It certainly beat out the Army or Marines! But I didn’t think I was smart enough for the Air Force, and besides that, my retired Air Force Master Sergent dad retired to Southern California, so I naturally became a beach and water lover. The US Coast Guard fit like a glove!
Service Reflections of SSG Kevin Lipinski, U.S. Army (2002-2018)
I wanted to serve my country, but it took about a year after 9-11 to decide, and I was still on the fence, so I did the National Guard first, and I found out I loved it and went active. I also have a strong family military tradition that is important to me. As they say, the rest is history
Service Reflections of Maj Robert Hayden, U.S. Air Force (1964-1985)
Two different reasons or experiences. While I was a small lad, we lived about 90 miles from Wichita, where my grandmother and great-grandmother lived. Immediately after WWII, when I was about four years old, we would drive up to visit them and would drive by the line after line of B-29’s, huge and shiny, that the Boeing company had built but not delivered to the military for the war. I still remember thinking how neat it would be to get to fly one of those airplanes.
Service Reflections of Capt Frank Farr, U.S. Army Air Corps (1943-1945)
I was born in a tiny apartment somewhere behind the screen of a movie theater in Picher, Oklahoma, on March 3, 1924. I am told that as my mother’s labor pains intensified and came more frequently, the theater owner/manager sent the patrons home and locked the doors so she could have some privacy in her travails. My father was working in the mines in and around Picher, which was booming in the 1920s, and the little apartment was the only residence they could find at the time.Despite them being similarly reserved and not the type of men to brag, I could hardly wait to visit them so I could beg them to tell me war stories. The experiences they shared with me made a lasting impression during my early childhood, which further aroused my desire to serve my country.
Service Reflections of CAPT James Garrett, U.S. Navy (1966-2008)
I was graduating from Westminster High School in a few months (1966) and knowing that I would not be able to afford college, I thought enlisting in the military would be a good thing, especially if it was possible to get college paid for afterwards. Being landlocked and with Lowery Air Force Base across town, the recruiting ads I thought the Air Force might be a good place to go. The Air Force recruiter came to my house to talk with me but to my amazement the recruiter told me there was a waiting list, imagine that with the Vietnam War going on.
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.
Service Reflections of SSgt Jimmy Carlisle, U.S. Marine Corps (1965-1978)
To leave home when I turned 18 to get away from a noncaring father and an abusive stepmother. I was one of six children that were not allowed to go past the 8th grade in school and were put to work year-round to earn money for parents. Four of my brothers and sisters left home the day they turned 18, and I was gone two weeks later as soon as I could join the Corps.
Service Reflections of SFC Joseph Wilson, Jr., U.S. Army (1967-1990)
My father was a WWII Navy veteran (1945-47). In 1964 – 65 I became a Cadet with the Civil Air Patrol in the Borah Cadet Squadron in Boise, Idaho, and later with the Gowen Field Cadet Squadron also in Boise, Idaho.Despite them being similarly reserved and not the type of men to brag, I could hardly wait to visit them so I could beg them to tell me war stories. The experiences they shared with me made a lasting impression during my early childhood, which further aroused my desire to serve my country.
Service Reflections of SSgt Eugene Delalla, U.S. Air Force (1965-1968)
In reality, my first choice of military service was the Army. This was back in ’64. Then, as fate or providence would have it, an Air Force recruiter came to my high school (in the Bronx, NY); from that point on, I began planning my entry when graduation came in ’65.
Service Reflections of Cpl Barry McDown, U.S. Marine Corps (1969-1971)
Within 90 days after Richard Nixon was inaugurated, he sent me an excellent thank you note for being 19 and indicating that he would be pleased if I would show up for work. He very much insisted I report for the draft.
Service Reflections of GMG3 Ronnie Gregory, U.S. Navy (1971-1975)
When I became aware that I was not interested in finishing college in my sophomore year, I sought out the local Coast Guard recruiter, but they were not looking for entry-level recruits at that time. As my draft number was low and I was soon to be status 1A, Dad had served in the Navy in WWII, so I talked to the Navy recruiter and enlisted in December 1971.
Service Reflections of MST3 John Loughrey, U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1973)
Three things influenced my decision to join the Coast Guard.
First, I had just graduated from high school and did not have the drive to attend college.