The Chief and the Artist

By Ted McCormack


In the late Spring of 1970 the Deck Force of the Coast Guard's icebreaker Westwind was once again repainting the entire ship, and the job of doing the large Coast Guard Shield in the middle of the International Orange "racing stripe" was assigned to one of my shipmates, Leancy Bertram Rupert, IV.

Rupert, like many non rates of that tumultuous period, was always testing the limits of the Coast Guard's rules and regulations. Whether hair length, beards, sideburns, civilian clothes, or whatever, Rupert usually traveled very close to the edge of insubordination, and he often made difficult the lives of certain officers and chiefs. Despite his sometimes maddening performance, he had artistic talents, so the Chief Boats gave Rupert the special responsibility for the two large Coast Guard Shields on the Westwind's hull.

Rupert spent most of a day over the side in a Bosun's chair putting a fresh coat of paint on the inboard shield, and when he had finished that afternoon, anyone could see that he had done an excellent job. 

As the Chief Boats was leaving the dock on an errand, he passed by the newly-painted Coast Guard Shield. He suddenly stopped. Then he backed up and stared at the shield for the longest time. Someone observing him could tell that the Chief saw something out of the ordinary. Then he saw it, and you could hear the Chief's roar all the way into captain's cabin, "RUPERT!"

Instead of date "1790" at the bottom of the shield, Rupert had painted "1970."


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