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Posts tagged ‘coast guard’

13
Jul

#TributetoaVeteran – CWO4 Robert Wilson, Jr U.S. Coast Guard 1965-1989

3
Nov

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

1
May

National Coast Guard Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29
Mar

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

profile2Read the service reflections of

TCCM Dennis White

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1972-1998)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22
Feb

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

Read the service reflections of Coast Guardsman:

13496_medFTCM Lonnie Jones

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1956-1977)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/1/1972 I transferred to CG Institute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do not have a least favorite.

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

How could you choose one over the other?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18
Jan

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

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman

profile1MKC Robert L. Harris

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(Served 1973-1996)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14
Dec

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

Read the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardman

coteMK2 Bill Cote

U.S. Coast Guard

(1979-1988)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved all my duty stations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duke crossed over.

I still hunt with MK1 Charles Dean.

The Hamilton twins crossed the bar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9
Nov

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

Read the service reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

profile1ET2 Max McHatton

U.S. Coast Guard

(Served 1974-1978)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Legion, Patriot Guard Riders and Yakima Warrior Association.

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

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

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

Choose a career path that teaches marketable skills.

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

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

5
Oct

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

Read the service reflections of U.S. Coast Guardsman

profile1LT David Potter

U.S. Coast Guard

(1968-1973)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3
Oct

Profile in Courage: Heroes of the Coast Guard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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