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Posts tagged ‘Coast Guard in Vietnam’

5
Oct

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

Read the service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman

gradyCWO3 Grady H Stribling

US Coast Guard (Ret)

(1964-1985)

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

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

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

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

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retired August, 1985.

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

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

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

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

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27
Jul

CWO4 Robert R Wilson U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1965-1989)

wilson3View the service memories of US Coast Guardsman:

CWO4 Robert R Wilson

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1965-1989)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/CWO4Wilson

(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?

I originally was trying to enlist in the Air Force. However, I knew that my draft was getting rather close and saw the sign for US Coast Guard Recruiting in the hall. I sat down and talked with the OIC of the office and was enlisted two weeks later.

The recruiter told me that I would not have to take a bus to Alameda for boot camp. He had sailed near the Cutter Eagle and never had a chance to go aboard. He said the ship was coming into San Francisco on my enlistment day and he was going to drive me down. When we arrived the ship was just coming into the bay. We watched as she moored and he knew a couple of Chiefs on board. We got invited to the Chiefs Mess for lunch. Damn, I thought, this outfit was great. Steak and baked potatoes and all the fixin’s and to boot, being served by the Cadets. And finally being called Sir. Had a great tour of the ship.

That afternoon, the Master Chief drove me to Alameda to get checked in. He told the JOOD to make sure and take care of me. I was being escorted to the forming barracks by a 2nd Class Petty Officer (can’t remember his rating), and as we were walking, just chatting along. Then all of a sudden, the PO grabbed me by my collar and told me very bluntly, “From now on the word SIR will be the first and last word, do I make myself understood.” I replied, “SIR YES SIR!!”

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 I had been to Vietnam in 1968, I decided to stay for a career. Since I had done a lot of mechanical work prior to my graduation from HS, I had made up my mind that I was going to be an Engineman (EN).

While assigned to HQ I was promoted to MKC, Sep 1974. Then due to my assignment in Washington DC and had some good references, I decided to attempt to go into the Warrant Officer group. I was lucky and made CWO2(ENG) within 12 years.

I tried to get assigned to a ship and had orders to a 378 in Hawaii. The District Commander did not like a boot Warrant without any sea duty (or as little as I had) to be assigned to a cutter in his district. I finally ended up at Group Shinnecock, NY as GRUEO. Got reassigned to HQ in Jun 1981 and finally ended up as a GRUEO in Mayport FL.

I retired in Sep 1989.

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.

As stated previously I was stationed on board the USCGC Point Grace (WPB82323) Mar 18, 1968. I remained aboard for my entire tour and the Division Commander approved an early rotation stateside Feb 18, 1969.

We were in combat an average of at least once a month and participated in the largest Naval action on a direct target when the CGC Bibb (WHEC31), CGC Point Cypress (WPB82327), 8 Navy PCF’s, 4 Navy LCVP’s, the USS Washoe County (LSMR1165) and all the SEALs in Vietnam attacked Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army entrenchments along both side of the Song Bo De in IV Corps Area. This river had a reputation for not allowing friendly vessels to infiltrate without causing serious casualties. The river banks were covered with steel reinforced bunkers built by the Japanese during WWII. The SEALs duty was to infiltrate and destroy the bunkers and remove as many of the enemy as possible. What they couldn’t blow-up, they booby-trapped. The area was decimated to a point that no further damages were encountered subsequent to this action.

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

I put my two duties, at Vietnam and LORSTA Lampedusa as my fondest.

I “grew up” in Vietnam and while at Lampedusa under the tutelage of a great MKCM. I attribute his teachings that enabled me to pass service wide exams for promotion to MKC and CWO.

We had some great times at Lampedusa and the station quickly had a positive reputation for the least outages and one time was used as a homing beacon for one of the Apollo missions to the moon. The island had approximately 4500 indigenous people and the island had been occupied for over 2000 years. It is about 150 miles South of Sicily and 60 miles from the North African coast. They were starting to regenerate their forest.

During WWII, the Italians had huge gun emplacements on the North cliffs and were used to shell Allied convoys enroute to Malta. When the allies overran the Italians on the island, they did not leave any fuel for generators or for cooking. The locals burned all the vegetation for charcoal to cook with.

We had several locations on the island that had great beaches and outcroppings that we used for recreation and the town was just beginning its movement to tourism. We had two recreational one person sailboats for use and we would sail around the island or to out of the way beaches and snorkeling. The weather was great most of the time. In March the temperature would climb to over 100-degrees F in the shade. During the winter the lowest temperature we had was about 35-degrees F. However, we would experience sand storms from the desert with more than 60 MPH winds.

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

First duty that impacted me the most was during my first station. I had two good mentors that helped me learn about diesel engines. I had never worked on one before and they nurtured me along and caused me to understand that my knowledge of situations peaked and I really began to question the what, who and why of the Coast Guard.

My time in Vietnam caused my interest in other people of the world in how they lived and thought. We had a Vietnam Navy liaison that spoke English fluently and was able to explain the living habits of the locals and how they lived on the boats. He invited a few of us to come to his house and “have dinner”. I found this very interesting and peaked my interest even further. My duty there was one of the reasons I applied for my duty to Italy.

During my stay in Italy, I was able to tour Rome, Isle of Capri, Pompeii and all of Sicily. Again, this caused me want to learn more about history of the world. I had been an “amateur” historian since I was in grade school and had a huge yearning to learn.

MKCM Tribeck on Lampedusa taught me how to teach others. I used his methodology while in the Coast Guard and during my subsequent jobs as a civilian. I have passed this on to my staffs as I moved on to other assignments and still use it today.

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

THE COMMANDANT OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
WASHINGTON 20593, 26 June 1989

From: Commandant
To: CWO4 Rober R. Wilson, Jr., 5227, USCG
Subj: LETTER OF COMMENDATION

1. I note with pride and am pleased to commend you for your performance of duty from July 1985 to June 1989 while assigned as Engineer Officer, Coast Guard Group Mayport, Florida. Demonstrating exceptional professional competence, you developed a comprehensive Group Hazardous Waste Contingency Plan that brought Group Mayport into compliance with state and federal regulations. The plan was adopted by Coast Guard Headquarters as the training model for shore units nationwide. You also oversaw the six-month yard availability for USCGC POINT ROBERTS, one of the most extensive and costly for an 82 foot patrol boat in recent years. You were responsible for the complete restoration of the Amelia Island Lighthouse, returning it to absolute pristine appearance and structural soundness. To facilitate assignment of a 11O-foot patrol boat to Station Port Canaveral, you were tasked with completely replacing the station’s pier and boat docks. Since contracting out the project was cost prohibitive, you utilized Group resources, completing the work on schedule and at enormous savings to the Coast Guard. You initiated major repairs to USCGC HAMMER’s crane, averting a potentially serious safety hazard. You expertly managed the Group-wide small boat haul-out program. During mobilization exercise Ocean Safari, you successfully established a security force that was impenetrable by opposition forces. As Morale Officer, you organized Coast Guard Day activities that promoted the Coast Guard family concept throughout Northeast Florida.

2. You are commended for your outstanding performance of duty. By your meritorious service you have upheld the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

3. You are hereby authorized to wear the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon Bar (gold star in lieu of a second).

MARTIN DANIELL.

Rear Admiral,U. S.Coast Guard
Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District

By direction of the Commandant

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

MKCM Tribeck, Lampedusa; CWO4(PERS) Richard B Milne, Mentor and best friend to this day.

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?

While in Vietnam, we competed with the PCF Squadron about skiing. We first learned how to ski behind the 13 foot Boston Whaler using a 35 HP kicker. The Navy guys showed how to do it behind the 50-foot PCF. After some time, we learned a way to get behind the Point Grace and showed them how it was done.

The local islanders had a huge laugh with us.

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 I retired I worked for a couple of local environmental cleanup companies. This required me to learn more about hydrology and chemicals. After a couple of years, I was able to join Marine Spill Response Corporation in Lake Charles, LA. I was assigned as the Logistics/Maintenance Supervisor. I spent 2 years working in Lake Charles and learned the “catastrophic” oil spill business. I stayed with the company and was moved to Miami as the Maintenance Supervisor. Mr. Wayne Rhoades was the Logistics/Maintenance Supervisor in Miami and the L&M Manager split up the responsibilities.

Wayne and I switched our duties after about 6 months and I ended up as the Logistics Supervisor. My duties included making sure equipment inventory was up to date on the computer system for all sites within our Region. This included, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Savannah and St Croix, VI. We put all our equipment into shipping “packages” with the equipment, manuals, spare parts, safety equipment, etc. They were set up to be shipped via truck, ship or aircraft. I was later assigned as the Site Supervisor for Tampa with one other employee as an assistant Jan 1999. I remained with MSRC until 2006 (almost 15 years) and due to a medical situation, I was forced to fully retire. I am presently retired and have returned to my home in California.

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

Military Officers Association., American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers Association, Coast Guard CPO Association., Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, and several other organizations.

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

I learned a lot about leadership and how to deal with all sorts of personalities. This was very greatly used during my following career with the private company personnel.

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

“Stay with it and go all the Way”. Retire!

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

It has helped me to find some friends I served with and thank you for helping to put some organization to my record.

22
Jun

ET3 James Wolfe U.S. Coast Guard (1966-1970)

Personal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

wolfeET3 James Wolfe

U.S. Coast Guard

(1966-1970)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/13399
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?

In 1964 at Yellowstone Lake was the first time I had met any Coast guardsmen. They gave a workshop and we became certified boat handlers. That did it I wanted coast Guard. The folks had a small 14 foot outboard boat which we used all the time in the lakes in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Many a fishing trip and later scuba diving help me decide if I had a choice I wanted either the Navy or Coast Guard. My senior year of high school saw many friend joining one of the four branches of the military but those were the only four they knew about but I was interested in the fifth- Coast Guard. I had obtained an application which I keep until my senior year in college and now was the time to pull it out and send it in. My dad, like all the other men in my family had served. Dad served in WWII in the Pacific on an aircraft carrier. My first Christmas found me in Cape Code, Massachusetts. With my little sailor suit. Just like dad! This was my direction, duty, and honor to serve. I would have to travel 100 mile on a Thursday to Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were no recruiter in Oklahoma, but one would be in a Federal building once a month on Thursday. So off I went to see If I could get in. The First Class Boatswain’s Mate told me that there was a waiting list of 7 months and they only took two men per month and was I still interested. Yes. I filled out the application and I turned it in. For the next 6 months I drove 100 miles to visit and see how things were going. I would have to travel to Kansas City to take test and then a civilian medical exam. It would take three days in KC before I could enlist. Then while in boot camp I would take another set of test to see which school I could chose after that. I did hear that the First Class boatswain’s Mate had been assigned to a ship in Alaska. On June 7, I was on my way to Cape May, New Jersey and a new adventure, one which would have a profound effect on the rest of my life.

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?

June, July and Aug. came boot camp. There I was introduced to my TI and many others that shaped my training. I was put in HOTEL Company. I served as the Chaplin representative and assistant Yeoman. Boot camp was just what I expected. Having been in Boy Scouting with all the skills earning my Eagle Badge helped with training . As the Chaplin representative, I met Mr. Ford. Yes Henry Ford’s son. He gave a sermon one time telling us that his dad at dinner one night wished that one of his sons would go into another field besides cars so they would have something different to talk about at dinner. Mr. Ford was a Navy Chaplin on loan to the Coast Guard. After taking the tests I was given the choice of ‘A ‘ schools after boot camp and I chose electronics in Groton, Connecticut. The day after graduation two of us headed to Conn. Starting in Sept. 1966 electronic school was a 5 day 8 hour per day 6 month course. This course set skills and training I would use throughout the rest of my life and career. Little did I know that the education was equal to another degree in electronic leading to understanding of computer. Again this was the best move I have ever made. After graduation in May 1967, I was shipped out to the Bahamas !!!! The station I was shipped to was on San Salvador Bahamas. Yes sounds great but was semi-isolated duty with one Palm tree! This was a LORAN (long range aid to navigation) station. The equipment was invented during WWII in 1943 so was about 20 years old. The signal is much like a lighthouse but electronic. My duty was from June 1967 to June 1968. While serving there I became a third Class Petty Officer. Many experiences living on an island with only native BWIs. Great fishing and plenty of sun. The Loran signal was used by all military and the public for navigation. No GPS at this time. Loran A still used tubes. Loran C was just being introduced which used transistors. I understand that Loran D was put into 18 wheel trucks in Viet Nam and Loran E was used in space which began GPS. These are photos of San Sal USCG.

After one year I was shipped out back to the states. Cape San Blas, Fla.! Yes closer to towns but still 13 miles away. Again a Loran A station but with Radio Beacon and a working Lighthouse. I served there until I got out. In May 1970. The addition of Radio Beacon for navigation was really interesting. The Loran signal could go out 1,000 miles where as the Radio Beacon signal would tavel 250 miles and the lighthouse would travel 20 to 30 miles. Every 4 hours we would use a TTY to report ship movement and weather reports. By 1972 most of the station had been replaced by off site switches and the station began to shut down. Loran A was out. But up to that time we were still used by the Coast Guard and other military units plus the fishing boats for location and fishing fields. So we were still part of the SAR team. A lot of these photos are from Cape San Blas. Lighthouse that was moved to a park in Port St. Joe, Florida. During my tour of duty, I was looking around for a direction and a career. Yes the Coast Guard would be a super career but for me I wanted to try teaching which would mean leaving the Coast Guard and attend school for a teaching certificate. I had a degree in Fine Art and during my stay in Cape San Blas I was able to do some art work and teaching. So I used my GI Bill to go back to school and start a teaching career. Little did I know that most of my career would be teaching electronics and computer! Thanks to the Coast Guard training and 3 years of hands on made a great foundation for teaching electronics and computers.

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27
Apr

CWO4 Robert R Wilson U.S. Coast Guard (Ret) (1965-1989)

wilsonPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

CWO4 Robert R Wilson

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1965-1989)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/CWO4Wilson

(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?

I originally was trying to enlist in the Air Force. However, I knew that my draft was getting rather close and saw the sign for US Coast Guard Recruiting in the hall. I sat down and talked with the OIC of the office and was enlisted two weeks later.

The recruiter told me that I would not have to take a bus to Alameda for boot camp. He had sailed near the Cutter Eagle and never had a chance to go aboard. He said the ship was coming into San Francisco on my enlistment day and he was going to drive me down. When we arrived the ship was just coming into the bay. We watched as she moored and he knew a couple of Chiefs on board. We got invited to the Chiefs Mess for lunch. Damn, I thought, this outfit was great. Steak and baked potatoes and all the fixin’s and to boot, being served by the Cadets. And finally being called Sir. Had a great tour of the ship.

That afternoon, the Master Chief drove me to Alameda to get checked in. He told the JOOD to make sure and take care of me. I was being escorted to the forming barracks by a 2nd Class Petty Officer (can’t remember his rating), and as we were walking, just chatting along. Then all of a sudden, the PO grabbed me by my collar and told me very bluntly, “From now on the word SIR will be the first and last word, do I make myself understood.” I replied, “SIR YES SIR!!”

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 I had been to Vietnam in 1968, I decided to stay for a career. Since I had done a lot of mechanical work prior to my graduation from HS, I had made up my mind that I was going to be an Engineman (EN).

While assigned to HQ I was promoted to MKC, Sep 1974. Then due to my assignment in Washington DC and had some good references, I decided to attempt to go into the Warrant Officer group. I was lucky and made CWO2(ENG) within 12 years.

I tried to get assigned to a ship and had orders to a 378 in Hawaii. The District Commander did not like a boot Warrant without any sea duty (or as little as I had) to be assigned to a cutter in his district. I finally ended up at Group Shinnecock, NY as GRUEO. Got reassigned to HQ in Jun 1981 and finally ended up as a GRUEO in Mayport FL.

I retired in Sep 1989.

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.

As stated previously I was stationed on board the USCGC Point Grace (WPB82323) Mar 18, 1968. I remained aboard for my entire tour and the Division Commander approved an early rotation stateside Feb 18, 1969.

We were in combat an average of at least once a month and participated in the largest Naval action on a direct target when the CGC Bibb (WHEC31), CGC Point Cypress (WPB82327), 8 Navy PCF’s, 4 Navy LCVP’s, the USS Washoe County (LSMR1165) and all the SEALs in Vietnam attacked Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army entrenchments along both side of the Song Bo De in IV Corps Area. This river had a reputation for not allowing friendly vessels to infiltrate without causing serious casualties. The river banks were covered with steel reinforced bunkers built by the Japanese during WWII. The SEALs duty was to infiltrate and destroy the bunkers and remove as many of the enemy as possible. What they couldn’t blow-up, they booby-trapped. The area was decimated to a point that no further damages were encountered subsequent to this action.

Read more »

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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