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Posts tagged ‘coast guard veteran’

3
Nov

#TributetoaVeteran FN Charles Spivey, U.S. Coast Guard, 1965-1969

22
Jun

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

Personal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

wolfeET3 James Wolfe

U.S. Coast Guard

(1966-1970)

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

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

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

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

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

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18
May

RM2 Kenneth Jordan U.S. Coast Guard (1961-1965)

jordanPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

RM2 Kenneth Jordan

U.S. Coast Guard

(1961-1965)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/bio/Kenneth.Jordan

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

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

My best friend and neighbor growing up didn’t finish high school and went into the Coast Guard four months before graduation. Over the next two years I followed his career since he was stationed only 110 miles away on CGC Coos Bay. I took him back to his ship whenever he came home on liberty or leave and met many of his shipmates.

Two years out of high school it was time for me to consider the military, and since I was familiar with the Coast Guard and how it plays such a significant peacetime mission, the choice was easy.

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

Since high school I had been working for an electronics parts wholesale distributor. Nearly everyone working there had an amateur radio license and encouraged me to get one, which I did (the boss gave me a $5 bonus when I got my call sign). It was my hope to get to radio school and become a shipboard radioman. Near the end of boot camp I took the test with 3 other shipmates. We all made it to school and roomed together. Even though I graduated 2nd in class I didn’t get my 3rd class rate because I failed to copy at 15 words per minute. That really spurred me on when I got to my first ship, and 6 months later I made RM3. My Chief, John Gellings, was a good teacher and I made RM2 eight months later. With two years in I wanted to test myself to see if I wanted to make a career of the service, so I asked for an assignment where there would only be 1 or 2 other radiomen to rely on.

My next assignment in 1962 was to the USCGC Casco (WHEC-370) where I was the only radioman responsible for all communications when underway. With a crew of 45 men it was more like family and I really enjoyed my time on this ship. In cooperation with universities in the eastern United States and international agencies, Casco conducted oceanographic experiments between South America and Africa from August 1, 1963 to August 19, 1963. The Casco was home ported in Boston, MA for the duration of her life in the Coast Guard. The cutter participated in ocean station, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations in the Atlantic Ocean. A balloon shelter was added aft; there were spaces devoted to oceanographic equipment and hydrographic and oceanographic winches were added.

In 1964 I was assigned to the USCGC Hornbeam (WLB-394/NODM); a cutter with a legendary past. Following the collision between passenger ships Andrea Doria and Stockholm off Nantucket on July 26, 1956, Hornbeam assisted with rescue operations. The bow of the Swedish ship crashed through passenger cabins and 46 passengers and crew were killed, sinking the Andrea Doria into the bottom of the Atlantic. Five crewmen of the Stockholm were killed in the collision but she was able to limp back to New York.

On August 7, 1958 Hornbeam assisted rescue operations following the collision between merchant ship Graham and oil taker Gulf Oil in the east passage of Narragansett Bay. On January 29, 1961 she assisted USCGC Spar aground in Narragansett Bay.

While I was assigned to the ship we escorted USS Atka, which was taking on water off New Bedford, MA. That was in March and April 1965. In late November 1965 Hornbeam assisted the merchant ship American Pilot and Maumee Sun following their collision west of the Cape Cod Canal.

A little over six years after I left the Hornbeam, she had her own collision in which she sustained damage to her starboard side. It happened 24, 1972 when she collided with the British merchant ship Docelago. Fortunately there were no casualties aboard either ship.

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

Although I served a little over a year in the Vietnam era I did not see combat or go overseas. I do however remember very well going to DEFCON 2 for 13 days during the Cuban Missile Crisis; sometimes referred to as the October Crisis or The Missile Scare. When the Navy was fully deployed, our ship, CGC Casco, was assigned to escort an aircraft carrier from Boston Navy Yard to Cuba. We got underway and had just reached Boston outer harbor when we got word to stand down as the crisis was over. A near miss!

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a tense, 13-day political and military standoff in October 1962 between the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores. In a TV address on October 22, 1962, President John Kennedy notified Americans about the presence of the missiles and said the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security. Following this news, many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war. However, disaster was avoided when the U.S. agreed to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s (1894-1971) offer to remove the Cuban missiles in exchange for the U.S. promising not to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.

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 were my 18 months on the CGC Hornbeam. It was stationed at Woods Hole on Cape Cod. There were a number of shipmates that I became very good friends with and whenever we were in port we had great times together going ashore.

I had gotten married and was able to live with my wife in an apartment off base. It was a working ship, going out about 3 or 4 days a week, sometimes 3 days in a row staying overnight, but many times out at 8 am and back by 7 PM. I felt our work was useful, and as the only radioman, I felt my job was important.

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

There are two. While on the CGC Casco we took part in an International Scientific study, EQUALANT II, involving many countries studying the water temperature and weather patterns along the equator. We sailed from Boston, MA to a point off the coast of the Canary Islands and back along the equator to Rio de Janereio, where we had 3 days liberty. In the 30 plus days of sailing I was initiated as a Shellback crossing the equator and we travelled 10,000 nautical miles.

The second memory was a rescue at sea in a hurricane. We had been undergoing efficiency training with the Navy at Gitmo when hurricane Floyd hit Cuba and we were ordered to ride it out at sea. After about 5 days of pretty rough sailing we returned to Gitmo where we were ordered to return to Boston. Riding some still pretty rough seas we were on the outskirts of hurricane Ginny. Off the coast of North Carolina we were ordered by the 5TH District Commander to turn into hurricane Ginny to locate the Navy DE-57 USS Fogg. It was being towed for decommissioning when its tow line broke and the Navy Tug headed to port. There was a 10 man decommissioning crew on board. After 1 1/2 days we found the ship, established communications and stayed with it until the CG Tug Chilula arrived. We then escorted the tow into Norfolk before returning to Boston. The official record states that seas were 65 ft. and winds 90MPH. The Commandant of the Coast Guard sent us a letter of commendation for our efforts.

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

The Commandant’s Letter of Commendation for the rescue of DE-57, the good conduct medal for 3 yrs. proficiency and conduct, the sea service ribbon for over 3 yrs. at sea, and the National Defense Ribbon for more than 90 days service after April 1964 when the Vietnam War was declared.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I was proud to be a sea sailor and appreciate my sea service ribbon. The National Defense Medal because I did serve during the Vietnam era and for 18 months was subject to being called for overseas duty.

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

My first Chief, John Gellings. There were 10 radiomen on the Casco and he did an excellent job of guiding all of us. I worked very hard to obtain my 2nd Class stripes and when I had completed all the courses and passed all the military questions I brought mypapers to him to sign and pass forward. He told me I had to pass his test first. It was a 40 question open book test, and I spent a lot of time while on watch on an Ocean Station Patrol going through pubs and looking for answers. It took me the whole 30 days, but in the process of searching I kept coming across other interesting information that I would read or note down.

When we arrived back in port he graded my test (38 right out of 40 – two answers I couldn’t find) and sent my papers right in. Smart ways to have me learn even more than I needed. He said he didn’t want anybody learning how to be 2nd class on the job; they needed to know before he would recommend the rate. He was very pleasant and good natured and we had an excellent radio crew because of him.

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?

There was a St. Patrick’s Day when 4 of us thought it would be neat to wear green neckerchiefs instead of our blue ones. They really stood out on our dress blues, but every bar we went to someone bought us a drink.

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 service I went back to my former civilian job, but 2 years later I started a career in real estate sales. Forty four years later I am still full time selling and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

I have one son who retired a year ago as a CPO in the Navy and a younger son who just completed his 12th year in the Navy and is an Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class. My wife and I live in a home we built 14 years ago in a typical New England village. My hobbies are antique cars, gardening on our 7 acres and travel throughout New England.

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

It taught me to focus and work hard toward my goals. My leadership training has helped me in many ways, and working under great pressure, as during a rescue or emergency at sea, has helped me in life’s further challenges.

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

Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, do the best job you can, and be respectful to those who have responsibility above you.

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

It has connected me with 4 shipmates from boot camp and school. It has also helped me learn about others who had similar experiences to mine and makes me feel like a ‘team member” even after all these years.

27
Apr

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

wilsonPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

CWO4 Robert R Wilson

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1965-1989)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I retired in Sep 1989.

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

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

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

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3
Mar

SN Beau Bridges US Coast Guard (1959-1967)

beauView the Military Service of Actor:

SN Beau Bridges

US Coast Guard

(1959-1967)

Shadow Box: http://coastguard.togetherweserved.com/profile/10466

Short Bio: The actor, accepting on behalf of his late father and his younger Oscar-winning brother (off working on his sideline as a country singer these days), did eight years, including time in the reserves; on the USCGC Dexter he was both a cook and editor of the ship’s newspaper.

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