An unsung job in the Coast Guard is that of Captain of The Port. Here's a short tale about a Commander who made it interesting...
TO GUARD -- TO PROTECT
A gimlet eyed barrel-chested Coast Guard commander boarded the Streamliner in Los Angeles and left behind a series of legends that would do credit to the crustiest admiral. After two and one-half years as the colorfully efficient guardian of the vital port of Los Angeles, 46 year old Commander Frank David Higbee had a new assignment where he would undoubtedly originate more forecastle tales. With him he carried the thanks of Mayor Fletcher Bowron and a scroll from his enlisted men; "Just blow that whistle from Greenland's icy mountain to India's coral strand and there won't be a man jack left us in California." So assiduously did the Captain of the Port, Los Angeles carry on his constant inspections that the civilian port guards said; "There are two things to watch out for; the Japs and Higbee."
He loved to demonstrate that Los Angeles was inadequately guarded against fire and the enemy. Harbor industrialists and merchants were shocked out of their complacency when Higbee took them on a tour.
Some Higbee legends:
On an oil dock Commander Higbee found a puddle of oil, threw a cigarette in it, watched it blaze, ordered a coxswain to put it out. Then on a dry lumber stack nearby he pinned his card, "Dear Watchman, I was here, Where were you?"
Horrified spectators watched the Commander grab a revolver, drill a hole into a ten-gallon can. He explained, "It's just water, but it's been hanging around there for nine days labeled 'dynamite' and nobody noticed it."
Whenever he found guards sleeping, Higbee pushed them off the piers ... then he sent his men to rescue them.
Higbee noted proudly that a General Courts Martial had never been necessary for any of his Coast Guardsmen. One reason: Higbee in a seaman's uniform tried once to board a vessel, was ordered off by a guard. Pulling his dinghy to the other side, he tried again. This time he was knocked over the side. Next day Higbee commended his alert guard. Said he; "You don't go around just to catch up with the bums."
From "This -*?#!@*? Was The Coast Guard" by Esther Stormer ©1985
Reprinted by permission.
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