Why I like these guys

That’s kind of a breathtaking photo above of the now decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa. I say it’s breathtaking. It certainly is to me and I imagine it is to many people like myself who have spent time at sea in a storm. The picture was taken in October 1991, probably off the coast of Massachusetts. It was during the real “Perfect Storm” in which the fishing vessel Andrea Gail was lost. I could say something mean about George Clooney, who played the Andrea Gail’s driven captain in the movie, “The Perfect Storm,” but I won’t. Hint: Not a big George Clooney fan.

Such storms are the kind of environment in which the Coast Guard works. They plow the rollicking ocean in ships such as the 205-foot Tamaroa or fly their helicopters in the storms to try to save lives. Many times the people they will be rescuing are jammed up because of stupidity. But, yes, the good old Coast Guard rescues stupid mariners too.

We used to deride the Coast Guard when I served in the Navy because their ships primarily wouldn’t operate too far from land. For instance: “You have to be 6 feet tall to join the Coast Guard. Why? Because if your ship sinks you have to be able to walk ashore.” But that is just the kind of good-natured BS that goes on between members of different armed services.

I long have had a deep respect for the Coast Guard, even before I joined the Navy. As a matter of fact, I thought about joining the Coast Guard instead of the Navy. But a hometown buddy who enlisted with me and went to boot camp with me talked me out of the idea. It all worked out.

These Coast Guard people are also protecting our ports the best they can from terrorists. That is a difficult task in itself. The Coast Guard was one of the “lucky” agencies to get folded into the new Homeland Security Department after spending a number of years under the U.S. Department of Transportation. They are still military even though they are not part of the Defense Department. Hey, it’s a long story.

I had a friend tell me a story one time which I have no idea if it’s true. The person who told me was always good at embellishing. This guy served on an icebreaker before the Navy turned icebreaking duties over to the Coast Guard. He said they had “liberty call,” in Antarctica where they were able to get off the ship for a little while onto a big ice patch. He said a Coast Guard icebreaker was also with their ship. The Navy’s sailors gathered on the ice in their denim working uniforms. But the Coast Guard’s sailors had to wear dress uniforms ashore. It sounds like bullshit to me. But it’s a pretty strange story. Talk about your dress codes. Who knows, maybe they didn’t want the penguins in their tuxedos showing them up.

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