard Medical Information systems branch at Headquarters. I am submitting a package to request advancement to Lieutenant as soon as possible.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am a member of The Coast Guard Together We Served, Veterans of Foreign Wars, but do not attend meetings. I am a reformed smoker and cannot handle the smoky halls anymore. I am placing an application this week to become a member of the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
I can tell you that it has made me bolder and more self confident. Before joining, I was likely to take a lot of crap, whereas now, I don’t. It taught me judgement and discipline as well. I can definitely say that if it were not for the military, I would not be the person I am today.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?
Do your homework before signing with any branch. Do not let anyone sway you from your goals and further your education whenever possible,
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
I am still figuring that out now. It has helped me stay connected with friends who I have not heard of in a long time. Togetherweserved helps me know the locations of many of my friends I served with. I am thankful that it opens up a way for me to express my thoughts and opinions to those who knew me.