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Posts tagged ‘Coast Guard History’

1
May

National Coast Guard Museum

Since 1790, the brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard have been standing the watch for you. Night and day, in good weather and bad, its devoted members have been the first responders when disaster strikes at sea. For 226 years, the Coast Guard has tirelessly answered the call for our Nation, saving lives, enforcing maritime law, combating terrorism, and protecting the environment from oil spills and pollution.

As the oldest continuous seagoing service within the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the day-to-day protection of the United States and waterways around the globe. Some of the most impactful moments of our Nation’s history would not have been as successful were it not for the Coast Guard.

Remarkably, the Coast Guard is the only armed service branch without a national museum. When opportunities arose to receive Federal funding, this traditionally underfunded agency has consistently prioritized operations over building a museum. It will take all of our efforts to bring a museum to life.

We will add a National Coast Guard Museum to our Nation’s most sacred military heritage sites. The first of its kind museum will give the U.S. Coast Guard the venue it deserves to showcase its rich and important history, while educating current and future generations about the value of this military branch. The museum will provide the Coast Guard with a national platform to share its crucial role in saving and protecting lives and commerce along America’s waterways.

The National Coast Guard Museum will be constructed on the historic waterfront of downtown New London, Connecticut. The Coast Guard has celebrated a presence in New London since 1791 and will incorporate the nearby Coast Guard Academy and USCG Research and Development Center in the Museum;s story. Additionally,: America’s Tall Ship”, the Coast Guard Barque EAGLE will adorn the waterfront while home ported at the New London City Pier adjacent to the Museum.

Once built, museum patrons will have a place to witness the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard, participate in some of the service’s most dramatic rescues, explore longtime industry and civic partnerships, and see firsthand what it is to be Semper Paratus: Always Ready.

The museum will provide an immersive educational experience for visitors of all ages. In particular, the museum’s STEM Learning Center will be a physical hub inside the museum with a global reach via its on-site, outreach, and virtual programs, that will engage and support today’s youth inspiring them to become tomorrow’s critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. We envision the STEM Learning Center’s programs will complement school curriculum to inspire student’s early interest in STEM fields and will provide support in cultivating that interest as teenagers. Additionally, displays will connect museum patrons with real-time missions via streaming video. This virtual element will allow visitors to see servicemen and women conduct marine environmental inspections in Long Beach, California, rescue missions off the coast of New England, drug interventions along the Gulf Coast, and tug boat regulations on the Mississippi River. Interactive exhibits will engage the public in science and engineering challenges, using principles of aeronautics, propulsion, informatics, meteorology, navigation, and other Coast Guard-related sciences.

Under the direction of a distinguished Board of Directors and Honorary Board, the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc. launched a national fundraising campaign in June 2013 to build this museum. With a ceremonial groundbreaking in May 2014, the effort got underway with noteworthy gifts from J.D. Power III, founder of J.D. Power & Associates and Coast Guard veteran; Boysie Bollinger, founder of Bollinger Shipyards; and support from major American Waterway Operator companies. Augmented by a commitment of $20 million in funding from the State of Connecticut and recent changes in our Federal Authorization, we have embarked on a $100 million capital campaign as the project moves from the design to construction phase. We are taking great strides to generate the capital necessary to design and build a museum worthy of our Coast Guard and your philanthropy.  Discover more by visiting us at www.CoastGuardMuseum.org

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.

5
Oct

LT David Potter U.S. Coast Guard (Served 1968-1973)

Read the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardsman

profile1LT David Potter

U.S. Coast Guard

(1968-1973)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/David.Potter
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

Spring 1968, the Vietnam war was very hot and heavy. Politicians were screaming about men hiding in colleges. I finished my college degree (B.S., wildlife biology, Washington State University) and had received a research assistant full scholarship to Penn State for a masters degree studying wood ducks. Drove 90 miles,
including changing a flat tire on a snowy road shoulder, to hear my draft board take minimal time to decide I would be drafted if I didn’t get into an Officer program.

My father and I (B-52 Command & Instructor Pilot, retired full Colonel) judged this war a politically controlled, tragic lost cause. Left the draft board building trying to remember where I had parked in downtown Spokane, WA and very much wondering what was next? Both the Air Force and Navy Officer Candidate programs had informed me they were full. I knew things were getting very serious!

After the draft board’s “influence” I have to credit God’s provision – although I didn’t recognize it at the time. Looking for my car on a side street I notice a Coast Guard recruiting office sign up ahead. Months before my dad had suggested the Coast Guard but, typical young person, I had forgot about it. Inside I found one man, a Chief Petty Officer still at work. Friendly, he called Seattle for the results of my Navy Officer candidate test. Obtained them by phone and then informed me he could work with me. I was relieved!

After several months of waiting on “pins and needles” I was told to report for induction as a US Coast Guard Officer Candidate, Yorktown, Virginia. O.C.S. is another story but I soon realized I was “second string” in the toughest course work ever. Studied hard for only average grades. (Even had to repeat the Navigation final test having failed first time. Yet ended up the ship’s navigator on my last, third, polar icebreaker patrol on the USCGC State Island, WAGB-278.)

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?

Surviving O.C.S., my choice of preferred duty station was decided by a women, not so unusual for young guys. She soon became my wife (45 years so far.) I requested anything out of Seattle and, good duty as I reflect on it, got the Seattle based icebreaker Staten Island, WAGB-268, as a deck officer.

I was the only junior officer on the bridge not a Coast Guard Academy grad and with an Boatswain’s Mate Mustang, O-6, Commanding Officer , E.F. Walsh, that made no bones about “eating Ensigns and J.G.’s for breakfast.” Joined the ship in Kodiak, AK standing at the brow as a crew member’s body was carried off. The story of his loss, later told me by the Academy Officer, John Vitt, involved who saved another crew member, reflected badly on the C.O.

I finished my qualification book quickly while standing open ocean bridge watches then in the ice as Trainee under a qualified Officer of the Deck. Many, many times I endured a chewing out by the Old Man, sometimes in front of the enlisted men. Even though I was no baby, raised in a military family and worked as a farm laborer summers starting at 15, I found his tirades very hard to take.

He was not liked. It was said he wouldn’t go out on the weather decks at night underway. This was a time of drugs on military ships. Bad officers were being fragged in Vietnam. In the arctic for one 3 month and one 5 month patrol (no liberty in arctic Alaska) with this C.O. on a worn, WW II era ship was hell.

This Captain plus the few dumb and somewhat sadistic ‘lifer” Petty Officers – among the many good Petty Officers – I encountered confirmed no way was I making this a career. I must say that the three O-6 C.O.’s after that (Capt. Putzke, Capt. McCormick, Capt. Gershowitz) were all very good bosses. But the die was cast.

My last patrol was with Capt. Putzke who took the time to teach me ship handling. He even coached me coning the ship through the outer approaches to Kodiak harbor. Boy was I a nervous wreck before he finally had the XO take her to the dock. It was a good trip if being stuck on a ship for 3 months can be termed “good.”

As a Ltjg, I next went to the Seattle Captain of the Port office, Pier 91 as an Admin Officer, Search and Rescue duty officer [all of Puget Sound] and Oil Spill Response Officer. Worked in the same room as the XO, Lt. Commander Purdy, great guy.

Capt. McCormick and Capt. Gershowitz treated me well. Surprise, Capt. Gershowitz even asked me if I’d stay in.

Having been a college student trainee, I had a job waiting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in wildlife refuge management. So I requested and received a 6 month early out.

My wife and I happily departed Seattle for rural Oregon, September 1971.

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 remember several more significant events. One was as we nearly completed my second arctic patrol we diverted to Nome, AK to receive spare parts and food supplies flown in so we could relieve our sister ship, USCGC Northwind, which had engine troubles. We were extended for two more months,five months total, escorting the experimental ice breaker oil tanker, SS Manhatten, from Pt. Barrow across the top eastward through the Northwest Passage and south to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Manhatten was an experiment to see if Prudoe Bay oil could be moved by oil tanker rather than building the oil pipeline across Alaska.

We joined one more modern and one nearly new Canadian icebreakers, the John A. McDonald and the Louis Saint Luran. They broke ice much better than we. One time Capt. Walsh authorized me to radio the St. Luran to free us from being stuck. A beautiful ship, she promptly drove through the solid ice to cut ahead of us making a path for us to follow.

We made New York in mid November having learned the ice breaker tanker idea was a failure. Liberty there, San Juan Puerto Rico and Acapulo made up for short rations and many long months at sea. Ran the Panama Canal at night so not much to see. Learned our fresh water evaporators didn’t function well with warm seawater so we were stuck with sea water showers, bad news in that hot climate.

We were told the Staten Island was the seventh surface ship to circumnavigate North America. As photography officer I received, and still have, a copy of nearly all pictures our photographer, Petty Officer Meeks took. He was a great guy.

At Captain of the Port I was ordered to travel to one of our 82 foot patrol boats, CGC Pt. Doran as I remember, to investigate it hitting and releasing too many crabs from a commercial holding cage. Pt. Doran’s C.O., a Chief, was nervous explaining the situation to me, a young JG. Having served as a Deck Officer, I understood his worries and the operational particulars. I subsequently wrote a report absolving him of any negligence. XO Purdy told me Capt. McCormick was very strict on written reports. He and I were relieved when the C.O. signed off on my findings without ordering any changes. I was happy to have done all I could to protect the Chief’s career.

Also at Captain of the Port, I was ordered west to Port Angeles, WA to board the 82 footer there to shadow a Communist Block ship’s passage to Seattle. Run by a Chief Petty Officer, I became the Senior Officer aboard for the trip. It was made necessary by a recent very high level political flap on the Atlantic Coast. A Seamen on a Communist ship had jumped over the side to the deck of a Coast Guard boat to get asylum. The Communists demanded him back. The Junior Officer commanding the boat radioed for direction but, as I was told about it, received none before finally deciding to force the man back. I was given clear orders that we would not do that without clear direction should a Seamen try it in Puget Sound. The run went smoothly; Chief ran his boat and no one tried to defect.

On the military side, in the arctic we gathered information across the top including north of Russia. I was in the wardroom one morning when word came down that a radar contact was coming in very fast. I ran outside in time to see a Mig blast straight in and over us low and very fast. We had seen a few Russian ice patrol prop planes drone over but that Mig zooming overhead really made an impression on me in those Cold War times.

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 assignment was serving as the Captain of the Port X.O.’s (Lt. Cdr. Purdy) Administrative Officer. My desk was immediately behind the X.O.’s desk. Formal in front of others, he and I talked informally most days. He often leaned back in his chair to hand me paperwork, like the Federal Register, to read and discuss. He assigned many unusual jobs such as leading our safety supervision of dynamite loading at Dupont, WA, serving on a court marshal board at District 13 headquarters, the previously mentioned accident investigation and defector run as well as several others.

My least favorite was the first arctic patrol, three months, just trying to survive at sea learning many things my peers, academy junior officers, already knew before coming aboard – while being seasick upon entering open water from the ice or land. This under the often haranguing of a miserable, mean, bully of a Captain, as above. It was hell.

Also “least favorite” was going to sea the first time rolling along in the Gulf of Alaska out of Kodiak, AK being both sea sick and hung over. Not good!

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

I have already described lots of this. Capt. Walsh sure impacted me greatly. He was the first evil boss I had to work for at close quarters. He forced me to endure.

Another thing that impacted me was having to do things I did not fully know how to do. In college I did things after being taught how to do them. The Coast Guard represented the real world where you often must begin doing things before you really know all about how to do them.

Couple of examples: I was assigned as a Search and Rescue Duty Officer involving 24 hour watches for all of Puget Sound, WA. It involved commanding, outside normal working hours, several 40 foot patrol boats at Pier 91 and three 82 foot patrol boats stationed around Puget Sound. First time I assumed the watch after hours I was somewhat flustered about the responsibilities. But it all worked out as the men running the radio watch and the patrol boats knew what they were doing.

Another vivid example occurred in the arctic when I was assigned to be the Boat Officer in charge of a landing craft to do something I forget what. I had never been in one of these boats let alone driving it in the ocean. Before departing, the Operations Officer, Lt. Haines, took me aside to warn that Capt. Walsh would be watching and whatever I did do not ram the side of the ship as I came alongside. I said I sure would be careful. I am sure many others were seeing what I could do. Since I had run a family water ski boat for many years, I had some idea what to do. Ended up carefully approaching the ship and laying alongside with only the slightest, gentle bump. Since it was a smooth job no one had any comments.

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.

Last of the 60’s and early 70’s was not a good time to be a young person in the military. Off the ship in Seattle we shed uniforms as fast as we could.

I endured too much bad treatment in O.C.S., from my first C.O. and bullying academy Junior Officers.Off duty drinking at a party I once faced one of them down who was very angry and in my face holding my shirt front. I dared him to take the first punch before I knocked the stuffing out of him. He looked at me and then walked away. All of this abuse added to being forced to give up civilian life and my masters degree.

I walked away with nothing: no recognition, no award and no party. Only one small positive event was my C.O. earlier asking me to re-up. I refrained from laughing at him; he was a good guy.

I am most proud of surviving! A wildlife biologist prone to sea sickness on the bridge conning the ship in the open ocean and in the ice.

Guess I am proud of qualifying without delay as a Ice OOD – Office of the Deck. And being made Ship’s Navigator for my third arctic patrol – even as my Quartermaster Chief Petty Officer took care of things for me; good guy.

After all these years, I am proud – since I had to serve – to have made the grade in the U.S. Coast Guard. Best outfit going.

It confirmed to me years later that I had “made the grade” when I was promoted to an 0-3, Lt., billet in the Inactive Reserve even without having a unit in which to drill. More and more I can remember the good guys rather than the bad.

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?

I guess I covered this pretty well previously. No badges or other recognition.

What I will highlight are the good guys. And I sure mean the Enlisted men as well as the Officers. Lots of good guys!

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

I remember a number of good guys. But I don’t remember anyone who made a significant positive impact on me. I suppose that was because I’d already graduated college and begun a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when the draft board forced me into the military. Do my time and get back to my life’s work was my attitude.

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?

A good guy I haven’t yet mentioned was Yeoman First Class J. J. Begert. Very capable, friendly guy always joshing, starting false rumors and running around. Very important after months cooped up looking out at snow and ice.

One night about 2 a.m., I was the Junior OOD in mixed open water and ice conning the ship zig zagging around big chunks of ice at slow speed trying to stay close to the intended course. The OOD was inside the bridge. I drove from outside at an exposed bridge wing. I rounded a turn intending to hit and break off a small neck of ice extending from a large chunk. Hit it fine but it did not break off! Even at slow speed the ship slid up on the ice coming to a shuddering stop healing sharply to starboard. As we slide off backwards the OOD came running out to see what I had done. He, and I, were worried that I had awakened the C.O. and we’d get a fanny chewing. Lucked out, must have been sound asleep. Rest of the watch was uneventful.

Next night Yeoman Begert requested permission to come on the Bridge. I approved and turned to see him coming up the ladder wearing a life jacket and a big grin. Laughingly I asked him just what he was doing? He said he’d come up to see because the crew wanted to know if I was driving again? Did they need life jackets? Or to hook up their “seat belts” in their bunks? Begert happily informed me that I had rolled more than a few of them out of their bunks last night. Ha, ha, ha. I told him to get off the Bridge as I, and others, laughed.

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?

While in the Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required by law to hold my job and award me the salary step increases I would have earned when I returned. I was happy they met that commitment.

From Seattle my wife and I U-Hauled to the “paradise” of rural south central Oregon on the dry [east] side of the Cascade Mountains to Klamath Falls, Oregon. I joined the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges as a Junior Assistant Manager, GS-7, Sept. 1971.

Back then transfers were required for promotions. I served on wildlife refuges in Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Illinois and, finally, settled into 21 years as a refuge and wetlands manager in North Dakota. We raised our three kids there.

After many years managing fee owned and conservation easement lands in North Dakota, I started asking for details to other jobs. I served details in our Denver Regional Office, in Main Interior in downtown Washington D.C. and the US Bureau of Reclamation in Loveland, Colorado.

1993 I was sent to Guam as the first on island refuge representative during the process of establishing the Guam National Wildlife Refuge on former secret Navy land at Ratidian Point within Anderson Air Force Base. I enjoyed three more assignments to the Guam Refuge as acting refuge manager in the 1990s. Made some life friends on Guam to this day.

2001 I enjoyed another interesting detail as acting refuge manager to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. I can report the “Gooney Birds” (Laysan albatross) and many other bird species are doing very well. Exterminating rats was a big help and removing lead paint [chips poisoning birds] has and will help a great deal.

2001 I was to be reassigned to a staff job in the Denver Regional Office. With 3 years Coast Guard and 32 1/2 with Fish and Wildlife, I bailed out at age 54 1/2 as a refuge and wetland management district complex manager, GS-14.

Retirement has been great. I have enjoyed two volunteer trips back to the Guam Refuge and one back to Midway Atoll Refuge. Lots of backpacking and rafting trips, including down the Grand Canyon, and beach camping on the Big Island, Hawaii.

To fill time, I gave substitute school teaching a shot and found I love it. [Oregon allows folks with any college degree to get a special, limited teaching license if sponsored by a school district.] I’m in my 15 year as a Klamath Falls Public Schools substitute teacher. I’ve done everything from high school honors chemistry [only once!] to early childhood education, 3-5 year old kids. I’ve come to be often used in special education elementary classes – enjoy that the most. But I do all other elementary level class. Decided to not endure the stress of trying to help older students.

I am busy with my church and various local and national conservation efforts. National Audubon Society flew me to D.C. twice to join others lobbying Congress folks.

Life is good.

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

Together We Serve is the only Coast Guard group I’ve encountered. I enjoy reading folks’ reflections and scanning the other military stories. TWS has, so far, facilitated one contact with a shipmate – which I much appreciate.

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

Well O.C.S. and shipboard survival surely toughened me up! It was a very fast and steep maturing curve even as I had four summer’s experienced as a farm laborer, ages 15-18 and worked through high school

My dad was a career bomber pilot (flew in the Berlin Airlift and piloted loaded B-52s during the Cold War, retired full Colonel) so I grew up understanding the military approach. Dad sure taught me the value of good Sergeants (our Petty Officers) to an Officer’s success.

My Coast Guard time solidified me on an approach of letting the good ones alone to do their job and keep me out of trouble. I well understood the O.C.S. teaching that Petty Officers could let you “run on the rocks” literally or figuratively if you failed to treat them with respect. And I sure served with many good ones that helped me along.

Civilian world they call this “delegating.” Many civilian delegators take time to learn you can not delegate the final responsibility. Whether conning the ship through dangerous ice, running a large wildlife refuge or being the teacher with several paraprofessional aides assisting, the approach is the same.

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

These days nobody is forced to join the military. Therefore it is a person’s choice. She or he should avail themselves of the excellent opportunities (and benefits and retirement) that military service offers.

I have told more than one young person who doesn’t know where they are going in life that military service is a great option. Especially true if you are young and have only a high school education. I go on to say that if you want the satisfaction of saving lives and otherwise helping people, the U.S. Coast Guard is the best outfit. If I get the chance I tell them that the Guard is highly selective so if you can make it in you will most likely will serve with a large majority of good, hard working people.

If the youngster is interested I point out that course work, including higher education is available right at you unit in the Coast Guard. (And I sometimes mention the Navy.) Promotions are based on good work on deck as well as on correspondence courses. Enlisted promotions can happen based on your hard work in the Coast Guard in my experience. And I sure hope it still is that way!

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

It has caused me to think about things I have not in many decades. I have grown to be proud of the U.S. Coast Guard and to dwell on the three out of four great C.O.s I had and the other great people and experiences.

The Hurricane Katrina response sure made me proud. After 9/11 I offered to come back to help after reading there was a need. To the Coast Guard’s credit I received a call from a respectful Petty Offices saying “thanks but no thanks.” Much better than the normal “no response.”

3
Oct

Profile in Courage: Heroes of the Coast Guard

Within days of their Dec. 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Navy occupied scores of islands throughout the western Pacific Ocean. Japan’s goal was to create a defensive buffer against attack from the United States and its Allies – one that would ensuretheir mastery over East Asia and the Pacific. It wasn’t until the United States’ strategic victories at the Battles of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) and Midway (June 4-7, 1942) finally halted the Japanese Empire’s expansion that the Allies were free to unleash an offensive.

The strategically-located Solomon Island chain, lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and critical to protecting the supply lines between the U.S. and Australia, was selected as the place to begin the island-hopping offensive campaign to take the Pacific back from the Japanese. The Solomon Island operation, America’s first amphibious operation since 1898, lasted six months and consisted of a number of major battles – on land, at sea and in the air.

American forces first landed on the Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida on the morning of August 7, 1942. It took some very fierce fighting, but the Marines cleared Tulagi and Florida in two days. The main American forces on Guadalcanal met little resistance on their way inland to secure the airfield at Lunga Point (later renamed Henderson Field). Almost immediately, Japanese naval aircraft attacked transport and escort ships, and Japanese reinforcements were sent to the area. The fight for control of Guadalcanal and the surrounding seas continued for months with no clear winner, while both sides continued to lose men, ships and aircraft.

It seemed that every time the U.S. achieved a hard-fought victory, the Japanese would resupply Guadalcanal by night via the infamous “Tokyo Express” fast destroyer resupply chain and be ready for more fighting the next day. But eventually, U.S. forces gained the upper hand, and by February 1943, after six months of deadly and costly combat, the Japanese withdrew the last of their men and conceded the island to the Allies.

Guadalcanal was also the Coast Guard’s first major participation in the Pacific Campaign. These men were assigned a vital role in the landings – the operation of amphibious-type assault craft. Many of the Coast Guard Coxswains (who are in charge of the navigation and steering of a boat) came from Life-Saving Stations, and their training and experience with small boats in treacherous waters close to shore made them the most-qualified small-boat handlers for the crucial task of landing fighting men on the beaches. One such boat handler was Douglas Munro.

Douglas Albert Munro was born on October 11, 1919, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His father, James Munro, who originally hailed from California, and his mother, Edith Thrower Fairey from Liverpool, England, settled their small family of four in South Cle Elum, Washington, just outside of Seattle, where they raised young Douglas and his elder sister Pat. Douglas remained in South Cle Elum, from grade school through high school graduation in 1937, and then attended the Central Washington College of Education in nearby Ellensburg, Washington.

Munro and his friend from Seattle, Raymond Evans, eventually enlisted in the Coast Guard in Sept. 1939, the same month that Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. They served together on a Higgins boat landing craft off Guadalcanal during the Second Battle of the Matanikau, where both gained national acclaim for their heroic rescue operation that saved a Marine Corps unit trapped behind enemy lines.

Munro initially volunteered for duty on board the USCG Cutter Spencer, where he served until 1941 and earned his Signalman 3rd Class rating. In June 1941, President Roosevelt directed the Coast Guard to man four large transports and serve in mixed crews on board twenty-two naval ships. When word arrived that these ships needed Signalmen, Munro repeatedly requested and was finally granted permission to transfer to the USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14).

The “Lucky” Liggett was a 535 foot, 13,712 ton ship and was one of the largest attack transports in the Pacific. She carried nearly 700 Officers and men and thirty-five landing boats, including thirty-three LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel, or Higgin’s boats) and two LCMs (Landing Craft Mechanized). In April 1942, the Liggett sailed to Wellington, New Zealand, to prepare for a major campaign in the south Pacific.

As the task force gathered, Munro, now a Signalman First Class, was assigned to temporary duty on the staff of Commander, Transport Division Seventeen. During the preparations for the invasion, he was transferred from ship to ship, as his talents were needed. The task force rendezvoused at sea near the end of July, and on August 7, the Liggett led the other transports to their anchorage off Guadalcanal, serving as the amphibious task force command post until the Marines secured the beaches.

At the time of the invasion, Munro was attached to the staff of Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner on board the smaller 9,600-ton attack transport USS McCawley (APA-4). He made the landing on Tulagi Island where fierce fighting lasted for several days. About two weeks later, Munro was sent twenty miles across the channel to Guadalcanal where the Marines had landed and had driven inland. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ensued, and the Americans quickly seized the island’s airfield.

After the initial landings at Guadalcanal, Munro and twenty-four other Coast Guard and Navy personnel were assigned to the newly-established base at Lunga Point. The base was commanded by CDR Dwight H. Dexter, USCG, who was in charge of all the small boat operations on Guadalcanal. Situated on the Lever Brothers coconut plantation, the base consisted of a small house with a newly constructed coconut tree signal tower, and Munro was assigned there because of his Signalman rating. The base served as the staging area for troop movements along the coast. To facilitate this movement, a pool of landing craft from the numerous transports lay there to expedite the transportation of supplies and men.

A month into the campaign, the Marines on the island were reinforced and decided to push beyond their defensive perimeter. They planned to advance west across the Matanikau River to prevent smaller Japanese units from combining and striking American positions in overwhelming numbers. For several days near the end of September, the Marines tried to cross the Matanikau River from the east and each time met tremendous resistance. On Sunday, Sept. 27, Marine LtCol Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, embarked three companies of his 7th Marines in landing craft to land west of the river, drive out the Japanese and establish a patrol base on the west side of the Matanikau.

Just two weeks short of his twenty-third birthday, Munro took charge of ten LCPs (Landing Craft Personnel) and LCTs (Landing Craft Tank, or tank lighters) from the landing craft contingent at the Lunga Point base that were dispatched to transport Puller’s men to a small cove west of Point Cruz. The destroyer USS Monssen initiated the assault shortly after noon with a covering barrage from her five-inch guns. 500 Marines, led by Maj. Ortho L. Rodgers, landed unopposed in two waves at 1 PM, then pushed inland and reorganized on a ridge about 500 yards from the beach.

Unbeknownst to Maj. Rodgers’ Marines, a high level Japanese air raid of 17 bombers struck Henderson Field as they were disembarking on the beach, interrupting the Marine’s communication net and preventing word of unexpectedly strong Japanese forces from being relayed to Puller from a party of Marine Raiders probing further up the west side of the Matanikau River. The air raid also forced the support ships, including the Monssen and its supporting firepower, to temporarily get under way and withdraw from the vicinity of the island, denying the crucial fire support the Marines would immediately need.

At approximately 1:50 PM, as they reached the ridge, an overwhelming Japanese force struck Puller’s Marines from west of the river. This catastrophic situation deteriorated even further when Maj. Rodgers was killed and one of the Company Commanders was wounded. The Marines were stranded with no fire support or communications, facing superior enemy numbers, and in imminent danger of being surrounded and annihilated.

After landing the Marines, Munro returned to Lunga Point with his landing craft. A single LCP manned by Coast Guard Petty Officer Ray Evans and Navy Coxswain Samuel B. Roberts remained behind to take off the immediate wounded, staying extremely close to the beach to expedite the process. Meanwhile, Japanese forces that had worked their way behind the Marine landing party suddenly fired a machine gun burst that hit the LCP, severing the rudder cable and disabling the boat’s steering controls. After jury-rigging the rudder, Roberts was struck by enemy fire and Evans managed to jam the controls to full ahead and sped back to Lunga Point Base. Unable to stop, the LCP ran onto the beach at 20 mph. Roberts later died but was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

As the shot-up boat piloted by Evans arrived back at the Lunga Point base, the plight of the Marines was not known, since they had failed to take a radio and were unable to communicate their predicament, and the bombing raid had driven the destroyer Monssen out of visual range with the Marines. However, the enterprising Marines used their under-shirts to spell out the word “HELP” on a ridge not far from the beach, and “Cactus Air Force” pilot Second Lieutenant Dale Leslie, flying out of Henderson Field in a Douglas SBD “Dauntless” naval scout plane/dive bomber, spotted the message and passed it by radio to another Marine unit. Word quickly arrived that the Marines were in trouble and were being driven back toward the beach.

At 4 P.M., Lt. Col. Puller, realizing that his men were isolated and endangered, embarked on Monssen to personally direct the covering fire for the Marines who were desperately trying to reach the beach for extraction. Puller re-established communications with his surrounded Marines via visual signals and directed the Monssen to blast a path through the Japanese to provide a route for his surrounded Marines to return back to the beach.

The landing crafts had meanwhile been readied at Lunga Point. Again, virtually the same boats that had put the Marines on the beach were assembled to extract them. Douglas Munro, who had taken charge of the original landing, volunteered to lead the boats back to the beach. None of these boats were heavily armed or well protected. For example, Munro’s Higgins boat had a plywood hull, it was slow, vulnerable to small arms fire, and was armed only with two air-cooled .30 caliber Lewis machine guns.

As Munro led the boats ashore, the Japanese fired on the small craft from Point Cruz, the ridges abandoned by the Marines, and from positions east of the beach. This intense fire from three strong interlocking positions disrupted the landing and caused a number of casualties among the virtually defenseless crews in the boats. Despite the intense fire, Munro led the boats ashore in waves of two or three at a time to pick up the Marines. Munro and Evans provided covering fire from their exposed position on the beach as the Japanese pressed ever closer to the beach, making the withdrawal increasingly dangerous with each passing second.

The returning Monssen, along with Leslie’s “Dauntless” dive bomber, provided additional cover fire for the withdrawing Marines. As the Marines arrived on the beach to embark on the landing craft, the Japanese maintained a murderous and withering fire from the ridges abandoned by the Marines, just 500 yards away, and the last group with their twenty-five wounded were in danger of being cut down. Munro quickly identified the deadly situation and unhesitatingly maneuvered his boat between the enemy and the final group of withdrawing Marines to protect the remnants of the battalion. With no regard to his own personal safety and exposed to the enemy’s deadly fire, Munro successfully provided cover and enabled the last remaining Marines to escape the deadly trap.

With all the Marines safely in the dangerously-overloaded small craft, Munro and Evans steered their LCP off shore. As they passed towards Point Cruz they noticed an LCT full of Marines grounded on the beach. Munro steered his landing craft to assist the disabled LCT and directed another tank lighter to pull it off. Twenty minutes later, the craft was free and heading out to sea. Before they could get very far from shore, the Japanese had set up a machine gun and began firing at the boats. Evans saw the incoming fire and shouted a warning to Munro, but the roar of the boat’s engine prevented Munro from hearing him, and a single bullet hit him in the base of the skull. Munro remained conscious long enough to say only four words, “Did they get off?” before dying.

Due to his extraordinary heroism, outstanding leadership and gallantry, Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the only coast guardsman to receive such an honor. The U.S. Coast Guard has named two of their cutters in his honor, the high-endurance cutter USCGC Munro (WHEC-724), and the National Security Legend-class cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL-755), while the Navy has named a destroyer escort in his honor, the USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422). The Douglas A. Munro Inspirational Leadership Award is annually awarded to the Coast Guard enlisted member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and professional competence to the extent of their rank and rate.

Raymond Evans, who remained in the Coast Guard, retired as a Commander. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Guadalcanal. He died on June 7, 2013 at the age of 92. The USCGC Raymond Evans (WPC-1110) is named in his honor. The CDR Ray Evans Outstanding Coxswain Trophy is a prestigious annual award that recognizes a Coast Guard coxswain who demonstrates exceptional boat handling skills and leadership.

In honor of Samuel B. Roberts, the US Navy named three ships after him. The destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), commissioned in April 1944, fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944 and was sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944. The USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823), a Gearing-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Samuel B. Roberts. In August 1970, the ship was ruled unfit for further service and was sunk as a target in the Atlantic Ocean 195 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico on November 14, 1971. The third USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, commissioned in 1986 and decommissioned on May 22, 2015. When it struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf in 1988 and was in danger of sinking, its crewmen who were engaged in damage control passed around and touched a plaque commemorating the first ship.

The Solomon Islands Campaign cost the Allies approximately 7,100 men, 29 ships and 615 aircraft. The Japanese lost 31,000 men, 38 ships and 683 aircraft. Over the next two and a half years, U.S. forces captured the Gilbert Islands (Tarawa and Makin), the Marshall Islands (Kwajalein and Eniwetok), the Mariana Islands (Saipan, Guam, and Tinian), Iwo Jima and Okinawa. With each island reclaimed from the Japanese, the U.S. moved closer to Japan. Growing superiority at sea and in the air, as well as in the number of fighting men, gave the U.S. increasing advantages. Nonetheless, wherever U.S. forces met Japanese defenders, the enemy fought long and hard before being defeated.

31
Aug

MSTC John Murphy U.S. Coast Guard (1963-1971)

Read the Service story of U.S. Coast Guardsman:

profileMSTC John Murphy

U.S. Coast Guard

(1963-1971)

Shadow Box:

http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/John.Murphy
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

After a year in college I was feeling restless and looking to go out in the world and do something productive. I had always enjoyed boats and being on the water so joining one of the sea services seemed like a natural. My career interests were in science and technology so I went to visit the Navy recruiter to discuss the nuclear propulsion field. I passed all the tests except one: I was too TALL. The height limit on subs was 6-4 in those days and I was already 6-5 and still growing. The recruiter suggested I go across the hall to see his Coast Guard counterpart as they were “always looking for guys over six feet tall.” Having fond recollections of Coasties zipping around in their forty footers in Montauk, performing rescues and saving pretty girls from their sinking yachts, I walked across the hall and met with the Coast Guard recruiter in New York. After hearing his pitch I was sold and signed up the same day.

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 completing basic training in Cape May on my 19th birthday, I was sent to Key West to await the next class of Sonar School. I was a bit of a “sea lawyer” (wise-guy) so the Navy CMAA sent me to the Coast Guard base to work for “my own kind” instead of cleaning heads, mess-cooking or doing something else where I would have a chance to “mess up” HIS Navy. Spent the next month day working at the CG moorings and filling in for an injured crewman on one of the station’s 40 footers. Finished Sonar School second in my class, was advanced to PO3 and sent to the CGC Half Moon based at Staten, Island, New York. Enjoyed my two year tour on the Half Moon immensely. I made E-5 and attended the Class-C school for Oceanography, steering my career toward the Marine Sciences. I was transferred to the Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit in 1966 where I worked with early computer systems and then took over running the Unit’s marine chemistry lab.

I made a number of TAD cruises aboard Evergreen, Sweetgum, and Glacier as a member of the scientific party. I made E-6 in 1967 and then laterally transferred to Marine Science Technician when the rating came into existence. I was sent to the CG Institute to develop the rating quals and service-wide exams for the new rating and then transferred to Governor’s Island as an instructor in the new MST “A” School. I made Chief in 1969 and was assigned collateral duties developing the prototype of the first computerized Satellite/Loran shipboard navigation system – the forerunner of today’s GPS systems. I spent the last two years teaching “A” School students and developing computer programs for the CG’s Honeywell computer systems. I would have liked to stay in but family responsibilities dictated that I leave the service after a wonderful 8 years.

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

Fleet Sonar School – a tough six month school. CGC Half Moon – my favorite unit of all. A great ship with a great crew. I made a lot of patrols and visited some great liberty ports. Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit – highly challenging work. I learned computer programming and
ended up running the unit’s marine chemistry lab. CGC Evergreen – I made a number of oceanographic cruises aboard this research cutter including Ice Patrol off the coast of Greenland. CGC Sweetgum – made a trip where divers were checking on the wrecks of tankers sunk by U-boats during WW-2.

My job was to analyze the water in and around the wrecks looking for signs of residual oil seeping into the environment. No oil but some great fishing over the wrecks and a chance to help with the hard-hat diving ops. CGC Glacier – the cruise of a lifetime. DeepFreeze 68 to the Weddell Sea. The crew was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Medal for meritorious service, literally going where no man had gone before. TRACEN Governor’s Island – really enjoyed instructing as well as my collateral assignment of developing the prototype GPS system. Awarded the CG Commendation Medal for this effort.

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

The research trip to Antarctica aboard CGC Glacier. Spent 6 months planning and making preparations for the scientific aspects of the trip. Once underway we had to set up a full multi-discipline research station aboard a ship including computers, physical, chemical, biological and geologic oceanographic equipment. We were the first ship to successfully penetrate the Weddell Sea ice since Shackleton in 1915. Once we passed the limits of where Shackleton had gone we were the first men to ever see the parts of the Antarctic coast we saw on portions of that trip.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 
The Coast Guard Commendation Medal. It took a lot of teamwork and hard work. We all pulled together to complete a complex project. My Good Conduct Medals for almost 10 years of hard work, and our Navy Unit Meritorious Commendation for the team.

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 Commendation Medal as it was awarded in recognition of my work on a highly complex project – developing the first integrated Shipboard Navigation System consisting of Satellite, Loran-A and Loran-C components. We also implemented the first system capable of determining a ship’s position from only two Loran stations rather than the typical three, a big plus in polar waters where it was impossible to be within range of more than two.

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

Chief Don Etzler, one of my instructors in Sonar School and later my Leading Petty Officer on Governors Island. He taught me about the technical aspects of my job, how to be a good Coast Guardsman, a good Petty Officer. He set a wonderful example of what it meant to be a Chief. In short he helped me become a man.

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?
On Ocean Station around Halloween we had a very superstitious lookout on the flying bridge. One of the DCs dressed up in an N-B-C suit and climbed up to the flying bridge where the lookout was stationed. The poor seaman freaked out and scrambled down the ladder to the bridge, explaining to the OD how a spaceman had landed aboard the ship. He refused to go back up saying he’d rather risk court martial than the chance of being abducted.

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 in a variety of positions in the computer field for the 30 years after my discharge. Most were in the area of Systems Engineering, making a bunch of gadgets work together with a computer, something the CG taught me how to do well.

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

The Coast Guard was an excellent environment in which to learn leadership skills along with the technical training associated with a particular rating. This proved to be invaluable in civilian life and provided a natural foundation for a successful career in middle management. As far as the influence on my personal life, the regimentation was highly useful when I found myself the father of six children. I have to admit that there have been times when my wife and children had to remind me I’m not a Chief in the Coast Guard anymore.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?
Above everything else – be true to the traditions of those who went before you. Learn from your leaders and utilize the training afforded you. In those unexpected situations where you haven’t been trained, use the common sense you were born with, the Coast Guard accepted you as one of their members as they have faith in your ability to make the right decision.

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

Keeping in touch with former shipmates and refreshing cherished old memories. An added bonus has been being able to show my grand-kids the kinds of things their grandfather did when he was a much younger man.

31
Aug

LT Robert McAllister U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1958-1979)

mcallisterView the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardsman:

LT Robert McAllister

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1958-1979)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/5233

(Veterans – record and share your own service story with friends and family by joining www.togetherweserved.com. This is a free service)
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

When I was graduating from high school, the commercials that were on TV were all about the ‘active peace-time service.’ My father was in the Navy during WWII and my brother was on active duty with the Navy, serving on a submarine in Hawaii. Most of the military connections that I had were Navy, Marine, and Army. I didn’t see myself as a Marine. I was too skinny, 155 lbs soaking wet, and not a big athlete.

So, I attribute those TV commercials as the major factor in my decision to join the Coast Guard.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

I was not really career minded during my first four years in the Coast Guard. I had a fairly tough time in boot camp. My home was only 15 miles away and I had a girlfriend at home so my mind was probably more on her and my buddies than becoming a Coast Guardsman.

Every time I turned around I was receiving demerits. It seemed every other weekend I was doing extra instruction. I became fairly familiar with Coast Guard cleaning and painting along with many trips to the Grinder for buckets of rocks, etc. My entry test scores were high but because of the demerits from boot camp I received my last choice of duty station in the last district. I was sent to Seattle, Washington as an SA and found myself on the Lighthouse Tender USCGC Fir (WLM-212).

We made many trips, servicing three light ships and various lighthouses and light stations. Good food, hard work, and exercise. I became a solid 175 lbs. I did lose my appetite for sea food for quite a while after cleaning sea life off of the buoys we serviced. The CO of the Fir, after reviewing my service record, noted that I had received a 2.8 conduct out of boot camp. His comment was “They can’t do that to someone!” Several senior personnel on the ship talked with me and thought that I should go to Electronics School. The CO had my conduct marks changed to 3.0 and forwarded a request for me to attend ET School in Groton, Connecticut.

I arrived in Groton as an SA and after 7 months of training graduating as an ET3. I served on USCGC Alert (WSC-127) out of San Diego, went to LORAN-C School in Wildwood, NJ, a short tour at LORAN Station, Kauai, HI, on to LORAN Station Kure Island, HI, and LORAN Station Venice, FL.

During this 4 year period, I remained an ET3. This was at a time when the Coast Guard had slick arm Chiefs (CPO in less than 4 years). After serving my four year hitch, I got out.

During my five month hiatus, I worked three months for Pacific Bell in Oakland, California when I came to the realization it was just a job, not a career. Since I had enjoyed what I had been doing in the Coast Guard, I reenlisted with the intent of making it my career. A decision I have never regretted.

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

I served twelve months with CG Squadron One, Division XII, in DaNang, Vietnam. I was the Senior Enlisted ET, stationed on the Non self-propelled Floating Workshop YR-71. The crews berthing area left something to be desired, but then I was not sleeping in the open in a jungle. Most of my days were spent in the electronic repair shop on the barge or on one of the 82-foot patrol boats, repairing or adjusting the electronics. I always had the option of going out on any of the 82 footers that we serviced. However, I always put it off and as my time was nearing the end of my tour I though less of going on patrol.

A good share of my off time was spent with my two friends GM1, Maxwell and YN1 Fischer. We would go to the beach to bask in the sun and bathe in the ocean. Sometimes we would visit the club at Camp Tien Sha, down the road from the Vietnamese Navy Base where the YR-71 was tied up. Other times we headed for a small, open air, club at the end of the pier that the barge was attached to. A young Vietnamese man named Phuoc served us our drinks who we found lived behind the bar, actually underneath it. We put our money together for Phuoc to attend training as a typist, hoping that he would be able to get a better job and future. We sent him twice but without success. We heard Phuoc got a job in Hue and died during the Tet Offensive.

The bitter reality of the war was always present. When we made a trip to the DaNang Navy Hospital, I saw piles of combat boots, each one representing a loss of a limb. It was a horrible sight. Sometimes at night, we would watch the “fireworks” around DaNang as enemy rockets slammed into military installation throughout the area followed by friendly return fire. The most spectacular were seeing the gunships in action across the bay. The tracers would be a red light from the sky drawing lines on the ground. I’d hear stories on how service members on their way home waiting for their flights at the DaNang AB were killed or injured during the rocket attacks.

One of my nicest memories while in Vietnam was seeing Bob Hope’s 1967 USO Christmas at DaNang AB. As Hope had been doing since his first USO tour, he brought with him a taste of home. This time it was Raquel Welch, Elaine Dunn, Phil Crosby, Barbara McNair, and Miss World, Madeleine Hartog Bell. For those two hours I was lost in the laughter, glamor and music and not once did I think of the many hazards that existed around me.

With my year in country was over (February 6, 1968) I was given a TR [travel request] for a PANAM flight out of Saigon, leaving from DaNang to Saigon to Hawaii. But since January 1968 was the start of the Tet Offensive and the DaNang AB was still an enemy target, my TR became useless. There were no flights from DaNang to Saigon and there were no flights from Saigon to anywhere. I traveled back to my unit where they cut new travel order for any flight leaving from DaNang to anywhere else.

My worst night in country was spending the night at the airfield in DaNang waiting for my flight–the very installation I saw rocketed almost every night I was in DaNang. This anxiety increased when I thought about the stories of people being killed while awaiting their flight. That did not happen and after about 12 hours at the airfield I was finally given a seat on a C-141 leaving for Japan. Goodbye Vietnam!

I still ‘welcome home’ everyone I meet that served in Vietnam.

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2
Jun

LCDR ROBERT COUNCIL U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1961-1986)

councilPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

LCDR ROBERT COUNCIL

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1961-1986)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Robert.Council

(Veterans – record your own Military Service Story atwww.togetherweserved.com at no charge)
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

Upon graduation from Denver East High School, I interviewed with the Army Recruiter. I then went home and told my Dad, who was career Air Force MSGT (WWII and Korea Vet), that I was going to sign up for Ranger Training in the Army.

The next day he went with me to the recruiters’ offices and introduced me to the Marine Corps Recruiter, who was a friend of his and also WWII and Korea Vet. The two of them took me down the hall to the Coast Guard Recruiter where I saw a picture of a Coast Guardsman on a horse on the beach with a dog alongside and rifle slung over his shoulder. Between the two recruiters and my Dad they convinced me the Coast Guard was the best service to join.

I should note that after joining until retirement 24 years later, I never regretted the decision and I never saw a horse, the beach or the dog. Just the rifle, which I became to know well in Boot Camp with it over my head.

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 joined the Coast Guard on July 5, 1961 and arrived at Government Island (now Coast Guard Island), Alameda, CA that night after taps. The OOD showed me to a bunk and said fall out at reveille in front of the building. Reville came and I fell out with the rest of the recruits that morning.

I don’t remember ever having seen fog before and it was so thick you could not see across the street. They marched us to the mess hall and after that to the barber shop. By then the fog was lifting and I became less disoriented.

During boot camp, I got used to “high port” due to slamming the M-1 receiver shut on my thumb a couple of times and other offenses. I had played football, basketball and ran track ( hated sprint drills then) for 3 years in high school. But boot camp managed to build some more muscle.

After boot camp, was assigned to USCGC Klamath (WPG-66) home ported in Seattle. Spent the next 7 years on board the Klamath. Went from deck force to quartermaster striker thru Quartermaster First Class. Made First Class in less than 3 years. Having been raised in a military family, I was already committed to making the service a career.

After so much time on sea duty pulling Ocean Station November/Papa, Alaska and Bering Sea Patrols, I had the bright idea that if I went to OCS, I could get out of sea duty. About that time, I was transferred to USCGC Ivy (WLB-329), a old Army Mine Layer. Having to stand Underway OOD watches, helped confirm: I should apply for OCS.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN COMBAT, PEACEKEEPING OR HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I did not participate in combat. Closest I came was in 1972, I had just sailed as First Lieutenant/Deck Department Head on the Taney (WHEC-37) from Alameda, CA to Little Creek, VA. Not too long after being there, I felt a hankering for some Mexican Food. Well, I went looking and discovered that not only were there no Mexican Food restaurants but there was not even a Taco Bell.

So, I called my detailer and asked how I could get back to where there was Mexican Food restaurants. He told me that he had no openings in those areas, currently, but if I wanted to take an assignment in Vietnam, he could guarantee me an assignment back on the West Coast. So, I got orders to Vietnam via SERE Training. I checked in at Government Island and had just put my car, a 1972 GTO, in storage and to pick up my tickets to SERE training when admin told me that my detailer called and wanted me to call him.

I called and he informed me that the Coast Guard was being pulled out of Vietnam and asked where I would like to be stationed. I asked what was available in the area and he told me about a new type of unit being formed for Vessel Traffic. I had no idea what it was all about but, it was in San Francisco and there were very good Mexican Food Restaurants in the area.

I was assigned to Harbor Advisory Radar, located at the end of Pier 44 1/2 (directly next to Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco.) Within the year we moved to the top of Yerba Buena Island and became San Francisco Vessel Traffic System. Spent over two years there living in the Bachelor Officer Quarters on Treasure Island (just down the hill from the VTS). I was promoted to Lieutenant and later received orders to USCGC Dauntless home ported in Miami Beach, FL.

I was Operations Officer and Senior Boarding Officer on the Dauntless and received two personal citations while assigned to her. During that time we conducted numerous drug and alien interdiction missions in the Caribbean, Straits of Florida, Gulf of Mexico, vicinity of the Bahamas and off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. Also, went to REFTRA at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While the ship spent 4 weeks in the ship yard, I was assigned to CG District Seven, Office of Intelligence and was tasked with drafting a new Law Enforcement Manual (Annex) to the CG District Seven Operations Plan.

I was then assigned to CG District Twelve as Assistant Chief of Search and Rescue and Senior Watch Officer of the CGD12/COMPAC Area Joint Operations Center. After a couple of years there, I was assigned to Coast Guard Surface Effect Ship Division (CGSESDIV), Key West, FL.

I was assigned as Commanding Officer, of CGSESDIV. Which would eventually consist of 3 Coast Guard and 1 Navy Surface Effect Ships, 4 Coast Guard crews, 1 Navy crew, a Coast Guard support staff and a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. We not only had operational missions in military readiness, search and rescue and law enforcement but also, charged with research and development for surface effect ships. The CGSESDIV set a record for the most law enforcement seizure in the Coast Guard at that time. During the Granada Invasion, the division was given deployment orders and did deploy 3 SESs but, by the time they got to the Windward Passage they were recalled.

You may not have noticed but twice, I was involved in orders to a combat area and each time never reached the area due to recall by the Coast Guard.

During my early enlisted years in the service, I spent most of my time on board USCGC Klamath (WPG/WHEC-66) home ported out of Seattle. We spent most of our time either on Ocean Stations November or Papa, Bering Sea Patrols or Alaska Patrols. We conducted security patrols off of Amchitka Island around the time of the Underground Nuclear Test.

I did spend about 8 months on board USCGC IVY (WLB-329) home ported in Astoria Oregon. We conducted coastal buoy maintenance and replacements and did go on one two week oceanographic mission off Vancouver Island, Canada (partially during a full Gale). It was a challenge trying to maintain station without getting the oceanographic array caught in the screws.

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

I have the fondest memories of being assigned to the CG Surface Effect Ship Division in Key West, FL and the CGC Dauntless in Miami Beach, FL.

For one reason, you could not beat the weather or excitement there. Lots of sunshine, beaches, warm and calmer seas. Every day was a different mission. You never got bored.

Being Commanding Officer of the CG Surface Effect Ship Division, gave me exposure to managing risks and coordinating a multitude of tasks and solving problems. Most importantly, was the association with the finest officer and enlisted men, I ever served with.

I can’t describe a least favorite duty assignment because each one had it’s own challenges and rewards. I would not trade or change any of it.

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13
Apr

EN2 Arnold Taylor Lapham U.S. Coast Guard (1966-1970)

View Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

laphamEN2 Arnold Taylor Lapham

U.S. Coast Guard

(1966-1970)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/5017

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

I joined the Coast Guard on April 25, 1966 when I was 22-years-old, but I almost joined the Marine Corps. Both recruiting offices were in the Custom House in Boston so I thought I would check out the Coast Guard as well. Especially since an old Navy veteran told me to do so. The Coast Guard won because I figured I could do more for people by saving lives. It also sounded like a good option since I would be working for the Treasury Department. (The Coast Guard was a part of the US Treasury in those days.)

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 boot camp at Cape May NJ, my first choice of assignment was Hawaii so naturally the Coast Guard sent me to Alaska.

At Base Seattle I was assigned to the CGC Balsam W62 out of Adak Alaska.This assignment was for only one year due to the semi-isolated duty on the Buoy Tender in the cold waters off Alaska. We did make it above the Arctic Circle on the summer run to repair Aids to Navigation Lights. We also went across the international date line at the same time which entitled me to be a ‘Polar Bear’ after initiation.

One year was enough of Alaska for me. I put in for duty in another warm climate, on the Mississippi River around Louisiana. So I got orders to report to the Coast Guard station at Frankfort, Michigan! My most vivid memory of my 10 months there was the day 9 people drowned as a result of a freak storm that came out of nowhere. Both the 36 footer and the 40 footer were out on May Day calls in high seas also looking for missing people. We worked for three days straight without sleep and had to get help from Fisheries and Game and the Navy. We received a Letter of Commendation for our efforts from the CG Group Ludington OIC.

I had thoughts about volunteering for Squadron One because the CG needed Enginemen. About one month after writing my letter for volunteering I received my orders for Alameda, California. RON1 training. It turned out that 5 men at that small Life Boat Station had been sent to Squadron One Vietnam in a period of less than 2 years.I was off for 6 weeks of training in California for the year ahead in Vietnam.

I didn’t feel the training was that great and was disappointed in that 90% of the training was in the class room. At the Marine Base at Camp Pendleton it was more of a show and tell about the weapons we would be using. The only good training was SERE, ‘Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape’ Training.

The real training was the on the job training when you got on your boat. Coasties adapt very quickly to most situation fortunately. There are just some things that you can’t learn in a classroom or the field.

Finally, duty in a warm climate!! After arriving in Saigon I took a small aircraft ride to Vung Tau to get to my Unit. The pilot announced ‘If we are shot down, you are on your own.’ I thought to myself, welcome to Vietnam! All I have is a K Bar survival knife for a weapon and if we were to crash that was in my sea bag.

Upon arriving in Cat Lo before getting out of the jeep, I looked down and saw Mike Tower, a Concord Carlisle HS graduate I ran track with. What were the chances of that happening?

Later that day I was aboard the Point Grey. I was replacing EN2 Harry Taylor. We had a new Fireman as well. His name was Swizdor. LTJG Doug Meservery also replaced the XO at that time. The Point Grey got underway that evening to spend 3-4 days on patrol.

The CG 82 footers were designed so that the engineering watch did not have to stay in the engine room and that helped for doing other duties on your watch. My first watch on the Point Grey when the boiler caught fire and I used CO2 to extinguish the fire after securing the electrical supply.

The next morning Swizdor and I shot the .50 caliber to see who would be the better shot. I won and Swizdor ended up loading the 81 mm mortar on the bow at GQ.

The days could be very long boarding boat after boat. Sometimes we would find suspects to detain. They would be hiding in the bilges or not have the proper paperwork so they automatically became suspects.

One day GM2 Miller and I were pulling up a fish net and Miller was shot in the knee cap. We used to call these snipers from the beach as Sand Dune Sam. They were always taking pot shots at us.

One thing that puzzled me is why a lot of rivers and canals shores were brown with dead vegetation and no one knew why. A few years later I found out why. Agent Orange.

We had a new cook come aboard. The cook was responsible for the mid ship 50 caliber on the starboard side. His first time at GQ he froze at his gun position when we were taking fire from the beach. I yelled for the Gunner’s Mate to relieve him. Later on he did manage to settle down and do his job but it was a bit unnerving at the time.

Back to the real world: We did have 6 weeks training pre-Vietnam but when it was time to come home there was no training.

Welcome Home!! In San Francisco at the airport while waiting for a flight and wearing my uniform with the Vietnam campaign ribbons, a group of young people passed me and one called me a scumbag.

My mother and father worked during the day so I took it easy and enjoyed being home. I found myself carrying a 22 caliber Winchester when my parents were at work. It just felt better to have a rifle with me but shortly after I put it back in the closet as I got used to being back in the real world.

The local Chief of Police and his wife came to the house to go out to dinner with my parents. I was talking to the Chief and he was talking about his future son in law who was in the Army in Vietnam and the difficult times he had. I said yeah I know, I just got back from Vietnam. The Chiefs comment was ‘Yeah, but you were just in the Coast Guard.”

My last few months was spent at Base Boston and Merrimack Station. It was nice I could go home at night when I didn’t have duty.

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2
Feb

MCPOCG Vince Patton U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1972-2002)

pattonPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

MCPOCG Vince Patton

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1972-2002)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Vince.Patton

Veterans – record your own Military Service Story atwww.togetherweserved.com at no charge)

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

Ever since I was ten years old, joining the service was a rather easy decision for me to make. My oldest brother, who is 8 years older than I, joined the Navy. I always looked up to him (even now actually) and wanted to be just like him. So for at least seven years all I kept talking about was joining the Navy to be like my brother Greg (he eventually stayed in for 34 years, retiring as a CAPT/O-6). I even became a member of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) during my high school years.

However, at age 17, when I was old enough to sign up for the delayed entry program, I chose the Coast Guard. That’s an even longer story … but the short answer is I actually walked in to the wrong recruiting office, thinking I was going to see a Navy recruiter.

Back in 1971 at the time, the Coast Guard uniform was the same as the Navy’s, with the exception of the ‘Treasury Shield’ on the right sleeve, and the hats for enlisted were different (we used to wear the old ‘Donald Duck’ hats). After realizing I walked into the wrong office, I was too embarrassed to walk out, so I decided to wait until the recruiter finished talking to me, and then go join the Navy. However, not ever knowing anything about the Coast Guard at the time, I became really interested in their mission, and the fact it is a small service. So, after seven years of telling everyone from my parents, my brother, friends and teachers at school about going in the Navy to be like my brother, I enlisted in the Coast Guard’s delayed entry program in January 1972, and shipped off to boot camp in June 1972 just three days after I graduated from high school.

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.

After finishing boot camp in August 1972, I went off to Radioman (RM) ‘A’ School at Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, CA (about 70 miles north of San Francisco). I went ‘RM’ mainly because I had some experience in radio communications and knew Morse Code from my merit badge earnings in the Boy Scouts. I initially wanted to be a Hospital Corpsman, but the school was too long of a wait, so I went RM. It wasn’t a bad choice at the time.

After RM School, I reported to the USCGC DALLAS out of Governors Island, NY, after two years there, I moved on to Coast Guard Group/Air Station Detroit (my hometown). In 1976 I reenlisted, then reported to Coast Guard Recruiting Office Chicago, IL. After my tour of duty as a recruiter was up in 1978, I decided to change my occupational specialty rating from RM to Yeoman (YN).

After my tour in Chicago, I moved on to the Ninth District Office in Cleveland, OH, where I worked in the personnel office, then later became the district’s career information specialist. While I was in the Coast Guard up to that time, I continued on with taking college courses through the Service member Opportunity College Program (SOC), earning up to my Master’s Degree in 1979. In 1981 I became the first Coast Guard enlisted member to be selected for postgraduate school program, where I was transferred to Washington, DC to attend The American University, working on my Doctorate in Education. My dissertation was based on the development and implementation of the Coast Guard Enlisted Evaluation System, which was the purpose of my selection for the postgraduate program. After graduating from American University in 1984, I remained on the Headquarters staff involved with the implementation of the new evaluation system.

In 1985, I then went back to sea to the USCGC BOUTWELL, when it was then home ported out of Seattle, WA. After a three year tour on BOUTWELL, I returned to Washington, DC (the Coast Guard wanted to get their money’s worth out of me for that doctorate degree), and served as the first enlisted training manager for the Coast Guard’s enlisted training programs. These billets were previously done by officers and civilians.

In 1993, I was advanced to Master Chief, served on a six month special assignment with the DOD Task Force, and afterwards elevated to the ‘Command Master Chief’ status and transferred to the Coast Guard Atlantic Area, first out of New York, then Portsmouth, VA.

In 1998 I was selected as the Eighth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG), and retired in 2002.

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

I served as the senior enlisted adviser to Joint Task Force 160 during 1994 as part of ‘Operation Support Democracy’ which was an intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d’état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

It was the largest alien migration operation in history, where I worked in both Port-au-Prince Haiti and Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The assignment was a temporary detailed position while I was the Command Master Chief for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

There’s two actually; first was when I was assigned to Joint Task Force 160, where I got an up close look at seeing literally hundreds of people from Cuba and Haiti defying all odds to try to get to the United States. They came in just about anything that floated. I remember seeing a giant door from a church that served as a raft with six people on board that traveled just about 50 or so miles before we were able to stop them. Bad weather was looming and they certainly would not have made it the rest of the way. Then there are the hundreds of young children, mostly malnourished with a look of desperation and hunger that just wanted to be taken care of. It was an operation that really worked on the psyche.

Many of the service members involved in this operation were touched by the desperation that these people had in doing whatever it took to try to reach the U.S. in hope for a better life. It was a horrifying experience, and as I think of the earthquake in Haiti today, I can’t help but think about seeing the faces on the people who spent days just floundering in the Caribbean Sea trying to reach land. Unfortunately I remember the large number of bodies from capsized makeshift vessels we came upon as well.

The other is during the events of ‘9-11’. Most noteworthy was my walk along all three of the “Ground Zero” locations in NY, PA and the Pentagon, and seeing the huge destruction caused from the terrorist acts. That too was a sobering moment, but with it came a time of seeing people rise to the occasion in helping one another. I also recall my visit to the Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood. While there was complete destruction all around the area, that tiny little church on Rector Street, which also had a small graveyard with the remains of some of our founding fathers such as Alexander Hamilton (the Father of the Coast Guard), the place was pretty much untouched, with exception of debris from the destruction all around. It was an amazing sight to see, where the only damage on the church was a broken window, but on either side as well as in front and in back of the church the buildings were completely destroyed from the crashing of the airliners.

It’s a sight that will forever be etched in my memory and one that sticks out of truly understanding the power of spirituality.

IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR AWARDS FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

I was awarded the DSM principally for my performance of duty as Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, where I was actively involved with the Coast Guard operations around ‘9-11,’ as well as the responsibilities I executed during my tenure as MCPOCG.

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