This is a world few of us "Black Shoe" people know much about. It is about time that they were included in our Coast Guard family of sea stories, sand tales, and twixt sea and sand. Jerry experienced these events first hand..............


By Jerold L.(Jerry) Wanek

While stationed at CGAS Brooklyn as an AT3, I was on watch in the Operations Office when I received a phone call from a very angry official at Jones Beach Long Island. He was yelling at me over the phone that a Coast Guard Aircraft was buzzing the Beach at about 35 feet off the deck.

Being the efficient watchstander that I was, I radioed Lt. Dempsey and Co-Pilot Lt. Bill Bixford and reported the call asking them if they had spotted any low flying USCG aircraft in the area knowing quite well they were the two culprits. Lt. Dempsey radioed back that they were at 25 feet and didn't see anyone.

The civilian that had called in was so angry he couldn't even get the number correct on the aircraft.

(NOTE) to Jack: In relating the story to now CAPT Bill Bixford (retired) at our PTERO roost in Pensacola this past October 97. Bill told me Dempsey joked he put his hand out the window to cover up the numbers so he couldn't be identified. (LOL)

The Second Story:

This happened while I was stationed at CGAS Brooklyn and again while I was on operations watch. On a weekend we usually had only a skeleton crew on duty, about six pilots. We had scrambled two aircraft attempting to locate, by directional finder fix, a boat screaming MAYDAY. Radio Cape May and Radio New York could not get a fix because of the boat's weak signal. One plane was east along Long Island and the south along the New Jersey coast. Both were about an hour out. We got a call to scramble a Helicopter for a rescue operation (burning boat in New York Harbor.) Our last remaining Pilot and Officer Lt. Dewey Barfield had to take the Helo flight. We had called in CDR Lou Hopper but he lived about 20-30 minutes away from the base. Only two guys were left on the base that knew how to operate the radio's and the operations center, myself and an AL2 who was busy in the radio room. We had a couple of CPO's aboard but they knew nothing about the flight operations department. So, as Lt. Barfield ran out the door heading for the chopper he yelled at me "Wanek, your in command until CDR Hopper gets aboard !" We had a little difficulty convincing Third District Headquarters that an AT3 (yours truly) was in command of the Air Station. (for about 20 minutes.)

- Jerold L.(Jerry) Wanek AT-3 USCG 1959-63

These two stories are in the book U.S. COAST GUARD AVIATION 1916-1996 by TURNER PUBLICATIONS.



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