The Fund Raiser
By Don Opedal
Somewhere along the
line in 1976 on the WESTWIND the CO, CDR Tom Volke came up with idea to
raise money for the Coast Guard Academy visitor center.
Why he would do that, I
don’t know; he wasn’t a ring knocker. In fact he and the XO, CDR Tom Lain,
were both mustangs. So was I. My OCS classmate ENS John Lubar and the two
warrant officers also occupied the wardroom with 16 or so ring knockers. The
Academy Ensigns like to point out they were senior to me as they had graduated a
day earlier. I like to point out I made more money since I had five years of
The plan was to allow
officers to be “hired” to do any task on the ship. Participation was
voluntary and the rates ran from something like $1/hour for a
Warrant/Ensign/LTJG to $4/hour for a CDR. There were many benefits to this
program. Of course, the primary benefit was a morale boost. Officers got an
opportunity to do things and see parts of the ship they would have otherwise not
done or seen. Enlisted folks had the opportunity to train and supervise the
officers. Alliances were formed, strategies decided, and battle plans drawn.
CDR Volkle and I were
prime instigators and fundraisers. We sought contacts within each other’s
realm of acquaintances (e.g., family, friends, old shipmates) for funding
support. I even approached VADM in charge of the Atlantic Area who had served
with CDR Volkle at one point. (CAPT Volkle and I still stay in touch. He says to
call him Tom and I say, “Aye aye, Captain.”)
It was not unusual to
go on the bridge to find the Quartermaster and Helmsman replaced with an officer.
(Of course, the real QM and helmsman were there to supervise.)
I hired the CO to stand my OOD anchor watch at least once.
(I was busy building a computer and TV in my stateroom.) I was hired to clean the inside of the boiler. Still gives me
creeps to think about squeezing inside that steel coffin thinking about the
possibility of it firing up. My buddy ENS Dennis Thorseth kept his blackened
overalls from his boiler foray in a paper bag in his closet for several
years. Dennis and I live near each other and still talk about the experience. I
believe he was the #3 fundraiser.
One night while in port Dennis and set out to find the lowest parts of
the ship. Unlocking hatches and going down we eventually found the forward shaft
alley. How many wind-class sailors have been there?
Speaking of going down,
the CO got someone to hire me to clean the bilges. Dennis also remembers that
task; laying on your belly scooping “stuff” out from under hot, noisy,
machines and passing it up to be dumped. But hey, I hired the CO to be the
recipient of the stuff and dump it. So who was taking crap from whom?
I was also hired to
empty the #2 holding tank (I think that is what is was called.)
Best I recall is scooping buckets of sewage out and dumping them. Right
next to that was our “Post Office”. It was a small compartment, maybe 6 ft.
by 8 ft. with a lockable gate of steel bars, like a jail cell. I guess it would
also double as the brig. In fact, the CO had been hired to paint the space and I
came by and locked the gate. Hearing him beg me to let him out was interesting.
Return To Coast Guard Stories