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29
Mar

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

profile2Read the service reflections of

TCCM Dennis White

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1972-1998)

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

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

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

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
As a new member of the watch section at Radio Station Honolulu, I soon fell in with a group of guys who shared my love of snorkeling and scuba diving. We all decided to do a night dive on the east side of Oahu. The shortest way there was driving through Scofield Barracks and over Lualualei pass which meant driving a small winding road on the base. But this road also had a legend attached to it about a ghostly specter of a female hitch hiker that would appear on the road, and then appear in your car! As we drove this dark lonely road, freaking ourselves out with ghostly stories of spirit hitch hikers and US Marines who had taken their own lives at the guard post atop the pass, we were suddenly met with two glowing eyes in the middle of the road! The horror was quickly replaced with laughter as we got closer and saw it was just a cow! The night dive went off uneventful.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22
Feb

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

Read the service reflections of Coast Guardsman:

13496_medFTCM Lonnie Jones

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1956-1977)

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

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

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

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

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/1/1972 I transferred to CG Institute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do not have a least favorite.

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

How could you choose one over the other?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

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

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

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

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Swimming off the side of the CGC Unimack while berthed at Cape May I swung out on a life boat line which slipped, I froze and swung back into the side of the ship hitting an angle iron sticking out of the side of the ship with my right foot. Because this was against orders to swim off the ship in port we called our shipboard Corpsman back to sew up the hole in my foot instead of going to the base dispensary. Jerry came back a little under the influence and sewed up the toughest skin on the body.

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

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18
Jan

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

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman

profile1MKC Robert L. Harris

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(Served 1973-1996)

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

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

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

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

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

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9
Nov

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

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

profile1ET2 Max McHatton

U.S. Coast Guard

(Served 1974-1978)

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

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

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

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

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

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

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

American Legion, Patriot Guard Riders and Yakima Warrior Association.

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

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

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

Choose a career path that teaches marketable skills.

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

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

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.

18
Jan

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

View the service reflections of Coast Guard Auxiliary member:

fletch1SO Stephen Fletcher

U.S. Coast Guard Auxilary

(2014-Present)

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

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

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

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

WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teamwork is what these two awards recognize.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

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

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

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

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

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

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14
Dec

ET1 Kenneth Fron U.S. Coast Guard (1969-1974)

View the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

fronET1 Kenneth Fron

U.S. Coast Guard

(1969-1974)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/rsbv/Kenneth.Fron

If you served, join your brothers and sisters at TogetherWeServed.com

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

It was 1969 and my time at the local community college hadn’t worked out as planned. The options were to either enlist or to wait and see how lucky I would be in the draft. I decided to enlist. One of my father’s friends had been in the Coast Guard during World War II and he spent his entire tour of duty in Evanston, Illinois. Since I lived my entire life in the Chicago area, Evanston didn’t sound all that bad to me. Little did I know a local assignment wasn’t for me. My dad’s friend also said I’d be a name rather then a number because the Coast Guard was small by comparison to the other branches of the military. After hearing from my dad’s friend I went to see the Coast Guard recruiter about enlisting in the CG and did just that.

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?

On October 26, 1969 I reported to the CG recruiters office in Niles IL. There were two of us who reported that day and I don’t remember the other persons name. We were driven to Chicago’s O’hare Airport and departed for Philadelphia. This was my first flight. Once in Philly
we joined up with about 10 others heading to Cape May for boot camp. The bus ride was fun. We arrived in Cape May about midnight and things changed quickly. The bus ride to the base was nowhere near the fun the ride from Philly had been. We were informed we would not be sworn at and we were now classified as trainees undergoing recruit discipline. A few days later I was part of Company Quebec 77 and our DI was BM1 Cathy and his assistant was RM1 Brown (I met him again at Radio Station Miami 1973). Q77 provided me the typical boot camp experience with lots of PT included. In boot camp there was always something to do and some things were things done over and over again.

While I was in boot camp I was given the Naval Battery Test. The results of the test were used to indicate a person qualifications for the various CG ratings. My results indicated I was qualified for just about every rate in the Coast Guard except Sonar. I guess I had difficulty determining the tones during the audio portion of the sonar test. Since I wanted to be a cook I was not greatly disappointed by not qualifying for sonar school. When it came time to find out what would follow boot camp I had a short interview with a YN2 regarding my opportunities. When asked what I’d like to do I informed him I’d like to go to commissary school and learn how to cook. The YN2 informed me there were no openings for CS school at this time but from my test results it appeared Id make an exceptional ET or so I was led to believe. Later I found out there was a shortage of Electronics Technicians and there was a push on to make up for that shortage. I persisted about being a cook. The YN then told me I could be put on a wait list for an opening in CS school and in the interim I’d be assigned to a weather cutter in the North Atlantic. It was December and even being from Chicago I knew the North Atlantic wouldn’t be a very pleasant spot to be in January. So, I asked him to tell me more about being an ET. I was told it would be no problem getting into basic ET school at Governor’s Island and after school completion I would then be assigned to a duty station. I opted to go to basic ET school.

I went to ET school at Governor’s Island, I did well, graduated, and spent the next few years doing ET stuff and lots of other non-ET stuff. My first duty station was Loran Station Jupiter FL. I spent about two years at Jupiter (1970-1972) before moving on to Loran Station Lampedusa Italy. I spent one year at Lampedusa (1972-1973) before rotating out to Radio Station Miami FL (1973-1974). During my time as an ET I found out quite a lot about the duty stations that were open to ETs. Most were not fun places to be at and a lot of them were either isolated or restricted duty stations. I also found out that billets at some of the better stations seemed to be reserved for married personnel and a single guy like myself could only dream about going to Bermuda or Rhodes Greece (I’m still dreaming about visiting these places). I think it was not being able to determine my future or maybe more specifically not having much of a say in those decisions is why I didn’t make a career out of the Coast Guard.

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

I never did see combat during my tour of duty. About as close as it came to combat was the day a Libyan jet flew over Lampedusa. All we could do was report the incident to let the powers that be know we were being watched. That leaves peacekeeping and humanitarian endeavors which LORAN duty might be construed to cover both. The peacekeeping aspect of LORAN was pretty well understood. LORAN-C provided an indispensable service to other branches of the military. Without LORAN-C it might be difficult for those branches of the military to do their jobs should a first strike response become necessary. Even though you couldnt consider LORAN-C a deterrent it could most certainly be thought of as necessary for helping the other services keep the peace for us.

The humanitarian aspect of LORAN was that LORAN A/C could be it’s use as an aid to navigation. Though LORAN-C was mostly used by the government LORAN-A was used by fishermen and such to determine where they were when other methods failed them. As such, LORAN-A provided a very important humanitarian service to those at sea. Was there anything in being a LORANIMAL that was life changing? If nothing else it provided an insight to me that not all the important things in life are always the most visible things. Lets face it, not a lot of people knew how LORAN worked but that it did work and they were happy that it did. They didn’t know what it took to make it work and keep it 99.99% operational either but I never heard user complaints about that. Basically, it was one of those tasks in life that are very important but not highly visible. Things like this are things you have to learn to live with and let others take center stage.

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

I’d have to say being on the commissioning crew for LORSTA Lampedusa was the high point of my enlistment. I found out about being selected for this assignment though not the location shortly after going to my first duty station LORSTA Jupiter Florida. It amazed me that an SNET with no experience would be selected for what I thought to be such an important assignment. To make a very long story shorter, building LORSTA Lampedusa and making it operational was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. The crew arrived on the island June 1972 and by that time I was an ET2. The commissioning crew did so much with so little in such a short period of time it could be described as nothing less than an exceptional achievement. The station was fully operational in less than two months time.

The station wasn’t just operational but it was operating amazingly efficiently for a new station with a new crew. A lot of time, effort, and sacrifice went into making things happen and the credit goes to all those who were there on that island during the summer of 1972. My least favorite station was RADSTA Miami which was my final duty station. While on Lampedusa I made ET1 and indicated my choices for where I would like to be stationed at next. To my surprise I was sent to RADSAT Miami after Lampedusa! RADSAT Miami wasn’t on my list of choices for duty stations and I wondered why Miami? I was familiar with the Miami area from being stationed at Jupiter and I knew the Miami area wasn’t for me.

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

I think it was April 1971 when brush fires ravaged south Florida. I was stationed at Jupiter at this time and the Loran station was right in the cross hairs of these brush fires. Being a very dry period helped amplify the impact these fires had. The station managed to get equipment from the National Guard to fight the fires and protect the station. This was the first time I was involved with a round the clock operation and that’s just about what it took to save the barracks, signal power building, and the transmitter building from being engulfed by flames.

The crew worked around the clock fighting fires and waiting for the next wave of fires to hit the station. I watched as wild life ran for their lives and the crew used portable hoses and backpack units to protect what could be protected. I didn’t sleep much during those 4-5 days but in the end though the surrounding area was decimated the station was not damaged. I keep this in mind as an exceptional example of a crew working together to overcome exceptional odds.

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

The achievement I’m most proud of was my part in getting LORSTA Lampedusa operational (summer 1972). It was a two-year wait at LORSTA Jupiter for me before the orders for Lampedusa arrived. During those two years I made ET3 followed by ET2 and participated in ATLS training at the Naval Ammunition Depot Hawthorne NV (The ATLS equipment was stored at NAD Hawthorne). The next several paragraphs will detail why getting Lampedusa operational was the achievement I was most proud of in the CG. After the NAD training was over I went back to Jupiter to wait for orders to Lampedusa. Some time in the spring of 1972 orders were issued and the location of the station became known. I reported to Governor’s Island and later flew to Italy (Rome then Naples). The crew was billeted in barracks at the Naval Air Station in Naples. From there we departed for Isola de Lampedusa on a Navy C-130 aircraft to build an ATLS.

This was June and I found the weather to be HOT and DRY. Temperatures in the low 100s were not unusual in the early morning and 110 degree plus temperatures in the afternoon were common. The crew spent the next month putting the station together and making the equipment operational. The station consisted of 18 shelters, four 250 KW generators, two pallets, 3 mobilizers, and sets of mobilizer jacks. These shelters were commonly referred to as pinkies because of their color. The lightest pinky weighed about 6 tons and the heaviest tipped the scale at 12 tons.

I was part of a group that unloaded the ATLS trailers off of Air Force C-130s that delivered them to the island. As an ET, my main assignment at this time was to go to the landing strip, pick up a 6-12 ton ATLS pinky, load it on a mobilizer (trailer), transport the pinky to the station (about four miles), and then set the trailer on the ground through the use of four heavy man powered mobilizer jacks. When the trailers arrived by C-130 the final foundations for the trailers were not ready. So, all the pinkies were unloaded, driven to a holding area, lowered via the jacks, and then left there to wait until the concrete slabs for them were ready. This meant each of these trailers had to be raised via the jacks and transported to the slabs and lowered into their final positions yet again. Once the trailers were in place I happily put those 100+ pound jacks to rest in storage knowing full well I would never need to use them again because I would now concentrate on getting the station operational.

To get the station operational the ETs were split into two groups. I worked the evening shift from 6 PM to 8 AM along with Lt. Robert Bhend, ET1 John Wright (soon to be ETC), and SN Robb Pierson. The first step was to complete the wiring that would interconnect the various transmitter, timer, and cooling elements in the pinkies. Once this was accomplished the next step was to verify the wiring was done correctly. Next we worked on getting the water-cooling elements for the transmitters to function properly. Finally, after getting all the equipment functional we went operational toward the end of July 1972. In summary, being part of Lampedusa’s commissioning crew is something I will always be proud of. If interested, the gory details, some of which I touched upon, about ATLS deployment can be found via the following link to the Loran History web site:

http://www.loran-history.info/ATLS_Program/Air_Transportable_LORAN-C_System_-ATLS-Operational_Facility_Installation_Operation_and_Maintenance_Manual_Scanned_20Sep2010.pdf

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 Unit Commendation award for LORSTA Lampedusa is the most meaningful to me. The task at hand was difficult and I think we were the first and possibly the last Coast Guard crew to have accomplished an ATLS installation. It was an honor to have served with the Lampedusa commissioning crew pictured below. I’m in the center row far left side behind the ENCS in the first row. This picture also helps provide an insight into the scenic beauty Lampedusa had to offer!

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

This is a tough question to answer because I served with many great shipmates. While at Jupiter my watch supervisor was ET2 Bob Nahikian (Nik). Nik new a lot about military life and procedures and passed them as best as possible along to me. Nik was also the best model builder I ever saw. He could make an HO model look as if it was the real thing. However, if I had to pick one person then it would be ET1/ETC John Wright.

John was familiar with both the LORAN-C equipment and the ATLS configuration from having been exposed to both on Iwo Jima and Tan My. He was an expert at working on the transmitter and little did I know that would be my calling on Lampedusa. During my year on Lampedusa John became my mentor and taught me all he knew about the transmitters. He also treated everyone with respect and fairness. He was the best CPO I served under during my enlistment. I last saw John in 1982 and then lost contact with him about 1988. I reconnected with him about 15 years later (2003). I was saddened when I learned of his passing a few years back.

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?

During the time spent on Lampedusa records were kept about issues, shortages, and other things that impeded progress. There always seemed to be a shortage of parts and it wasn’t certain why that was. In the event of another ATLS deployment the brass wanted to be sure that most of the shortage issues encountered on Lampedusa would be avoided. To accomplish this, a small group of us were selected for a temporary duty assignment at NAD Hawthorne NV where the remaining two ATLS were stored. This assignment pre-empted my assignment at RADSTA Miami for about four months. Our task was to inventory the two ATLS in storage and make sure any shortages were filled.

One night while at a local watering hole and eatery the five of us got into a conversation with some of the local residents who were curious about what the heck the USCG was doing in the middle of a desert. We told them in no uncertain terms we were the lead surveying team that was investigating possible locations for lifeboat stations along the California-Nevada border. The locals gave us the strangest look and couldn’t believe what we were saying was gospel. We reiterated our statement with straight faces and told them a sea story (desert variety). In the early 1970s billionaire Howard Hughes was buying up lots of Las Vegas and Nevada property. There was also a rumor at that time that California would fall into the Pacific Ocean due to an earthquake. We informed the locals that Hughes had purchased a great deal of property along the California – Nevada border that was soon to become ocean front property after California slid into the Pacific Ocean! It was only natural the CG prepared for this by determining locations for lifeboat stations.

Surprisingly they bought it! Even our OIC Mr. Bhend was in on this desert sea story. We eventually came clean and the local cowboys weren’t upset at all and bought us a round of drinks (probably more than one round). I still laugh at this today. This was probably the biggest whopper I ever told.

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?

In the Coast Guard I learned that just because I was an ET that didn’t limit my duties to just electronics. I found I had many other duties to perform and that carried over into civilian life where I had multiple careers. Upon leaving the Coast Guard in February 1974 I returned to Chicago and decided to go back to college. The GI Bill helped but I still had to work full time to support myself. My first job was factory work at Danly Machine Corporation in Cicero, ILLINOIS. Danly manufactured large presses for the automobile industry, die sets, and specialty machinery. I started doing electrical assembly work and quickly advanced to the machine repair department to do electrical/electronic repairs on almost any type of metal working machine you could imagine (e.g., lathe, vertical boring mill, horizontal milling machine, screw machine, grinders, and so forth). I also did setup work on the new custom machines that Danly anufactured because the assembly department lacked staff with the necessary expertise. The high point was working on the machinery that fabricated the heat shield for the space shuttle. The shuttle had something like 23000 tiles in the heat shield and 21000 of them had different shapes. I worked at Danly from 1974 to 1983 and left due to an economic downturn.

My next career started in 1984 and ran to 2001 was with AT&T Bell Laboratories which morphed into Lucent Technologies. Bell Labs was a wonderful place to work and learn. It was a night and day different from working in a factory like Danly. Bell Labs offered tuition reimbursement and that allowed me to complete my BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. There were so many different things you could do at Bell Labs so work never became mundane. I started in a computer hardware development department, next I wrote software to test computers manufactured in Oklahoma City, I did test lab architecture for telephone switching systems, I tested switching system software, I wrote billing software applications for telephone switches, and I finished up doing customer responses for switching system bids. In 2001 when the Internet bubble broke so did Lucent’s bubble break. I was offered an early retirement at age 51 and took it.

Before leaving Lucent I had already thought about becoming a high school teacher and had taken a few classes necessary for teacher certification. When Lucent made the early retirement offer I was on an extended business trip in Brazil researching a new product. When I heard about the offer I decided to take it and start my teaching career earlier then planned. This was June 2001 and at that time Lucent had approximately 98,000 employees. Two years later there were only 30,000 employees left. Thankfully I made a wise decision when I left for the unknowns of teaching. My first teaching assignment was at Maria HS in Chicago. Maria HS was an all girls Catholic HS. In addition to my teaching Microsoft applications I also taught web programming. In my spare time I was anointed to be the school’s technical coordinator and that title made me responsible for all of the school’s computer hardware, software, and networking needs. During this time I was working on my Master’s in Teaching so I could be officially certified as a teacher in ILLINOIS. Needless to say there was never a dull moment for the three years (2001-2004) I spent at Maria HS.

I enjoyed Maria HS a great deal but I did not enjoy the 45 mile one way commute to work. After I received my ILLINOIS state teacher certification I started looking for a position closer to home and I found one at East Aurora HS. My assignment at EA HS was completely different from what I did at Maria HS. My EA HS assignment had to do with Alternative Education. Alternative Education is a fancy name for credit recovery. Credit recovery is a program that serves the needs of students who are behind in credits to graduate. Most of the students in credit recovery classes had not been successful in the traditional classroom so they were provided an opportunity to take courses via computer learning to recover those credits. This is one of the more challenging assignments any teacher can have. While at East Aurora HS I also coached golf and that was a very enjoyable experience for me.

I spent nine years at East Aurora HS helping students recover credits necessary for graduation. In 2013 I decided it was time to retire and to start doing all those other things one dreams about while working. For those thinking about teaching as a second career I recommend you do your homework before you take the plunge. Public schools have changed since I graduated high school in 1967 and any potential teacher needs to be aware of that before making a career decision. You might want to try being a substitute teacher before taking the plunge.

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

Together We Served is the only military association I’m a member of. Together We Served allows me to search and see what can be found from the years I served in the Coast Guard.

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

In the Coast Guard I think I acquired an attitude to never give up on anything I did. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t stop working on a project for a while but it did mean I didn’t quit or give up. Some projects I put on the shelf may have taken a while to complete but when they were finished they were great examples of form, fit, and function. I mention this because it did take me quite a while to earn my college degrees that were educational endeavors that I didn’t give up on and were slow in coming to completion.

AAS Business Data Processing 1983
BS Computer Science 1986
MS Computer Science 1992
MA Teaching 2003

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

When I joined the Coast Guard in 1969 I knew I’d be with the best and the other branches of the military got the rest. I have no reason to believe things have changed since then. The best advice I can give anyone is to always try and do the best you can. You can never be faulted for having done your best.

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

Together We Served has linked me to a number of shipmates from the past and that helps me to remember that time in my life. I also enjoy reading the biographies of other who served. It also reminds me of my enlistment experience which I wouldn’t trade for anything. Following Tony the Tiger’s lead being in the Coast Guard was GREAT!

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.

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

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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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