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Posts from the ‘Voices of Coasties’ Category

29
Mar

TCCM Dennis White U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1972-1998)

profile2Read the service reflections of

TCCM Dennis White

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1972-1998)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/16048

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

In my late elementary school years I took and interest in aviation. I would check out books from the public library and read the principles of flight and aeronautics. In my junior high years, this developed into a dream of becoming a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard. Growing upin San Diego, my family spent many afternoons fishing off the rocks in San Diego bay around Shelter Island. We would drive past the Coast Guard Air Station San Diego which had its own traffic light that would stop traffic on Harbor Drive when a C-130 or old Albatross sea plane would taxi from the Coast Guard base to the international airport runways. In my junior year of high school I spoke with the Coast Guard recruiter in San Diego about my plans. But my dream of becoming a pilot was quickly squashed when I learned that my eye sight was not good enough. Undaunted, I simply lowered my sights a bit and looked to another field I was studying, marine biology. I learned of the Marine Science Technician rate in the Coast Guard which caught my attention. I joined up soon after graduating high school, taking the entrance exam in October. The recruiter called me and asked when I wanted to go to boot camp. I told him I would like to spend the holidays at home first. I arrived at the Alameda Training Center on January 2nd! By the end of boot camp, another rate caught my eye, one which was a long time hobby, radio. And there where two opening for Radioman school. One was mine!

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?

Starting in junior high, I had a hobby of building Heathkit radios. I started with a simple AM/FM set, then an analog FM/VHF radio, and then stepping up to a crystal controlled VHF scanner. I also had a large portable short wave radio that I would tune in the world with at night, our aluminum mobile home awning serving as my antenna. I went into boot camp hoping to become a Marine Science Technician. But when I had an opportunity to look more closely at the MST rate, I saw that I would probably not be that happy just being someone who simply gathered info but didn’t really get into any marine research. I graduated boot camp as Hotel-83 Honorman, so I had first pick of the available schools out of my company. When I saw two openings for Radioman school, the proverbial light bulb in my brain came one, and I was off to Petaluma to become a Radioman. I never regretted that decision! My 26.5 year career took me from vacuum tubes and dials to IC chips, computer monitors, and push buttons!

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.

The morning of January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger sat on a launch pad in freezing temperatures. The USCGC Dallas entered The Tongue of the Ocean off Andros Island, Bahamas for exercise torpedo drills. The Dallas had just come off a long patrol in the Caribbean. We had leftour homeport of New York a little over two months ago, and had been on patrol through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. All we had to do now was work with a navy nuclear submarine, fire off some exercise torpedoes, and then we could head for home and families. It was late morning as we headed for the exercise area, then the ship’s loudspeakers came on with “Officers call, officers call. All hands to quarters.” Strange; we usually had Officers call right after lunch. Why now? As we a gathered on the flight deck, the two gas turbines could be heard coming on line. This meant something was up! The ship’s company was soon informed of the tragic explosion of the Shuttle Challenger, and the CGC Dallas was to “proceed at best possible speed” and assume On-scene Commander for the rescue and recovery operations. The CGC Dallas was soon throwing a ten foot rooster tail of water as we left Andros Island at full speed. What followed was two weeks of long hard days and nights for the Dallas crew members. The area was soon full of Coast Guard, Navy and NASA vessels as part of the recovery operations. Plus, the area was soon further crowded my private vessels carrying news reporters and crews. It was the CGC Dallas’ job as On Scene Commander to coordinate all the efforts of not only the surface vessels, but also the numerous aircraft in the area. The bridge crew and Combat Information Center (CIC) handled the voice communications with vessels and aircraft. The radio room was busy sending and receiving long situation reports (SITREPs) every four hours. These administrative and coordinating duties were daunting enough, but the Dallas was also very much into the physical efforts of recovery. During day light hours, both of our small boats were in the water collecting the bits and pieces, both large and small, which were scattered over and ever increasing search area. All this “evidence” from both our own small boats, and other surface vessels was collected onto our flight deck. Each piece had to be tagged for identification purposes with information such as time and location it was found, and a unique number. We collected everything from booster rocket nose cones to small pieces of gold foil, plus dangerous fuel canisters. The small boat operators were “In the saddle” so long, they all soon had painful blisters on their inner thighs. As soon as the sun would go down, the Dallas would head into Port Canaveral, set special sea detail, tie up to the NASA pier, off load our days load of “evidence”, set special sea detail, and head back out to the scene to be ready to do it again starting at first light. If you were lucky, you could catch 2 to 4 hours of sleep on the trip back out to the scene. This routine went on for about 2 weeks. But despite the long hours of hard work, the extension of our already long patrol, and the lack of sleep, I never saw the crew of the CGC Dallas with higher morale and dedication to duty. Unit and individual awards from the Coast Guard and from NASA followed. I remember late one night as we were off loading at Port Canaveral, two astronauts came into the radio room as we were preparing the final situation report for the day. I only remember that one of them, Astronaut William Shepherd. They thanked us for the hard work we were doing and told us just how much they appreciated it. It was very touching, knowing that they too must have been going through a lot of emotional stress themselves.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

The same station was both – Coast Guard Radio Station Honolulu. Fondest memories: This was back in the day of open bay barracks. I was a young, single, and at my first true duty station. You quickly developed a comradery with the other operators in your duty section. We wereon the front lines in saving lives and property at sea. We received the frantic and scared calls for help from large tankers to the weekend pleasure boater. Calls came in as voice calls over Channel 16, SOS’s over CW on 500 KHz. CG Radio Station Honolulu (call sign NMO) prided itself on not missing a call for help. You quickly had to learn to remain calm yourself as you handled distress calls for fires at sea, amputated limbs, sinking vessels, and just plain scared seamen riding out a hurricane. And of course, the fondness for the duty station may also have something to do with the fact that I met my future wife while stationed here!

It was also my least favorite because of the leadership we served under. (I will not mention any names.) Our CO and XO were both warrant officers. The XO was an alcoholic. Many a time, on of the mid-watch duty section men would be called to a local bar to drive the XO home. When he was semi-sober, he a real hard nosed person, handing out extra duty hours for even the simplest infractions of log keeping. The CO either didn’t know, or didn’t care about the conduct of his XO. Oh well, you do the extra duty, say “Sir yes Sir”, and ride out the storm.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

My most personal impact of life altering events happened there at CG Radio Station Honolulu, my best and worst duty station. In our duty section, there occurred an on-going debate between two in our section who had gotten into Scientology and two of our section chiefs who were Christians. Iwould listen in on these debates, trying not to get involved. But God had other plans! The best meal in the Navy galley was mid-rations, or “midrats”. They would serve left overs from dinner, or you could have an omelet made to order by a cook that was a real master of his art! (The Coast Guard Radio Station was co-located on the US Navy Communications Station.) One night after getting off of the eve-watch, I headed to the galley for midrats. I sat down at a table with my food, and this young skinny navy dude sat down across the table from me and ask me “If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?” He didn’t wait for an answer, just got up and left. A couple of nights later, this same navy man did the exact same thing. I never saw or heard from him again. Just a few days later, I got an invitation that no single guy living in the barracks could pass up. My section chief invited me to his house for Easter dinner, home cooked by his wife, in a house off the base. All I had to do for this wonderful meal away from the military was to go with his family to Easter services at his church. So on Easter Sunday of 1974 I found myself sitting on a pew in the Wahiawa Christian Church. My section chief, RMC Doug Peterson, and his wife Roberta, didn’t put any pressure on me by trying to “convert” me. They invited me into their home and we had an enjoyable and pleasant day. But that day was really a joy to me. I got to met people other than military types, and they were all so warm and pleasant to me. I wanted to come back! I was usually accompanied to church my one of my room mates RM3 Roy Ludwig. (By now we had moved out of the open bay barracks and into three man rooms. Whoopee!) After a couple of months of studying God’s Word with my new found friends, I was ready to make a decision which would set my course for the rest of my life. One night, while lying in my bed in our three man room, I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. I prayed silently that night for forgiveness and acknowledged my complete surrender to Jesus. I drifted off into a pleasant sleep. Around 7 a.m. the three of us got up to get ready for the day watch. The very first words spoken that morning was from the third man in our room, RM3 Larry Dinger. Larry looked at us as we all stood there in our underwear, and said, “What happened to you two?” Roy and I looked at each other, and we both realized we had both accepted the Lord earlier that night, with our the other having known about it! But Larry knew there was now something very different about us!

Wahiawa Christian Church was a small local church. It had no baptistery, so they held their baptisms in the ocean on the north shore of Oahu. Great things were happening at this small church. Sunday filled the small church and overflow was seated outside on the lawn. The south side of the building had sliding walls that could open the whole building up. So many people were coming to the Lord that every two weeks they would have a baptism picnic on the beach, with about a dozen baptisms happening each time. Our pastor was an active duty navy chief yeoman who was soon to retire. I got baptized there in the surf that day. Afterwards everyone had a grand time with a picnic and games. Chief Peterson came up to me during the picnic and asked a favor of me. He told me of a girl who was a radioman in the navy, and she needed someone to show her around the island. As a favor to him, would I give her a call some time and show her around. I reluctantly said yes. A couple weeks later I was playing tour guide to RM3 Mary Kerr, USN. A year later we were married! A couple of months after we were married, we were going through some of Mary’s photos from Hawaii. She had taken just one picture of someone getting baptized. That picture was of me! Taken before we had even be introduced! So God took me to Hawaii to meet Him and my wife!

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 
What achievements make me proud? What do I look back on the most? It was accomplishments that I never got medals or awards for. It was the satisfaction and pride I achieved from being able to lead others that were under my watch. Being radioman-in-charge on the CGC Dallas and at CG Group Los Angeles/Long Beach. Being able to work closely with the staff at Pacific Area/Maritime Defense Zone Pacific. My pride comes more from the relationships I made in the service rather than from my own accomplishments. I tried to treat enlisted and officer with equal respect and courtesy. My son is currently serving in the Air Force, and I have many other friends from other services. And I don’t know of any better service to have been a part of were you can share such a wonderful sense of serving together. The Coast Guard was truly like a family to me.

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?

You should see my “awards wall” at home! It’s full of plaques and memorabilia. A great shadow box presented to me upon retirement from my shipmates and ESU Cleveland. Plaques from PACAREA, CGC Dallas, Group LA/LB, Certificates of appreciation from NASA, North Coast CPOA, our church in Long Beach, andmy diploma from the Chief’s Academy. But on top of them all, right up near the ceiling, there is mounted one small wooden plaque with a cheap brass colored engraved plate. My Honorman award from my boot camp company, Hotel 83. I received it from the hand of Alex Haley. At the time I had no idea who this man was. It wasn’t until years later that I learned of Mr. Haley. But it wasn’t who I received it from that makes it meaningful. It’s because it was the first real accomplishment I was recognized for. It represented the fact that I could rise above and face all the coming challenges of service with confidence. You just keep your head above water, your eyes and ears open, and do the best you can!

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Personally, it would be RMC Douglas Peterson who loved and cared enough about me to draw me away from Scientology into the arms of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Professionally, it was Captain Carl Luck of the CGC Dallas. CAPT Luck was a strong leader, an expert seaman, and was always very fair yet firm in his dealings with those in his command. He was a fine example of true leadership for me.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.
I find it curious that most of the friends I remember by name are from either my first or last duty stations. After my basic and A school training, my first station was Radio Station Honolulu. RMC Douglas Peterson was my watch section chief. Doug was a compassionate leader who was very professional on watch, but also cared enough about the young men he led. He would invite the young single men in his section over the his house on occasion for a home cooked meal and some quality time of really getting to know you. I still communicate with him, especially since he introduced me to my wife! There at RADSTA Honolulu (NMO), I still remember my two room mates, Larry Dinger and Roy Ludwig. I found Roy recently on facebook, but have not heard from Larry since Honolulu. Facebook is great! I also recently reconnected with two shipmates from CCGDNine Cleveland, my last duty station. Debi and Scott Morris worked closely with me in the communications center.

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?
As a new member of the watch section at Radio Station Honolulu, I soon fell in with a group of guys who shared my love of snorkeling and scuba diving. We all decided to do a night dive on the east side of Oahu. The shortest way there was driving through Scofield Barracks and over Lualualei pass which meant driving a small winding road on the base. But this road also had a legend attached to it about a ghostly specter of a female hitch hiker that would appear on the road, and then appear in your car! As we drove this dark lonely road, freaking ourselves out with ghostly stories of spirit hitch hikers and US Marines who had taken their own lives at the guard post atop the pass, we were suddenly met with two glowing eyes in the middle of the road! The horror was quickly replaced with laughter as we got closer and saw it was just a cow! The night dive went off uneventful.

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 retired out of the Ninth Coast Guard District offices in Cleveland Ohio. We moved to Spokane Washington, my wife’s home state. We purchased a ten acre parcel of land to build on which was an old alfalfa field. I took on a part time job at the local Radio Shack to help with the expenses and pay for our rental in town while the land was being prepared for our home. I stayed there five years until my wife Mary got a good paying job.

We joined a local Christian congregation at Westgate Christian Church. I have made serving at Westgate my second career. I have served there as a deacon, elder, and member of the school board. I am also the current IT Technology Leader and head sound technician. My training in the Coast Guard, both as Radioman and Leadership training at the Chief’s Academy has served me well in these positions. Serving in these areas is a true passion for me.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I currently carry memberships in the USCG CPOA and the American Military Society. They serve as my voice in Washington D.C. along with their sister military associations. I am also a member of the National Rifle Association, though not a military association, I feel they also support many of the ideals that veterans hold dear.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Whoa! This is a simple question with a not so simple answer! I still remember the first time I went home after boot camp. I left home just a few short months after graduating from high school. When I came home after boot camp, those high school friends of mine acted and seemed like “immature kids”. Of course, it wasn’t them that changed, it was me. I had broken away from mom’s “apron strings” and proved to myself that I could make it on my own. The challenges and hardships of military life will either break you or make you stronger. I saw a few who did get broken and had to be sent home or discharged. I don’t think I was that much better than them, but by the grace of God, I was able to change and grow in the new environment of the service life. These lessons of change, growth, and personal strength have become life lessons that have not let me down. I ended up making the Coast Guard my career. A decision I have never once regretted. I can look back at my life and career with pride, dignity, and a true sense of accomplishment.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Get yourself in a job that you have a true passion for and you’ll never look back. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Treat others with respect and fairness. And most importantly, anchor yourself in the one true harbor of Jesus Christ.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
Some of you may be like me, and not very good at remembering names after you leave a duty station. If your lucky, you may remember 2 or 3 out of every 100 you served with. TogetherWeServed puts names together with times and duty stations. When you see those names that you have long forgot, the memories come flooding back! What happened to Petty Officer Jones after you parted? Now you can find out. But first you have to sign up! (But there’s no recruiter lies!)

22
Feb

FTCM Lonnie Jones U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1956-1977)

Read the service reflections of Coast Guardsman:

13496_medFTCM Lonnie Jones

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1956-1977)

Shadow box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/12150

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?
I graduated high school and was hanging out at the park and playing baseball for a church. One Saturday morning, I think it was the 16th of July 1956, I went into the kitchen for breakfast. Mother met me with a quarter and the want ads making the statement “Get a job or join the service TODAY.” I opened the want ad and there was the big advertisement: “Be a Life Saver”, “Join the U.S. Coast Guard”. Mobile recruiting unit in from of the post office today. God said to me, “Here you go. That’s where I want you.” I caught the bus went to the mobile recruiting trailer and took the test. The Recruiter told me I qualified and if I joined I would go to “A” school from Boot Camp. I called my mother, she came up signed the papers.

Monday I received a physical. Tuesday I was sworn in and put on a plane for Boot Camp.

I don’t ever remember hearing it was for just four years.

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?

In Boot Camp I made the Coast Guard football team and played that season. The Coach, Ltjg Hinds, got me assigned to Fire Control “A” School, Groton CT. in hopes I would be assigned to the Unimack and be available for 1957 season. I was shocked when I
arrived at FT School and found out I would not be a fire fighter but a Fire Control Technician operating the Ordnance equipment and controlling the fire power of the ship. I started the school, eight graduated and I was #7 of the 8. I received orders to the CGC Absecon in Norfolk.

I arrived at the Absecon as a SNFT. Promoted to FT3, 1 September, 1957, FT2 1 May 1958.

Transferred to the CGC Unimack Dec 1959 where I was promoted to FT1(E6) on 1 January 1960.

Transferred to the CGC Westwind 2 FEB 1963 and advanced to FTC(E7) 1 October 1964.

I was assigned to CG District 3, 5/11/64 till 10/1967, CG Eastern Area Inspectors 10/67 to 7/1/1969,

CG TRACEN, Governors Island, NY 7/1/1969 where I was advanced to FTCS(E8) on 1/1/1970 and FTCM(E9) 12/1/1970.the same year.

7/1/1972 I transferred to CG Institute.

7/1/71975 transferred to CGHQ-OMR and retired 10/1/1977. SR(E1) to FTCM(E9) in 14 years 6 months and 12 days.

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.

In 1957 the Absecon was on Ocean Station Echo, just north of Bermuda, Hurricane Carrie sunk the German Naval Academy training ship Pamir. We had to go in one side, through the eye and out the other side of the hurricane to reach the rescue area. There were only 6 survivors. I was in the CGC Absecon Life Boat crew that recovered one of them.

The next day the sea was like a sheet of glass, not a ripple on it. Like it had swallowed it’s fill and was now satisfied.

I can’t really say how it makes you feel, but it does change your life.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I never had a bad assignment. I guess I enjoyed the Eastern Area evaluator job the most. I got to travel from Maine to Brownsville, Texas evaluating operations on every type of Coast Guard unit ashore and at sea including aviation units.

I do not have a least favorite.

The Cadet Cruise’s to Europe on the Absecon, The port’s of call on the Unimack, The trip on the Westwind to Thule and the Arctic, Instructing students at the TRACEN,

How could you choose one over the other?

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

With the Pamir rescue, we had to go in one side thru the eye and out the other side of hurricane Carrie, which enforced the slogan “You have to go out, You do not have to return”. Training and supervising 6×8 reserves on the Unimack, my first FT3’s on the West Wind, all shipboard FT’s in the 3rd district, and FT “C” school students at the training center were the most rewarding.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS OR QUALIFICATION BADGES FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT OR VALOR, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

I was transferred from the CG Institute to CGHQ-OMR for the main purpose of rewriting CG272, The Ordnance manual.I received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for Superior Performance of Duty from June 1975 to March 1976. It reads:

“Master Chief Petty Officer Jones is cited for outstanding achievement and superior
performance of duty while serving as Chief, Technical Publications Section, Military Capabilities Branch, Military Readiness Division, Office of Operations, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters from June 1975 to March 1976. Demonstrating exceptional administrative ability, Master Chief Petty Officer Jones was the primary editor, organizer,and expediter of the rewriting of the Coast Guard Ordnance manual (CG-272) which went to press in March 1976. Displaying excellent foresight and a clear understanding of the needs of the Coast Guard, Master Chief Petty Officer Jones applied himself to the task of updating this ten-year-old 590 page technical and administrative manual and successfully insured the the correctness of information and references and the deletion of outdated portions.

Working long hours organizing the material, he coordinated and cleared the project through numerous branches, divisions and offices in an effort that produced an efficient and useful document of 384 pages which will result in improved administration of the Military Readiness Program throughout the Coast Guard. Master Chief Petty Officer Jones’ diligence, initiative and unwavering devotion to duty in this assignment are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard. ”

I not only researched, assembled and laid out the material, I taught myself the 3M Word Processor and typed the whole manual with tables, charts and pictures properly inserted in the text which was dual column, I proofread the material and cleared the manual through all concerned divisions of Headquarters getting approval to go to print in record time.

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?

U. S. Coast Guard Achievement Medal described before. I am equally proud of my 21 years with Good Conduct Medals and the gold stripes I wore.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

GMC Hugh Brady, my first Chief on my first ship. He instilled the sense of duty to be where I was suppose to be, do what I was suppose to do, and complete the task to the best of my ability.

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?
Swimming off the side of the CGC Unimack while berthed at Cape May I swung out on a life boat line which slipped, I froze and swung back into the side of the ship hitting an angle iron sticking out of the side of the ship with my right foot. Because this was against orders to swim off the ship in port we called our shipboard Corpsman back to sew up the hole in my foot instead of going to the base dispensary. Jerry came back a little under the influence and sewed up the toughest skin on the body.

The comments made by him while forcing a large needle thru the tough skin of the sole of the foot are not repeatable. We remain friends and have several more unrepeatable stories.

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?

After teaching myself the 3M word processor while writing the Ordnance Manual I became an expert on the word processing capabilities. I was sent to 3M to learn Assembler programming language to develop programs for the Coast Guard. While in school at 3M, they offered me a joband I immediately retired and started work for 3M Business Communications products. This lasted for 11 years with changes from Word Processing to Facsimile to “Whisper Writer” Electronic Mail Products.

In 1986 I was trained as a Service Technician and moved from VA to FL to service corporate units and expand the base by selling more units when not servicing existing units. 1987 3M dropped the product line and we ended up with Harris Lanier with a guaranteed employment for 90 days. After 9 months as a Service/Sale Representative for Lanier I was let go.

January 1989 I was hired by U.S. Navy Aviation Depot Pensacola as an Aviation Electrician. The depot was closed by congress and I went on the road for Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, L3 and Crestview Aviation as a contract field team Aviation Electrician This lasted about 25 years.

My last job from 2011 to 2013 was with GE Wind Energy as an Assembler. I am now unemployed/retired.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association(Charter and Silver Life Member )
Fleet Reserve Association
American Legion
Sons of the American Revolution (Life member)
Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge
Society of the War of 1812
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Society of the American Colonist
National Rifle Association

Mostly a little life insurance, car and home insurance availability, health and accident offers and fellowship with members and the show of patriotism.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
It has provided me with the security to do things I want to do with out worrying about money and health concerns. The commitment to fulfill the obligations to my employers, organizations, family and friends to the best of my ability were instilled by my military service.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Stay with it. Be in the right place at the right time and BE READY. You volunteered to serve and made the commitment to do you best. Keep the flexibility to go where and when the Coast Guard needs you without regrets. Follow orders to the best of your ability. Remember, You made the commitment to the Coast Guard and you need to bend with the needs of the service.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
Immensely! Going through my pictures, books, certificates, and records brings back many memories. Remembering the Places, People, Activities, Stories and Accomplishments help restore my feeling of self worth. Cures some depression and restores passion for the future.

18
Jan

MKC Robert L. Harris U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1973-1996)

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman

profile1MKC Robert L. Harris

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(Served 1973-1996)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/9729

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

My father was a WWII Navy Veteran, and had also done a four year hitch in the Army after the war. He was military through and through, and it was like having your very own Drill Instructor 24/7. His most famous speech was get ready to get out on your
own when you graduate from High School. I always thought of joining the Navy after high school, but he surprised me and talked me into joining the Coast Guard instead. He said he remembered seeing Coast Guard ships during the invasion of Saipan and Tinian during World War II and it must have left an impression. My mother had a first cousin named Sonny Vieth who was the Chief Engineer of the CGC White Alder, and died when it was hit by a large ship on the Mississippi River and sunk near NOLA. I graduated in 1973 and the Viet Nam War was still lingering on. The draft had mostly came to an end by then, but it was still some what hard to get in to the Coast Guard since many went there trying to stay out of the war. Lucky for me I attended a Vocational High School in Louisville an graduated as a Certified Auto Mechanic. The Coast Guard was in need of Snipes at the time, and scoring high on the old Naval Battery test, they gave me my opportunity.

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?

The Coast Guard recruited me in on the delayed enlistment program upon graduation of High School in June of 1973, and I entered boot camp on January of 1974. I spent a tour in Kodiak, AK. where I worked in the Fuel Division of Public Works. We had just takenover the base from the Navy and it was still the original old WWII barracks, which was full of roaches, and in dire need of repairs. The Coast Guard did not waste anytime fixing the place up. I really never joined thinking of making it a career, and like most 18 year old knuckleheads I spent my time in the club drinking, and in trouble for not complying with regulations. In September 1975 I was lucky to still be on the “A” school list and was sent to MK School. After school I received orders to MSO Providence, RI., and was married to my first Wife enroute.

I departed active duty in 1978 and worked as a Diesel Mechanic in the Louisville, KY. area. After approximately two years of making a comeback as a civilian my second child, and oldest son was born. He arrived about two months premature weighing in at a whopping 2lbs,11ozs. He spent about two months in a Premature Care Ward in the hospital, and came home healthy with no problems. My part of the hospital and doctor bills exceeded far more than my wife and I could afford so the house went first, and the cars next. When that didn’t please them they came after our wages at work, so I knew I had to make some changes. I stopped one day after work at the Coast Guard Recruiting Office and was informed that only a minimal amount of money could be taken from my pay. Plus they offered me to come back in at the same rank I left, and a 95-ft. Patrol Boat in Hawaii. I later met with the wife, who was ready to get the hell out of there, and probably had everything we owned packed by nightfall. We both enjoyed the remaining 16-years being in the Coast Guard, and we raised three children. When my daughter, the oldest started High School she informed me that it would be great for her to possibly stay put until she graduates. My daughter who has always had my back, and could pluck them heart strings, made my mind up that it was time to settle down. The Coast Guard helped too when I made E8 and offered me three picks of duty stations in my “least area of desire”, New York City. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a problem with New York, it’s just not where I wanted my three teen age kids. I turned down the advancement and put in my letter of retirement immediately.

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 never participated in combat, but have experienced a lot of Law Enforcement boarding’s while attached to three WPB’s and a SAR Station. The one Operation I remember being close to anything resembling a military operation would be while I was the Chief Engineering Officer of the USCGC Chincoteague homeported then in Mobile, AL. We were conducting boarding’s in the southern Gulf of Mexico when we came upon an 800-foot freighter flying a Cuban flag. Most of the crew including myself were watching an old WWII Navy movie with John Wayne. About the same time during a General Quarter alarms were sounding in the movie our own General Alarm sounded. It was weird, I was like what the hell is going on. Little did we know the old man wasn’t tired yet, and had come across this Cuban Freighter. As he got close, the freighter changed course, and came towards us as if trying to ram our vessel. The Skipper managed to get us out of “harms way” and a long night was fixing to get a lot longer. We shadowed the boat throughout most of the night trying to get the freighters captain to stop the vessel but it kept it’s speed and direction towards the port of Tampico, Mexico. We were at battle stations most of the night until the someone in Washington DC. wanted the freighter disabled. It was still dark when the 20-MM Machine gun began firing at the freighters stern to attempt disabling the steering system. The freighters Captain then moved his crew to the Engine Room to stop us from firing into that area of the ship. After it became light we picked up two contacts on the radar which were confirmed to be Mexican Patrol Boats enroute to our position. I remember instructing the Engineering staff to position themselves between the Main Engines if we were fired upon. Wasn’t minutes and two Navy Jets from Key West buzzed us and must have let the Mexicans know they were about to bite off more than they could chew because they turned and headed back. The Freighter made it to Tampico but had to be dry docked to repair some leaks, and fire damage from the tracer rounds. We stayed on position for another 24-hours, but were running out of food and fuel so we were instructed to return to homeport. The incident made the news, and the film we took was on “Good Morning America”. Castro was mad as hell to say the least but whatever it was carrying is probably still a mystery.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My time at USCG Station Destin, FL. was my favorite. I had just made MK1 and it was my first time running the Engineering Department. I worked for, and with some great Coastie’s which included BMCM Marty Dobrin who was my favorite. He was an old River Rat who taught us a lot with his “Hillbilly Philosophy”. My least favorite was the USCGC Harris in Honolulu. Let me tell you, it’s difficult having the same last name as your boat. Everybody, I mean from the Admiral on down had jokes. I had just returned from taking the USCGC Cape Corwin from Honolulu to Baltimore, and thought my tour there was done. I was ready to come back to CONUS, but the Coast Guard replaced the Corwin with an 82-footer from Guam and started another tour in paradise for me. It wasn’t all that bad because a lot of my shipmates from the Corwin came with me.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

This would have to be the trip on a 95-foot Patrol Boat from Honolulu, HI. to the CG Yards in Baltimore, MD. in 1981. The CGC Cape Corwin’s Hollywood career as “Hawaii Five-O’s” boat had long since come to an end around 1980. I had just reenlisted after getting outof the Guard 2-years earlier. The old boat had seen it’s day, and was in pretty bad shape, with five cofferdams in the hull. The closest parts store was another decommissioned 95-footer in a California museum. This was my first real sea duty and the experience probably molded me into the person I am today. 10,000 miles, 20 to 25 foot sea’s in the Pacific, and a couple weeks of the Mariel Boatlift later, we had plenty of stories and memories to bring back. We kept her running and floating for almost three month’s, and there was a lot of talk around the 14th District that we would not get there at all. We conducted Operations off El Salvador, and hit the tail end of the Mariel Boatlift when the 95-footer in Key West hit a 210 and made her a 92-footer. We showed the Hawaiian flag in Long Beach, CA., San Deigo, Coasta Rica, Panama, Grand Camen Island, Key West, and Charleston, SC. During the last couple days in Charleston we painted the Engine Room before turning her over in Baltimore. I got to see her again on the return trip, when the boat stopped for fuel and provisions in Honolulu, on her way to Guam. This crew too had their share of memories and stories of a “Trip To Far”.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 

I received two CG Commendation Medals, and the Achievement medal during my last three duty stations. I always took a lot of pride in my Engineering Department and emphasized with doing the best job possible. I wasn’t the best dressed Chief in the Guard because I loved working as a Snipe, with the department. I’ve been real lucky to have had some of our best working for me, so all it took was for the Chief to roll up his sleeves, and whatever the casualty was, the boy’s and I were going to fix it. Every medal, ribbon, or stripe that I’ve been awarded was because of team effort. I knew I had the most to loose or to gain from being in charge of Engineering, but Coastie’s are well known for making their bosses look really good. I’ve seen them work for several days with just a couple hours of sleep, little to eat, and bust with pride when the job was over. Yes, I received some medals, but the experiences and the memories of the people working with me, will always be the most rewarding.

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 Coast Guard Achievement Medal that I received while serving as Chief Engineer aboard the USCGC Chincoteague was my proudest moment. It was my first Cutter as head of the Engineering Department, and one of the first as a Plankowner of a new 110′ Island Class Cutter. My Engineering staffand I watched her be built at Bollinger Shipyard, which probably helped with making us a great team. There was a great deal of pride to be the Cutters first crew, and the first 110′ ft WPB in the Gulf of Mexico. We were always training, preparing, and on call. I remember a lot of underway time, and always getting moved from one OPCON to another around the Gulf Coast. We had our share of Engine Room casualties, but we always always managed to work out the “bugs”, and keep up with the crazy schedule. I was also the CEA, and the Commanding Officers link between the enlisted personnel. He hardly ever left the boat when we pulled into port so I would help out keeping tabs on the crew, and making sure everybody made it safely back to the boat. It was probably the most demanding part of my life, damn sure put some grey hair on my head, but it gave me the confidence, and experience I needed for a successful career.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

I would have to say that while at SAR Station Destin, FL., BMCM Martin Dobrin had the most beneficial impact on my career. BMCM Dobrin was from West Virginia, and answered most questions with his old “Hillbilly Philosophy”. He took me from just being a hard working Engineer to a Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer. My professionalism as a Coastie changed the day he took over the unit. He always was there for his people, and everyone loved working for him. He guided me through my advancement to Chief, and made me feel like I had truly reached a new level in my life. He taught me how to be proud of who I am, and how to manage my department above expectations. He also taught me that no matter what life throws at you, we have to push on, and continue to do the job we have been assigned, to the best of our ability. When I was transferred to the USCG Cutter Cimmaron in the old Second District I heard stories from his career on the rivers that only confirmed his Professionalism and Dedication.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

I have had friends in the Coast Guard that have been more like brothers and sisters than just Shipmates. It was a different world in the Coast Guard, people get close being crammed into small living spaces aboard ships, watching out for each others back, and being there to help during the bad personal times. I’ve been there for the birth of their children to the deaths of their parents, and they have been there for me. My three children still refer to past Coastie’s as “Uncle” or “Aunt” when they are remembered, and I can say the love for them has not changed. I haven’t stayed in contact with them as I should have but I still get Christmas cards and emails with pictures that show up unexpectedly. After twenty years I cannot name but just a small list of them in this post. I cannot post names without possibly hurting someone else’s feelings, so I won’t provide any names.

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?

Coast Guard Day picnic at USCG Station Destin about 1986. We had just built a large gazebo on the beach behind the Station. Everyone including family, local Sheriff’s and Marine Patrol were there. Day was just coming to an end when one of our Bos’nmates, a six-foot five biker dude shows up skiing down the beach in his birthday suit. Wasn’t to funny for the wives who were still there, and they began scooping up the kids and going home. For a Coastie with a belly full of beer, it was hilarious. The Master Chief scrambled the 41 footer and ran him down which only made it even funnier. Needless to say he came back to a world of trouble, but I remember the Master Chief couldn’t keep a straight face. He got the usual 3/14/48, but kept his rank, and gave one he’ll of a show that nobody will forget.

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 retired in September 1996 and began working for a rolled type steel mill as a parts department manager. The place was scary and very hazardous so I took another job as a Facility Manager of a Rail Car repair facility which repaired and conducted maintenance on CSX Railroad cars. In 1999 I was offered a job managing a Healthcare company’s Data Center, and have been there since.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

The Data Center where I currently work in reminds me of managing an Engine Room aboard a Cutter. Machinery is different but the routine maintenance and repair works much the same. Having an Engineering background in air conditioning, electrical distribution, and management got my foot in the door, and the continued training I received in my current position has allowed me to continue being an effective member of my Data Center Operations Team over the last seventeen years.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Take advantage of any and all types of Commercial or Military training you can get. Life is full of changes, and when opportunities come along you will have that edge, and experience that will make you stand out.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Reading the many articles provided by Coast Guard Veteran’s brings back many good memories. I also love reading WWII history this site offers. I haven’t communicated with as many friends a I hoped to, but the site is fairly new and that may change.

14
Dec

MK2 Bill Cote U.S. Coast Guard (1979-1988)

Read the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardman

coteMK2 Bill Cote

U.S. Coast Guard

(1979-1988)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/41

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

My dad and step-dad were both WWII vets. My dad joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 for service in the Philippines and Guadalcanal. My step-dad was in the US Army with the 964th Field Artillery. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, Omaha Beach, and 3 other major
cote21978 battles. I had 3 uncles and an older brother in the US Navy.

I joined the Maine Army National Guard in 1978 my junior year in high school. I went to Army Basic Training in August 1978 at Fort Dix NJ. Then I graduated from high school 5 months early in Jan. of 1979. I went back to Ft. Dix for my AIT Power Generator and Wheel Vehicle Mechanic school in Jan of 1979. Then back to my Guard unit in Belfast, Me. I became an M-60 Machine Gunner at 17.

My assistant Gunner was a Nam vet Marine who taught me very well in the use of the 60. We had our summer training in North Dakota in June of 1979. I asked a friend when he thought they would put me in the motor pool and he said probably when my 6 years were up.

I was offered OCS school, but I gave it some thought and decided I wanted a change. Since I grew up on the coast of Maine and most of my friends and their dads were fishermen, I decided that I would join the US Coast Guard.

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?

After attending prior service Boot Camp at Cape May NJ. I was assigned as an SA, aboard the CGC Gallatin from August of 1979- December of 1980. I worked in the engine room for MK1 Steve Brown, Mk1 Clark and MKCS Defrancisco. I switched to FA, made FN, then off to MK-A school in lovely Yorktown Virginia. I graduated as an MKFN.

I was then stationed at the 378 MAT in Boston, MA from 1980-1983. I worked for MKCS Calvin Smith. He was awesome to work with, he taught me alot about rebuilding Fairbanks Morse engines, and Gas turbines.

Our shop was next door to the assist team so I got to work with some great folks there also. Two of my favorites were MKCM Stanley Hiller, and MKCM Gerry Poliskey.

left the Mat team as an MK3, to serve aboard the CGC Duane WHEC 33. I worked in the engine room for MKCM Duke (Gary) Snyder. I worked my way from Oiler up to Second Throttles. I loved working on that ship, I was always proud every time I walked down the pier to get aboard her.

I received the Commandants Letter of Commendation while on board the Duane. Probably one of my biggest achievements, beside’s jumping on a forklift and putting boulders on the base of the LORAN tower in Lampedusa Italy during a 60+ mph wind storm and helped keep her from blowing over!! That was from 1984-1985. I worked with a great crew there also. From the Skipper Dave Mogan on down!!!

I made MK2 and after a year in Italy I was told I would get choice of duty, I wanted Alaska, but that never happened. I was stationed back in Boston at the 270′ Mat. I then transferred to the CGC Spar WLB 403 which I enjoyed. I was in A gang.

In 1986 I transferred to Rockland station which was in my home turf. I love working SAR. Anytime I heard the alarm go off I was running for the boats.

While in Boston I had dislocated my right shoulder twice. I had surgery and they gave me 45 days to heal up then I was back turning wrenches. It eventually got bad enough that I sadly had to get out in Jan of 1988.

It definitely was an adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything. My only regret is not staying in long enough to retire!!!

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.

While on board CGC Gallatin, we were at GQ for 3 days straight chasing a submarine off of Cuba keeping her from surfacing, while waiting for the USN for an assist!! That was pretty awesome.

I also remember doing Haitians ops while on board the CGC Duane. All those poor women and children. Pretty sad duty.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

I loved all my duty stations.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

I remember how proud I was every time I went aboard a ship.

Seeing floaters in NYC, and Boston is something that’s kinda hard to forget.

While living in Hyde Park just outside of Boston, my friend and shipmate Bob Wilson and I saw an accident where a drunk driver t-boned a 16 year old boy and his girlfriend. She got out okay but he was trapped. We got there the same time as the 1st responders. We helped rip the door off, then got him out and we started performing CPR. He was vomiting up blood and I knew it wasn’t good. The ambulance got there and took over. I read in the paper a few days later that he had died!!!

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?

Commandants letter of Commendation!!! I helped save the USCG alot of money by just doing what I had been trained to do!!!!

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

In August of 1979 MK1 Steve Brown handed me Louis L’amours “Fair Blow’s the Wind” and I’ve been reading and collecting Louis’ books ever since. I even have an autographed one. I worked for some great people and with some great people. They all had an impact on me. MKCM Calvin Smith had an positive impact on me. Captain Arthur Solvang, CO of Base Boston, MKCM Gerry Poliskey, MKCM Stan Hiller, MKCM Harvey Fenton, MKCM Duke Snyder, Lt. Commander Lawrence Murphy, my last CO on the CGC Duane, CWO4 Nim Gray. I could go on for days!!!

I only met a few Coasties I didn’t like!

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

USCGC Gallatin. I’m in touch with several shipmates from my days aboard the old gal.

Fran Dietrich my engine room soogie partner getting her cleaned up for New Yorker magazine to come take pics lol.

EM3 Bob Howe Bob signed a lot of my engine room quals.,

EM3 Peggy O’Neill, I remember breaking in on 4-8 oiler rounds with Peggy she was an awesome shipmate.

Just got in touch with MK3 Mark Sullivan from my Gallatin days!!!!!

378′ Mat I stayed in touch with quite a few folks from my days in Boston, many have crossed the bar, fair winds to them. I stay in touch with Gerry Poliskey, Mark Powell, Paul Holmes.

I would like to get in touch with MKCM Calvin Smith, I’ve tried getting a hold of him. Last I knew he retired and was living in Plymouth, MA.!!!

CGC Duane, CWO4 Nim Gray was our Main Prop advisor and I still call him Mr Gray. He’s a great person.

Duke crossed over.

I still hunt with MK1 Charles Dean.

The Hamilton twins crossed the bar.

Chris Mcgilvery and his Coastie wife Jeannie are still in touch.

Paul Ludden, Pat Mccauley, Thomas Porter, XO Chuck Hill, Doug Harvey, Dave Hutchinson, Mike Snopko, Marvin Dunmeyer, Wayne Jarvis just to name a few!

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?

I worked in the ship yards and construction after I got out. I have asbestosis and several other service connected disabilities. My wife is an artist, author, and illustrator of a children’s books. I have 2 beautiful daughters, Lauren age 11 and Hannah age 8. They are both very artistic

I cut gemstones, make jewelry, and Native American flutes for fun.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

American Legion, and lifetime member DAV. they have helped with my VA claims! I was doing some service officer work with the Legion for a few years.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I still like to help people in trouble. I always kept good work ethics and a positive attitude, I worked on quite a few Coast Guard Cutters even after I got out.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Hang in there, and thanks for your service. Don’t ask people to do anything your not willing to do yourself!

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

I’ve gotten in touch with some of my old shipmates. Thanks to TWS, Fred’s Place and Facebook.

9
Nov

ET2 Max McHatton U.S. Coast Guard (1974-1978)

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

profile1ET2 Max McHatton

U.S. Coast Guard

(Served 1974-1978)

Shadow Box:http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/1295

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

When I was young, I lived in the Northern Sacramento Valley, near the Sacramento River. When the Sacramento River flooded the entire area; the Coast guard sent H-52 helicopters to rescue people. That greatly impressed me. My Grandfather served as an electricians mate in the Navy in WW I. Two of my uncles served in WW II; and one was a Navy fighter pilot. He was my Hero. I anted to b a Navy fighter pilot too. But at 6′ 3″, I was told I was too tall to be a fighter pilot. My father served in the Army in Korea, in a special unit, that required him to work with all other branches of military, including NATO forces.

Of all of the military units he served with; he held the US Coast Guard in the highest regard. I rejected multiple offers of an appointment to West Point; as I did not want to be an infantry officer in Vietnam.I applied, and made the list of approximately 10,000 qualified candidate, for the Coast Guard Academy; but my SAT scores were not in the top 300; so I was not selected. I wanted a technical education, as I enjoyed studying electricity in 4H and physics. None of the scholarships I was offered were for engineering schools. So I chose to join the Coast Guard, with a guaranteed ET school.

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 really enjoyed ET schools. I was in the top 1% of my class. I chose Radar as my career path; partly because it was the longest, and arguably the most difficult school; and partly because of my fighter pilot uncle’s advice. Soon after starting my assignment to the Rush,
I was the only Radar ET. It was very challenging; and I love a challenge. In the Coast Guard, As a Radar Technician, I learned very marketable skills.

Throughout my four years on active duty, with the exception of in Alaska and the Aleutians, civilians, including those we rescued, treated us very disrespectfully. On my last rescue mission, the Captain of the commercial fishing vessel, after we suppressed the fire, and towed him to the station and inspected his vessel, spat on us and called us baby killers. I was angry, and decided not to risk my life again, for people that despised me.

While still on active duty, I was offered many jobs; including an offer from Raytheon; after I installed the first SPS-67V, and figured out how to make it operate correctly. However, I chose to work for the Federal Aviation Administration, as a Radar and Automation Specialist. I loved working on Radars and Mainframe ATC Computers. It was the Coast Guard that provided me the opportunity, training and experience, that paved the way for my job in the FAA. I considered Coast Guard Reserves, and was offered OCS. However, the FAA would not allow me to be a reservist, as my job was critical.

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.

While I was on the RUSH, we performed Fisheries Law Enforcement, Multiple SAR missions, Fire Fighting and enforced Maritime Salvage Law. When a Soviet Fishing Trawler ran aground while illegally fishing, and refused to allow an American tug or the Coast Guard to salvage the vessel, the RUSH was calledupon for a show of force.

On one ALPAT, the Soviets had a submarine dog us, in an attempt to prevent us from catching the Soviet Fishing Fleet illegally fishing. Multiple times, we detected the sub, went to condition AS1, and engaged the sub, driving it off.

When we engaged one Soviet fishing fleet, we observed one trawler that was not fishing, and had an unusually high number of antennas. Captain Gannaway decided to board that trawler. Each time we attempted to maneuver alongside it, the Soviets would react by having one or more trawlers change course, requiring us to change course, to yield the right of way. Several times, one of the trawlers even cut loose it’s net, to allow it to maneuver. The Soviets were determined that we would not board that trawler that appeared to be gathering electronic intelligence.

After many hours of playing the Soviets cat and mouse game, Captain Gannaway ordered the the RUSH to GQ, fired up the turbines and at high speed maneuvered the ship into position to board the suspicious trawler. The Soviets weren’t happy with us and even threatened the boarding team. A 1911 aimed at the face of the belligerent Russian calmed him down.

A memorable mission was when we received orders to aid the Storis in fighting a fire in an Aleut village. We made turns to arrive on scene as soon as possible. It was dark when we arrived on scene, and the Storis was already there. The bay was full of debris, and the dock was ablaze. We launched both 25′ mlb’s, equipped with pumps, to suppress the fire on the dock, and to clear a path for the ship to dock. The 25’s were supplying water to the underside of the dock, as the ship suppressed the fires on top of the dock. Once we were in position to tie up to the dock, Damage Control Teams deployed to fight the fires. The fires had already destroyed a power-plant a cannery and multiple warehouses; and were threatening the only remaining power-plant. It was winter, and bitterly cold, so loss of the power-plant would be life threatening to the residents. Eventually, most of the RUSH’s crew were involved in putting out, and keeping out the fires. We fought all night, and saved the village. We and the Storis saved many lives together. The residents were very grateful.

While I was on the RUSH, we also rescued two US fishing vessels in distress, one Japanese long-liner and one ditched aircraft.

I saw some big waves, high winds and sub zero temperatures. I also saw amazing wildlife. In one very bad storm, with 60′ waves, 90 10 120 knot winds, and -50 degree temp; we rescued the Sea Hawk. We lost most of our antennas in that storm. I was aloft, rigging a replacement long-wire antenna, when the top-rail of the forward port yardarm broke at one end, with me attached. That scared the crap out of me. The event later gave me material for an “A” on an English paper in college.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My fondest memories from my time in the Coast Guard, were from the Rush, and at Station Depot Bay; when serving as the ET for Station Yaquina Bay, Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Station Depot Bay.

There are two high points in my memories on the Rush. The first was when Captain Gannaway invited me to dine with him, and discuss what I needed to get the SPS-67V working correctly. He had me sit in the XO’s chair, and the XO was seated next to me, on the other side. I was an ET3. I don’t think the XO liked that. The second was when my Chief, SCPO House made breakfast to order for me in the Chief’s Mess. Wow!

The least favorite experience was when they needed a crewman for a 44 MLB, in Yaquina Bay, to rescue a commercial fishing boat that was on fire and sinking. I was thrilled to be directly involved with a successful rescue. That is, until after we tied the boat up at the pier, and were performing a safety inspection. The skipper spit on me and called me a “Baby killer”.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

I rescued the beer, when fighting an industrial fire on one of the Aleutian Islands. Both the Rush and the Storris took part in the firefighting. It’s a long story. The CO of the RUSH, Captain Ted Gannaway was a great man and a great Skipper. If you look inthe dictionary for Salty Dog; you will see his photo.

Saving lives was a great feeling. In Alaska, we were welcome, respected and appreciated; unlike in the lower 48.

My last rescue was out of Yaquina Bay Station, Newport, Oregon. We rescued a commercial fishing vessel that was on fire. We put out the fire, pumped out the water and towed the vessel to the station. When inspecting the vessel; we discovered the only fire extinguisher was not used, as it was empty; and there were no flotation devices on the vessel. When we informed the vessel’s captain, he got outraged, started cussing at us, spitting on us and calling us “Baby killer”. I wanted to take him out; but the wise Chief Boatswain’s Mate put his hand on my chest and shook his head. I walked away.

That incident made up my mind to leave my beloved Coast Guard. I didn’t want to continue to risk my life for people that seemed to hold me in contempt.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 

Saving lives was very rewarding. I am proud of the Meritorious Unit Citation with O device, we were rewarded when I was on the RUSH. A brand new Surf Rescue Survival Suit with my name on it, was presented to me at Depot Bay Station. It was a high honor; especially considering that I was just the ET that never went on a mission with them. But they were very thankful to me; because before me, they had only handheld radios that were operational. I spent many long hours, in all weather, repairing or replacing all of the electronics on both of their 44′ MLB’s. I only wore the suit once, but I was very proud and honored to wear it.

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?

Meritorious Unit Citation with O device and Brand new Surf Rescue Survival Suit with my name on it.

The ribbon for lives saved under perilous conditions. The Surf Rescue Suit for appreciation and respect.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Captain Ted Gannaway. He was the pinnacle of Commanding Officers. He loved his ship, his crew, and his missions. If Webster’s was going to include Salty Dog in it’s dictionary; it would have Captain Gannaway’s photograph.

Senior Chief William House was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. He was a true Southern gentleman. He was ethical and honorable. He cared greatly for the men under his charge.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

I am now old and in-firmed. My memory is not as it once was. I remember all of the faces of those I served with. I even remember voices and mannerisms, but I don’t remember all of the names.

Of the names I do remember, the ones I remember were Robert J. Hughes, Eugene Gonzales, Brian Barbaris, Kevin Beldin, Kevin Johnson, William House, Juan Gonzales, Jeff Trimmer, Doug Schaepe, Chief Garcia,

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 worked as a Radar, Automation and communications Specialist for 15 years. I then went into management. I now have multiple work related disabilities, and work part time as an Administrator and Safety Officer for the FAA. I am also the Squadron Safety Officer, and Assistant Aerospace Education Officer for the US Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

American Legion, Patriot Guard Riders and Yakima Warrior Association.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

The Coast Guard started me on a challenging and rewarding career path. Because of my service in the Coast Guard, I never again thought I was working too hard or too long. In the Coast Guard, I learned the values of respect, discipline, honor, service and sacrifice.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Choose a career path that teaches marketable skills.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Through Together We Served I have been able to reconnect with old shipmates, No one else understands my experiences except another veteran.

22
Jul

AECS Tom Wynn U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1972-1992)

Service Reflections is US Coast Guardsman:

profileAECS Tom Wynn

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1972-1992)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Tom.Wynn

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

My father was in the Coast Guard. He asked me at 12 what I wanted to do for a living when I was grown up. I didn’t know at the time. He quickly said, “You better now, you only have a few more years to prepare”. So he began to ask me questions about what I like to do or learn. I told him several things like science and physics and electricity. Electronics like he did, (he was a AT1) and survival interests, like in the Boy Scouts. So he told me of all the rates that I might look at in the Coast Guard. I was set on ASM but it was not available to me at the time of choosing a class A school when I applied from my ship, the USCGC RUSH in CA. I was 17.5 years old when I joined and picked the Rush. If I had to go to sea I wanted to go on the biggest and best vessel type the Coast Guard had to offer. Later I would go on two Ice Breakers, one being the Polar Sea voyage to Antarctica in 1978. I went to AE school in Jacksonville Florida at the Naval Air Station. One of the last classes to go there before they moved it to Memphis. So I became an AE and was so glad of it. I enjoyed my career and loved the Coast Guard. My son was a third generation Coastie.

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?

Boot Camp in CA. USCGC Rush for 5.5 months. AE A school in Naval Air Jax in Florida. Mobile Alabama Air Station for two parts, the Air Station and Pop-Div for a total of 4 years. Air Station Houston 3 years. ARSC 3 years. Air Station Detroit 3 years. Air Station San Francisco 2 years. Air Station Clearwater 3 years and finally just prior to retirement, CG unit at Panama City Florida for approximately 4 months before retirement. I was senior to the Senior Chief in charge so he sent me home and I only came to work to do paperwork for retirement and complete my terminal leave of 85 days. Loved it!

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

USCGC RUSH, not to fond of that. I was a Seaman and it was in CA. I was only 17. 5 years old. I was the second youngest person aboard. I was married and was a very sharp individual. So I only did 5.5 months aboard the vessel before departing for AE A school in Florida. Air Station Mobile Alabama. Including Pop Div. Polar Shipboard Ops Division. I ran the Battery Shop and the Tool Room was my first assignments. My mentors were my father AT1 T.W. Wynn Sr. a great man and lovely soul. AE1 John Reid, AE1 Buckmaster all has passed away now. AE2 Smokey Stover, Who I later replaced at Air Sta Clearwater when we were both Senior Chiefs. He was retiring and I retired three years later. I was Maintenance Chief there and later became the CEA of the Air Station for the last 2.5 years of my Great Career. I loved my work, helping the men and women I served with. I enjoyed my jobs in the Coast Guard and I departed very happy and full of joy I could finally see my dream of retirement at 20 at the door. That was nearly 20 years ago now. Time flies when you are having a good retirement life. Thank you LORD!! The Coast Guard is one on the Best jobs in the World. Saving lives for a living is the way to go.

Next I went to Air Station Houston and learned how to be a good mechanic and Electrician on the HH52A and my mentor there was Buckmaster again and AT1 B. Fletcher, who would follow me to Elizabeth City NC. We are still friends today. ARSC was my next stop. I loved it there, so many friends and mentors. AM1 Mark Sheafer, AD1 Jimmy Taylor and a few others where my best buddies on the HH52A QA team. just loved it there. Made Chief and off to Detroit. Hated! But I did take the time to get more education there and studied on how to retire as a young man. Freezing cold, nothing else to do. All indoor life, but the housing “Sucked”, sorry but there is no other way to say it. Air Station San Francisco. Love it there, had to go there for my son. He needed a heart operation. Great time there and love every minute of it. Great people to work with and I made Senior Chief. I wrote the number one test on the first try and made it in March. Only had three years until retirement. Off to Clearwater we went. I was happy all around. I really wanted Mobile. But oh well, God had other plans. I had a great tour there and off to Retirement. God’s Country North Florida. We have been here every since.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

Too many to count brothers. Love my career 96 percent of the time. Great job and lovely hard working folks to be with, blood swear and tears came often as I moved from place to place, ship to ship, Air Station to Air Station. Lost a few shipmates over the years in Helo crashes. But over all, a great 20 year tour of love and kindness from all my co-workers. I loved my pilots and my crews. Everyone had a common goal. Save lives for a living. No better thing to do in this world. God Bless the US Coast Guard and their families. Love you!

Read more »

25
Apr

CWO2 Shannon Reck U.S. Coast Guard (1990-Present)

reckRead the service reflections us US Coast Guardsman:

CWO2 Shannon Reck

U.S. Coast Guard

(1990-Present)

Service Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Reck

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, record your own military service story you can share with your family on TogetherWeServed.com.

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.

18
Jan

SO Stephen Fletcher U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary (2014-Present)

View the service reflections of Coast Guard Auxiliary member:

fletch1SO Stephen Fletcher

U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary

(2014-Present)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Fletch

If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military, join your brothers and sisters in arms at TogetherWeServed.com

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

I decided to continue to serve in the Coast Guard Auxiliary as a way to give back to my country, and help support active duty as well as Veterans. The Auxiliary has opened door and opportunities for me to serve alongside the regular active and reserve duty (the gold side counterparts to an auxiliary member). Many of the local stations are limited on their manpower, and the auxiliary fills the void. My skills and prior service as a Marine, can be utilized to help our men and women currently serving. Everything happens at the flotilla level, those are the workers, the troops in the trenches. The flotilla that I am in serves Sector Detroit, and Station Belle Isle. We hold our meetings at the Coast Guard Station, and work closely with them in various missions. Giving back to those that serve, the country, and the community.

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 was looking to expand on my information technology training, and my path was geared to that end. After Boot Camp I attended my MOS school (Computer Science School) at MCB Quantico, VA. I then was sent by the Marine Corps to the various RASC’s, and then ending (keeping true to a Marines basic function) at a Deployable computer based unit (5th DFASC). While at the 5th DFASC, we accomplished many “first’s” in Marine Corps history. This unit was a small 30 member T/O billeted unit, but true to the unit’s motto, we were “Good to Go”. Some amazing advances in the technology and computing world were taking place. The 5th DFASC was the first ADPE mobile center, taking the computing power of a RASC out into the field to support a MAGTF. We were the first to load onto a ship, USS Fairfax County (LST-1193), first to conduct ship-board data processing, first to deploy in a beach-head landing, first to deploy onto aircraft. There were many first’s that this unit took on and accomplished.

In the Auxiliary, I have had the chance to expand on my Marine Corps Training. Taken training and become a Operational Auxiliarist, Vessel Examiner, Program Visitor, and Information Systems. The Auxiliary allows me to support the US Coast Guard in non-traditional roles as well. The Coast Guard maintains a skills bank of members with certian skill sets. They can then draw upon these skills on an as needed basis to accomplish tasks which would otherwise overburden active duty manpower. Augmenting the station crew is another way to give your time and talents. Watchstanding or Radio Watchstanding frees up a crew member to accomplish other duties, making full use of their resources.

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.

The Marines and Coast Guard are always there in time of emergency. Humanitarian Aid is always a focus when you answer the call for help. Hurricane Diana in 1984 was one time we stepped up to the call, and assisted the people of North Carolina that suffered severe storm damages and losses. The one operation that sticks with me is the bombing(s) in Beirut. We were supporting those Marines/Navy personnel after the bombing of the US Embassy (18 April 1983). Feel free to view the online version of the Memorial that was made by the community of Jacksonville, NC. Visit the Memorial when you are at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. http://www.beirut-memorial.org/history/index.html

In the Auxiliary, we have participated in many Maritime Observation Missions, Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, and Air Support. Auxiliary boats and aircraft donate hundreds of hours that might not be available if only active duty did those tasks. Thousands of buoys need to have their positions verified to confirm that are on station and protecting the navigable waters.

One of the largest missions of the Auxiliary is Recreational Boating Safety. The Auxiliary promotes safety on the docks and water, gives public education on water safety, boating skills, and rules of the road. Free vessel checks are also performed to advise the boat owner of all the federal and state requirements keeping the boat owner informed and safe.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

One of the best places I was stationed that gave me the best memories was the 5th Deployable FASC, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC. It was there that I was cross-trained on many different fields / MOS’s within the 40xx group, and other duties as well. We trained in garrison, and deployed to the field. We participated on various exercises (Solid Shield and CAX were favorites). The unit consisted of about 28-30 Marines total, so it was a very close, tight group, from our Major down to the last Private. There were many experiences that I had which I don’t believe would have happened if I was at a larger land based unit, that wasn’t deployable. (See news article in my profile documents). We broke ground for many Marines to follow us, as at that time our unit was new, and testing the theory. We accomplished many “firsts” in Marine Corps data processing history. First ship-board unit, first ship-board operations, first beach landing, first air-transport, among others, all for a mainframe computing environment. We even got kudos from BGEN Wineglass on being Marines in the field. CWO4 Williams can share that and other stories. We lived up to our new units motto, as we really were “Good To Go”.

On the Coast Guard side, Sector Detroit is the place to be. With missions at the Detroit River Days, to the Ford Fireworks, to Ice Patrol missions, serving here at home with the local Coast Guard just strengthens our resolve to be Semper Paratus (Always Ready).

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

The many friends that I made while attached to the various units I served in. Additionally, many of them are here on TWS, and we have re-connected and re-visited our past memories, true to the mission of this site. The stories from all them members of TWS help create as well as document the history and traditions of which I played a small role in.

One of the most heart-wrenching experiences was the recent multi-burial of veterans. These veterans were unclaimed remains of those that passed without any next of kin or the means to provide a funeral. On September 11, 2014, thirteen veterans, located by the Missing In America Project (MIAP) made the long journey to the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, MI. Hearse after hearse pulled into the cemetery until all 13 arrived. Pallbearers made up of many volunteers from active duty Marines, Army, Air Force, and Navy. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary also volunteered as did members of VFWs and American Legions. 78 pallbearers carried these thirteen men to their final resting place. One family member was there to receive her brother’s flag. The other twelve were presented to Gold Star Mothers who stood in place for the family these men did not have.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 

The Navy Unit Commendation. This award shows not only that we did a good job, but shows the teamwork of the entire unit to earn that distinction. Additionally, I was awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation. The citation in part reads:

“For exceptionally meritorious service from June 24, 2009 to June 23, 2014, while providing unprecedented levels of dedicated public service and operational support to the U. S. Coast Guard’s missions. Demonstrating remarkable professionalism and boating safety expertise, the Auxiliary performed over 1.1 million vessel safety checks and marine dealer visits, delivered over 540 thousand hours of boating safety course instruction and conducted over 809 thousand hours of public outreach. Displaying superior underway and airborne operational proficiency, Auxiliarists logged over 19.8 million hours of support and patrol missions, saved over one thousand lives, assisted over 20 thousand boaters in distress and prevented the loss of more than 185 million dollars in property. The Auxiliary always answered the call, remaining in lockstep with the Coast Guard’s response to every major incident.”

Teamwork is what these two awards recognize.

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 Unit Commendation & Coast Guard Commendation. These awards show not only that we did a good job, but shows the teamwork of the entire unit to earn that distinction. While the other awards also hold great memories, these two signify the brotherhood, or as history has shown many times; “this band of brothers”, the cohesiveness of the Marine Unit.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
I would have to say that the one Marine that made the biggest impact on me was my Senior Drill Instructor, Sgt Slusser. He instilled in us recruits not only the training that we needed in those long weeks of Boot Camp, but the drive to be the best at everything we do. For that title ‘US Marine’ is a very prestigious honor to have, and it proves that we are the best!

The other individuals that stand out the most are the three officers of the small but close knit unit, 5th DFASC. These three were great leaders, and we learned a great deal from them, and I am proud to have served with all three (Maj Marsh, CWO’s Williams and Trimble).

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?

This incident stems from my time at the 5th Deployable FASC. Most data-processing Marines, once they have completed Boot Camp and gone on to their MOS in data-processing, leave the grunt work behind. They are used to working in a building, eating at the chow hall, and shopping at the base exchange. The 5th DFASC brought back the word deployable. This was our first “deployment” and our chance to experience field life. But alas, in the field there is no head, what to do. Well, the sharp thinking minds on the data-processing Marines, took the admin’s jeep (it had a little trailer) and returned later with a port-a-john, which of course they covered and concealed with camo-netting.

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 followed the path I started in high school; the Information technology realm. I am currently supporting the IT infrastructure (soon to be a national realm) of a transportation business, including Main site, VPN remote sites, and hundreds of mobile data (in vehicle) terminals.

In the Auxiliary I have continues my Information Systems path, becoming the Division Staff Officer-Information Systems. This position tasks me with correctly recording submitted hours and supporting the other staff officers with Information Systems support. Data Processing in a nutshell, pulling training reports and others as needed.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

AMVETS, American Legion, American Cold War Vet Assoc, Marine Corps Vet Assoc, Marine Corps League, NCO Association, NAUS, VFW. I also serve in the USCG Auxiliary. Being an auxiliarist has allowed me to re-connect with my military memories, as well as re-establish those connections that I had while serving in the USMC. Back in uniform, and giving of my time and talents to support the US Coast Guard’s mission. Boating Safety is the primary mission of the Auxiliary, and we augment the USCG in other areas. As I expand my career in the Auxiliary in areas of Vessel Examinations, Program Visitors, and Auxiliary Operations (including USCG Watch Standing) with Boat and Air Stations, I will continue to focus on giving back.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Military life has given me a sense of discipline and responsibility. Bearing, as they teach you in boot camp, is how you carry yourself. The leadership traits you learn can all be applied throughout your life, and will serve you well into your future years, whatever the situation is.

The skill set is useful in maintaining good work ethics. Leadership is key in almost all businesses, and those experiences in the USMC and USCG have developed and honed those skills.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?

Keep the faith. Be true to yourself and your service branch, do your best at all times. As a Marine I still uphold the Marine motto ‘Semper Fi’. Know that we all veterans and civilians alike, support the things that you do that ensure the preservation of our freedoms. Thank You for your service !!

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

TWS has let me re-connect with many of the Marines (and other branch service members). It is all about keeping those connections, and developing new ones along the way. The camaraderie that one develops while serving in any of the armed forces runs deep in the soul of that person.

TWS, regardless of the branch, allows that brotherhood that we had in time of service to rise up and flourish again. I have been able to make remembrance profiles for some of my family members (my father and grandfather) who served in WWI and WWII. Having a place that my family can share information and service history of our relatives is a great way to honor their contributions to the freedoms that I enjoy. Additionally, I have the honor of adopting a fallen member(s) profile from the current era, and can ensure that his sacrifice to this nation is not forgotten. From the stories and knowledge that the veterans have for the newer service personnel, to the lively banter in the forums, TWS allows the history to be both cherished and passed along.

9
Nov

AST2 Bradley Mellon US Coast Guard (1975-1984)

mellonView the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

AST2 Bradley Mellon

US Coast Guard

(1975-1984)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/1817

(Veterans – record and share your own service story with friends and family by joiningwww.togetherweserved.com. This is a free service)

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

I can’t point to any one particular influence. I can’t remember a time in my childhood where I had considered anything other than a military career.

Coming of age in the 60’s the Vietnam War was always there “in your face” every night on the evening news. I had two older brothers who enlisted during the war years, one in the Marine Corps, and the other in the Air Force. My father had enlisted in the Navy at 17 during the closing days of World War II and my maternal grandfather served stateside in the Army Air Corps during WWII. On my father’s side my grandfather served in the 29th Infantry Division during WWI and my great uncle, who is buried at Arlington, was one of the original “Devil Dogs” of the Marine Corps in WWI. Another uncle served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Growing up I had my heart set on becoming a Naval Officer and flying helicopters. After graduating High School in 1973 I attended the University of New Mexico for a little more than one year on a Navy ROTC Scholarship. During my summer Midshipman Cruise I sailed to Australia on the USS San Bernardino, a then brand new County Class LST. I had more fun during this cruise then I could possibly describe.

Upon returning to college in the fall I found myself in a dilemma. The summer cruise affecting me enormously, I was anxious to get in uniform and get on with things. I was also now questioning my choice of the Navy. As part of our training we were exposed to the other branches of the service, to include the US Coast Guard. I had never given the Coast Guard any serious consideration, but the more I looked at it the more it seemed to be the fit I was looking for. I spent a couple weeks losing sleep over the decision to “resign” my Midshipman appointment and finally bit the bullet. The day after I arrived home I was in the Recruiter’s office in Mobile, Alabama singing on the dotted line.

BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

While in college and involved in the Navy ROTC program I had asked to be assigned to the Marine Company. Although determined to be a Navy Officer I admired the Marine Corps and wanted to experience some of what their training experience was like. As such, I auditioned for and earned a spot on the Rifle Drill Team.

When I left college and reported aboard TRACEN Alameda in February of 1975 it seemed a natural decision to try out for OSCAR Company, the boot camp Honor Guard. So I found myself in Oscar Bravo 100 as part of the Drill Team. I had my heart set on becoming an Aviation Survival man, but was told the waiting list was a year long. So, I was given three options; stay on at Alameda and become an Assistant Drill Instructor (an option I didn’t feel a Seaman Apprentice was actually qualified for), stay on at Alameda as part of the Deck Force (an option that made the first one look better), or head back east to Alexandria, Virginia and spend a year at the Ceremonial Honor Guard. So a week after graduating boot camp I drove through the front gate of Radio Station Alexandria and found a bunk in an old wooden barracks that looked like it had been built during the Lighthouse Service days!

I spent the next ten months in the Honor Guard seeing and doing some very interesting things. I saw President Ford up close and personal. I was on the South Lawn of the White House when Emperor Hirohito made his first and last official visit to the United States and I was there at Andrews AFB when President Sadat flew home after a “secret” visit with Henry Kissinger.

After ten months I was surprised when I was called into the presence of my Division Officer and was told to go downtown for my flight physical; my orders to ASM “A” School had come in.

After a brief flurry of activity I was once again driving through the front gate, only this time it was at Navy Lakehurst where the Guard’s ASM’s went to “A” School at the Navy’s Parachute Rigger School. PR School was a blast! The highlight of which was jumping out of an old war bird of a DC-3 wearing the first parachute I had ever packed. I tacked on my Crow at “A” School and was off to my first Air Station; CGAS Miami. What can you say about Miami? Warm winters and some of the best SAR you can find in CG Aviation. While at CGAS Miami I flew in the old “Goats” – the HU-16 Albatross, and my personal favorite, the HH-52A single engine helicopter. I had the “honor” of being one of the very first Load/Drop masters in the C-131 that replaced the Albatross while the Falcon jets were being procured.

While here at Miami I was given credit for the seizure of 5 tons of marijuana from a fishing vessel. In addition to being kind of exciting, it also planted a seed that would bloom a few years later.

After two years in Miami I was offered a two year tour at Barbers Point, Hawaii. In order to satisfy the two year tour requirement I had to extend my enlistment for one additional year which wasn’t a hardship as I was still figuring I would be around the Coast Guard for awhile. Getting off an airplane in Hawaii in January, had to be a much better experience than doing the same in a place like Chicago. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere where the weather was more perfect.

The SAR wasn’t as good as it was in Miami, but there wasn’t a more beautiful place on the planet to fly. I wasn’t on the ground in Hawaii for much more than a month, however, before I was on a plane for Minneapolis and C130 Load-master School. I wasn’t all that thrilled with this training assignment as I had become a dyed-in-the-wool helicopter guy and was perfectly content earning my flight pay in the venerable old ’52. But C-130’s proved to be lot of fun. I got to see quite a bit of the Pacific that most don’t get to experience. Midway Island, Kure Atoll, Johnston Island, Kwajalein, Guam, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Yokota, Japan, all from the ramp of the C-130.

I received credit for my first life saving incident, after spotting a civilian pilot, who had been treading water for 12 hours after she ditched her single engine Cessna while on approach to Honolulu. We plucked her out of the water with a flawless water landing and delivered her to a hospital in downtown Honolulu with barely a scratch on her. It was here that the seed planted in Miami began to bloom.

I made 2nd Class while at Barbers Point and reenlisted for another 4 year tour after serving 5 years. I had gotten the Law Enforcement bug and started looking at Coast Guard Intelligence. In January of 1980 I found myself at another front gate, this time at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, DC to attend the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Basic Investigator’s Academy.

At the time there were fewer than 100 Coast Guard Special Agents and even among this small cadre I was a minority. The majority of the agents were Chief Petty Officers and all of them were from the deck force; I was the only air dale in the soup and a 2nd Class Petty Officer to boot. While still in the academy I was told by my soon to be senior agent that he didn’t feel I had sufficient rank to be an agent, nor did he feel that air dales belonged in investigations and he would see to it that I found myself back in uniform.

The future didn’t look too bright at this point, but I graduated and as a new agent was assigned to the Resident Agent in Charge in Baltimore, MD. The Resident Agent offices are meant for experienced investigators, but here I was fresh out of the academy working with just one other agent. Fortunately this agent was a salty Chief Boatswains Mate, named Bob Melia, who had started out driving PBR gunboats in Vietnam with the Navy before swapping uniforms. I was in good hands. We worked out of the U.S. Custom House in Baltimore and had forged a very close relationship with the Customs Patrol Officers who investigated maritime narcotics smuggling – they were a good partner! So good, in fact, that I found a wife working in their personnel division.

Naturally, the folks back in District didn’t like this “close personal relationship” I had developed with the Customs Service and threatened to transfer me away from Baltimore. A heated discussion ensued between my Commander and myself which led him to warn me to watch how I raised my voice with him or I could find myself back in uniform. I sarcastically replied “Do I get to choose my Air Station?” So once again I found myself driving up to a front gate, this time at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama. I had come full circle – I was a mere two miles away from the recruiting office I had enlisted in.

The next two years were decisive ones. With a new wife and new step daughter I found I had to consider a paycheck for the first time in my life over the fun I was having with the Guard. There is no SAR out of Mobile to speak of, but it is the training center for CG Aviation, so I soon found myself on the Standards Board for the HH52 helicopter and I was “giving back” by training new Flight Mechanics. The day came when this enlistment was up and in January of 1984 I walked out of the front gate for the last time to chase a career in civilian law enforcement.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

This is a difficult question. I had many experiences that stand out from others. But in an esoteric sense I think I would have to pick my first “solo” flight as a Search & Rescue Air crewman in the HH52A Helicopter. Training was stressful but this was real!

Three of us were flying out to a large double masted schooner to hoist a young woman who had struck her head on the prop of the schooner’s launch. She was unconscious and bleeding and on the deck of a vessel that would be difficult to hoist from.

I had flown with both pilots many times before on training flights and had the utmost confidence in them. The Aircraft Commander was a former Army helicopter pilot with many hours of combat time in Vietnam behind him. I trusted his judgment, but here we were hovering off the port side of the schooner appraising the situation. The two pilots are discussing options and strategy and I’m quietly listening and waiting for my instructions when the Aircraft Commander says; “Mellon, What do you think?” I was caught off guard at first, then the realization set in – here I was, a 21 year old 3rd Class Petty Officer who was being asked for my input before the pilot decided on a course of action. It dawned on me that I wasn’t just part of the “crew” – in this helicopter there were 3 of us. Our lives were interdependent on one another and the success of this mission was dependent upon all three of us. I wasn’t just the crew – I was part of the “team” that was going to decide how to conduct the hoist. That left an impression on a very impressionable young mind.

For the rest of my career, and even now, I still remember that no matter where a person sits on the “chain-of-command” their opinion matters. Sadly, less than 18 months later both of those pilots died, along with the Flight Mechanic (who was my primary instructor), in a mid air collision with a civilian helicopter while returning to Opa-Locka from a training flight. This was a sad wasteful loss of life that was caused by a distracted tower controller.

OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

Getting my “wings” was a significant event but I think the most meaningful award was my second Commandant’s Letter of Commendation. I received this one after being credited for saving the life of a civilian pilot who ditched her Cessna at sunset while on approach to Honolulu Airport. We searched well into the night with no luck.

At first light we went back out for what we were afraid was going to be a fruitless search. But with a literal Hollywood finish, while on our last leg before calling off the search, I spotted her splashing water about two miles offshore. Even after directing the pilot until she was “off the nose” of the helicopter he still couldn’t see her! He thought I was hallucinating until he got close enough to pick her out of the white caps.

He never understood how I saw her in the first place. Not sure I ever understood either. She ditched and abandoned her plane with no survival gear whatsoever; no PFD, no flare, no signaling device, nothing. She spent 12 hours treading water in an area known for its sharks.

After a flawless water landing I pulled her into the cabin and the first thing she says is: “What the Hell took you so long?” We also received the coveted “Winged S” from Sikorsky aircraft for being members of a life saving crew in a Sikorsky aircraft.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Without a doubt it was Chief Warrant Officer Bob Melia. Bob was an old school Bos’n Mate who cut his teeth in the Navy driving PBR gunboats on the Mekong in Vietnam. Later, when the war was over for us he played a key role in clearing Haiphong Harbor of the mines that were laid there during the war.

Bob was very old school. He may have to show respect for the rank, but the man had to earn his respect. Bob left the Navy and “graduated” to the Coast Guard and found his way to Coast Guard Intelligence as a Special Agent. That’s where I met him fresh out of the Academy and my assignment to the now 2-man office in Baltimore.

To the rest of CGI, I was a young, 2nd Class Airdale who didn’t belong. To Bob I was a Special Agent who carried the exact same badge he did and that was all that mattered to him. He had my respect and loyalty about ten minutes after I met him. About 2 hours later I had his respect; which is probably the biggest honor I received while in the Guard.

As a Special Agent I had entered the world of Captains and Admirals and Bob taught me all he knew of how to navigate those mine filled waters. When Bob was promoted to CWO he promoted himself out of the Special Agent position and he landed at the Marine Safety Office in New Orleans. A few years later I would find myself in New Orleans as a Special Agent with the U.S. Customs Service and I had the pleasure of once again working with Bob on a regular basis.

Bob later became the Godfather to my son, Christopher and oversaw his christening. Only Bob could get the Catholic Church to agree to baptize my son on the ramp of the Coast Guard Air Station in New Orleans using the tail rotor hub from an HH65 helicopter as a baptismal font. Bob was a fine officer, an outstanding Chief and a faithful and loyal friend. We lost him way too soon just a few years ago. Rest Well, Buddy!

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

When I entered Coast Guard Aviation it was a fantasy world to me. I had always been fascinated with helicopters and I considered myself one of the luckiest guys around to actually be flying as a crew member in one.

At first I couldn’t get enough of it, so much so that I forged a friendship with a National Guard pilot whose helicopters were housed in the hangar next to ours at the Opa-Locka, Florida airport. On occasion I would go for a “joyride” with him sitting in the “hell-hole” position of the UH-1 Hueys they flew. We would fly down into the Everglades at dusk skimming the tree tops and just having too good of a time.

On one flight we were returning on one of the blackest nights I can remember. We were hugging the coast line near the Turkey Point nuclear power plant when I noticed what looked like a small “signal” fire on the beach. I looked offshore and in the darkness I could make out the shadow of a large fishing vessel running with its lights out. The 70’s were the “Miami Vice” era and seeing a boat with its lights out was a red flag. As I looked closer I saw a smaller boat running from the fishing vessel to shore, also with its lights out. I asked the pilot if he wanted to go catch some drug smugglers. He replied that was our ball and he flew me back to the Air Station. So here I am, a young 3rd Class Petty Officer, jumping out of an Army helicopter and walking into our Operations Center to explain to the duty officer what I just saw. He tells me to stand fast while he puts in a call to RCC – the Rescue Coordination Center (as it used to be known). He repeats my story to the Duty Officer there, a Commander. He hands the phone to me and says the Commander wants to talk to me. I repeat my story to the Commander, answer a few questions I think were related to my sobriety and then he tells me to hand the phone back to my Duty Officer. After a few more minutes of conversation between the two of them before he hangs up the phone, the Lieutenant gives me a long thoughtful look and tells me; “They are diverting a C-130 from St. Pete, they are getting the DILIGENCE underway, we are calling the Florida Marine Patrol and we are launching the Ready 52 with you on board to go see what there is to see. RCC says if we don’t find anything YOU are buying the gas!” All of a sudden even I was questioning what I saw. Talk about a long flight. We get back to Turkey Point and the Florida Marine Patrol had already taken the shore crew into custody. A forty-two footer had already boarded the Fishing Vessel ATO and found what remained of the marijuana cargo still in its hold. All told, 5 tons of marijuana and a fishing vessel were seized and 5 people arrested. Not a bad finish to a night that started as a joyride with the Army.

The next morning, while in the Survival Shop packing a parachute and listening to the local radio, they report last night’s drug bust as a major news event. Sadly, our District PIO got a bit carried away and gave me the credit, BY NAME over the radio. He did everything but reveal my room number in the barracks. A few minutes later I’m called to the XO’s Office where he explains to me that no good deed EVER goes unpunished. Because of the press release the District had received a few death threats made against me, so as a reward for my actions I was confined to the base for 5 days for my own safety. Shortly after, however, I did receive my first Commandant’s Letter of Commendation for the 5 ton seizure – plus I was relieved of the responsibility of the fuel bill.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?

I left the Coast Guard in 1984 and put on the uniform of a Slidell, Louisiana Police Officer. I have to admit that this was a dream job as well. I enjoyed this job so much, I hated long weekends. But the pay was lousy. A little shy of 3 years as a Police Officer I had to find a better paycheck. The relationships I made with the Customs Service while assigned to CGI bore fruit at this point and I was hired on by the U.S. Customs Service in New Orleans as a Special Agent. I spent the next 9 years in New Orleans investigating drug smuggling by private aircraft, drug smuggling via commercial vessels and Commercial Fraud.

In 1995, I transferred to El Centro, CA where I rounded out my experience by investigating drug smuggling across the Mexican Border. In 2002, I became a Supervisory Special Agent about a year before the Homeland Security Act did away with the Customs Service and created U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) by merging the Customs Office of Investigations with the Immigration & Naturalization Service investigators. I spent my last years before retirement supervising the Human Trafficking Group that targeted criminal organizations profiting in the smuggling of aliens from Mexico into the United States.

I retired in mid 2007 comfortably as a GS-14 and began volunteering with the American Red Cross in their Disaster Services Program. In just the first two years with them I was deployed to the Southern California Wildfires and two hurricanes in Louisiana. All told it was a fruitful 30 year career.

In some respects I feel like I didn’t leave the Coast Guard as my 9 years with them counted towards my retirement. I can say without reservation that had it not been for my time in the Coast Guard I would not have had the career I had, and it has finally come full circle. The week after Christmas I found myself at the offices of the San Diego Coast Guard Sector as my wife, son and I finished our paperwork to sign on as volunteers with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. So, I get to put the uniform back on. My adventure with the Coast Guard hasn’t ended just yet!

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

Having the good fortune to comfortably retire at a relatively young age (52) I was faced with the enviable problem of how to fill my days! I have been volunteering with the American Red Cross beginning on my first day of retirement. Working with them in the Disaster Services Program has been very rewarding, but waiting for disasters to strike isn’t the best way to occupy your time.

It seems the older I get the more I appreciate and reminisce over my days in uniform with the Coast Guard. It seemed a natural progression to find my way to the Coast Guard Auxiliary. So in late December of 2010 I, along with my wife and son, we “enlisted” in the Coast Guard Auxiliary in San Diego.

As I write this we are still waiting for the background process to work its way through the pipeline so we haven’t gotten past the front door as yet. Hopefully, in the near future, I’m looking forward to opening a recruiting program here in California’s Imperial Valley.

As previously stated I have the good fortune of retiring comfortably on a Government pension. I guess I haven’t gotten old enough to feel that what I get paid each month has been “deserved.” I still feel obliged to do something to earn my paycheck. Through the Red Cross and now the CG Auxiliary I think I feel like I’m earning my keep.

HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?

My 9 years in the Coast Guard was most definitely the foundation that I built my career on. What I learned about Public Service I learned from the Coast Guard and throughout the rest of my career I worked very hard to bring to work the ethic and determination that was taught to me. The idea that it was not merely a paycheck ever left me and that what I did was serving a cause much larger and much more important than ‘I’ as an individual. As a supervisor what I learned in the Coast Guard served me very well. I learned so much from the good Officers and Chiefs I had the honor to serve with, but maybe even more importantly, I learned so much more from the bad Officers and Chiefs I had the misfortune of serving with.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?

Don’t wait until 20 years after you get out of the Guard to realize the amazing adventure you are having right now. The time you are spending right now has the potential to become the foundation that you build the rest of your life on. Take advantage of every opportunity, but NEVER, NEVER forget who it is you are serving. There is no sacrifice in Public Service – only the privilege of being able to serve.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?

It is true. There is no such thing as an EX-COASTIE. By jumping into this website I have been able to link back up with old shipmates I served with and once again, for a brief while, I get to be 22 years old again! Once you put on the uniform you become part of a family that stays with you long after you’ve put the uniform away. Togetherweserved.com serves as a good forum for family reunions.

5
Oct

CWO3 Grady H Stribling US Coast Guard (Ret) (1964-1985)

Read the service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman

gradyCWO3 Grady H Stribling

US Coast Guard (Ret)

(1964-1985)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/5200

(Veterans – record and share your own service story with friends and family by joining www.togetherweserved.com. This is a free service)

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

1During most of my childhood, life at home was not good. My parents moved frequently and eventually divorced when I was 12 years old. At this time my brother, Jim, enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. By the time I reached 16 years old, I had enough of my family’s problems. On the advice from my brother and with my mother’s approval, I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard when I turned 17 and departed for boot camp in January, 1964.

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

After Boot Camp March, 1964, I was assigned to the Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May,NJ as an Electrician’s Mate “striker”. I advanced to Fireman (E-3). I was transferred to the Coast Guard Training Center, Groton, CT, Electrician’s Mate School. After satisfactorily completing 16 weeks of training, I was transferred to the 13th Coast Guard District, USCGC Winona, homeported at Port Angeles, WA. I advanced to 3rd Class Petty Officer after six months aboard the Winona. The Winona completed underway training in San Diego, CA, one Ocean Station November, and one Alaska Bering Sea Patrol during my tour.

1966 transferred to 1st Coast Guard District, Boston, MA, Pre-Com Detail, USCGC Atka. Sailed the CGC Atka to Baltimore, MD where she was placed in a 6 month shipyard availability period. We sailed to Bermuda on a shakedown cruise during which time a request to rename the ship “Southwind” was approved by the Commandant. After shakedown the “Southwind” completed a 6 month patrol in the Artic. While enroute I advanced to 2nd Class Petty Officer with duties as ship’s electrician and propulsion throttleman. Upon returning to her homeport of Curtis Bay, MD Coast Guard Yard, December 1967 my enlistment ended.

After 1 1/2 years as a civilian I re-enlisted as a 2nd 2Class Electrician’s Mate (June, 1969) and was assigned to Coast Guard Base, Mayport, FL. During my 2 year assignment I advanced to 1st Class Petty Officer, responsible for maintenance and repair of electrical systems on shore stations and small boats.

1971 received orders to Vietnam via the Coast Guard Training Center, Alameda, CA for training in Weapons, Explosives Loading Supervisor, SERE and Orientation. I was assigned to Senior Coast Guard Officer Vietnam (SCGOV). My primary responsibility repairs to maritime Aids to Navigation, secondary responsibility Explosive Loading Supervisor.

During my tour I re-enlisted for a period of 4 years and received approval for my request to attend the US Navy’s Advanced Electrician’s Mate School. 1972 reported to US Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL. After 33 weeks of intense training I graduated with honors being #1 in the class.

I received orders to US Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay, CA as the 1st Class Electrician’s Mate in charge of the Electric Shop. We made repairs to electrical systems and equipment throughout the Group.

1974 transferred to the CGC Red Cedar, Portsmouth, VA. Only electrician responsible for maintenance and repair of electrical system and equipment. I stood EWO watches. Made #1 on the list for Chief Petty Officer in 1975.

3Transferred to the 5th District Naval Engineering (ene) Assist Team. The most significant duty during tour was the design and refit of the CGC Cherokee DC power distribution system to AC power distribution system.

In 1977 I transferred to USCGC Yocona, Astoria, OR. I readjusted and repaired the DC main propulsion system which gave the Yocona the ability to complete full power trials. I made #1 on the list for Senior Chief Petty Officer and advanced in January, 1979. We performed fisheries patrol and made major drug bust on the Helena Star for several tons of marijuana.

August, 1979 discharged as an enlisted man and took the oath as a Chief Warrant Officer with duty assignment to the 1st Coast Guard District Naval Engineering (ene) Type Desk Officer for lightships and buoytenders.

1982 transferred to Coast Guard Group Mayport, FL as the Engineering Officer.

Retired August, 1985.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

4Yes, I was in Vietnam in support of combat operations. I repaired maritime Aids to Navigation equipment, i.e. buoys for navigating major channels up and down the coast of Vietnam. As a secondary job function, I supervised the offloading of 500/1000 lb. bombs from an ammunition ship to barges which were towed up the Saigon River to the ammo dump. I participated in the replacement of the main power distribution panel which blew up at CG Tan My Loran Station.

WHICH, OF THE VESSELS OR DUTY STATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?

CGC Winona, my first sea duty assignment to Ocean Station November and the Bering Sea Fisheries, Law Enforcement Patrol.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The most memorable moment of my career was having my wife attach my shoulder boards and my son present during my commissioning to Chief Warrant Officer.

OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

5The Coast Guard Achievement Medal with a Combat V, it was awarded to me from the Commandant in recognition for my meritorious service in Vietnam while serving with the Aids to Navigation Detail under the command of Senior Coast Guard Officer of Vietnam.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Commander Donald Hoffer, USCG, Chief of Naval Engineering (ene), 5th Coast Guard District. In the establishment of the 5th District Naval Engineering Assist Team, Commander Hoffer had the confidence and assurance in our ability to perform emergency repairs to vessels and special projects. His approach to us was “there was nothing that we couldn’t do as long as we were provided the funding”.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

6When I was assigned to a certain vessel there were times when we were on fisheries and law enforcement patrols, the Captain would drop anchor to allow us to fish off the fantail. Whenever “fish call” was announced over the PA system, the Engineering Officer was always first to get the prime spot on the fantail for fishing.

One particular time at “fish call”, many of us assembled and of course the EO was already there at his prime spot. However, this time a seagull flew over where the EO stood and dropped a “present” on the top of the EO’s buzzed head which ran down his face and neck.

Consequently, someone else was able to fish the EO’s prime spot.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?

Ship repair and new ship construction as Electrical Dept. Supervisor. Now permanently retired.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

7The Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, the benefit is receiving Association news and notices and featured articles about the Coast Guard in combat.

HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?

I try to keep my life structured, realizing the responsibility of my family and others. I always try to do any job right the first time.

I believe it is important for a supervisor to train his personnel especially one that could do his job in the event he wasn’t available.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?

8Learn to listen. Take your work seriously. Study and advance in rank.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?

TWS has given me the ability to contact several of my shipmates that I served with. I have enjoyed the memories as I have gone through all my service records and photos for posting to my profile on TWS. I also have the opportunity to make and have made new friends through TWS. I especially like the military structure that TWS emphasizes.

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