Coast Guard Reflections

Service Reflections of CAPT David Edling, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1999)

Service Reflections of CAPT David Edling, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1999)

I completed two tours of duty as a Naval Officer serving aboard the USS Duncan DD-874 and the USS Lipan ATF-85 before considering service in the U. S. Coast Guard. Both of those shipboard tours included deployments to Vietnam, the first in 1970 and the second in 1972. I liked the Navy. I had been designated a Distinguished Naval Graduate on commissioning from the NROTC program at Oregon State University, which meant a Regular USN commission. Both of my initial shipboard tours were excellent experiences because I served under very competent Commanding Officers, and my shipmates on both ships were guys used to form my abilities and competencies as a sea service officer.

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Service Reflections of LCDR Stephen Goodman, U.S. Coast Guard (1966-1983)

Service Reflections of LCDR Stephen Goodman, U.S. Coast Guard (1966-1983)

It was the autumn of 1965, and I was at my first job after graduating from college in May. I was in a Wall Street training program with about five others who were preparing for the securities industry exams to become registered. One of the other trainees was biding his time as he had been accepted by the Navy for OCS and planned to go to Newport in the coming spring. We talked a lot about the different branches of service, and he tried to convince me to apply for Navy OCS. This was as we were approaching the height of the Vietnam War; all my friends were searching for reserve units that would accept them to avoid being drafted. Three friends joined the Coast Guard Reserve and found themselves together at boot camp in Cape May. I preferred to serve as an officer, and so I considered the officer candidate opportunities available. I have always loved the water, so I reduced it to the Navy or Coast Guard. One day in late 1965, during lunchtime, I walked from work to the US Customs House in lower Manhattan, where the Coast Guard District Office was. I spoke with a young officer about the Coast Guard’s mission and was given a brochure and the OCS application paperwork to take home.

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Service Reflections of MST2 Edmund Reardon, U.S. Coast Guard (1977-1981)

Service Reflections of MST2 Edmund Reardon, U.S. Coast Guard (1977-1981)

In the 1970s, while trying to complete my undergraduate degree at Penn State Univ., I ended up on the Dean’s “other” list. With my academic career teetering on failure, I became interested in other options for my future.

The original GI Bill was in place but would soon be changed to the newer version where matching funds were promised. I delayed-enlisted before the deadline at the Pittsburgh, PA recruiting office, which offered billets for either Cape May, NJ, or Alameda, CA. Interested in further travel, I opted for CA.

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Service Reflections of CWO3 Joe Loiseau, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1990)

Service Reflections of CWO3 Joe Loiseau, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1990)

In 1968-69, I was in my senior year of high school when the Vietnam War was still raging. I knew the likelihood of being drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam was pretty good. I neither wanted to go into the Army nor to Vietnam. My best option was to check out the U.S. Coast Guard. That’s when I discovered there was a six-month waiting list for the Coast Guard. I went down to the Coast Guard recruiting station in January 1969, signed the enlistment papers and continued my high school education.

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Service Reflections of ETC James Fort, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard (1972-1992)

Service Reflections of ETC James Fort, Jr., U.S. Coast Guard (1972-1992)

My dad was the major influence on my joining the Coast Guard. He was part of a forward Army recon unit that was captured at the Battle of the Bulge after expanding all their ammunition. His unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, and he earned a Bronze Star for his actions there. My dad also fought in the Korean war earning awards for his actions there.

The Army was going to send him off to Vietnam when that conflict started, and he opted to retire with twenty-three years of service at that time. My dad thought that Vietnam was a war run by politicians instead of Generals and convinced me that the Coast Guard was the best service to go into. Of course, neither of us knew at the time that there were more Coasties killed (percentage-wise) in WWII and the Vietnam war than any other service.

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Service Reflections of BM1 Alvin O’Brien, U.S. Coast Guard (1996-2012)

Service Reflections of BM1 Alvin O’Brien, U.S. Coast Guard (1996-2012)

I had graduated high school and had no desire to continue my education. I started working in the “Chemical Plants” for a 3rd party contractor. After about three months, I was laid off. I told myself this was not the life for me to live.

I looked at the Armed Services, more particularly the Air Force. My dad mentioned the USCG, and I said who? He said USCG. I see them guys drive boats up and down the Houston Ship Channel all the time and issue tickets for missing bolts on flanges over the water. So we decided to see a recruiter. When he showed me the recruiting video of a 44 MLB crashing through the surf, I said that is what I want to do. He said sign here, and the rest is history.

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Service Reflections of MKCS George III Shoffstall , U.S. Coast Guard (1973-1994)

Service Reflections of MKCS George III Shoffstall , U.S. Coast Guard (1973-1994)

I had every intention of joining the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man after HS graduation. I didn’t have the grades to entertain the academy appointment process. My father and his two brothers voluntarily enlisted in the Navy at the outset of the Korean Conflict in 1950. Two served on New Jersey class battleships, and my father trained as an Aviation Electricians mate assigned to a tactical squadron in country.

My aspirations took a slight course change in the spring of my senior year. One day I received a long-distance call from a friend and former classmate. He had been looking into joining the Coast Guard after graduation and mentioned maybe enlisting as teammates in what was called the buddy program. Being a kid from central PA, I hadn’t heard or even considered the CG.

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