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Posts tagged ‘Coastie’

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.

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.”

5
Oct

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

Read the service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman

gradyCWO3 Grady H Stribling

US Coast Guard (Ret)

(1964-1985)

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

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

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

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

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retired August, 1985.

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

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

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

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

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31
Aug

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

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

LT Robert McAllister

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1958-1979)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2
Jun

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

councilPersonal Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

LCDR ROBERT COUNCIL

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)

(1961-1986)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13
Apr

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

View Service Reflections of US Coast Guardsman:

laphamEN2 Arnold Taylor Lapham

U.S. Coast Guard

(1966-1970)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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