I REMEMBER JACK MAIN
By Jack A. Eckert
Armand Brunette wrote a letter enclosing a letter from Jack Main, which I am including, in part, below.
June 13, 1992
I enjoyed talking to you last night as I mentioned. I have been on nearly every East Coast Cutter and one on the West Coast. Some of these ships, or should I say most of them are long gone now. The following is a list of the ships and the number of times I was on each one:
Ingham 14 Absecon 12 Chincoteague 12 Mendota 12 Taney 11 Duane 10 Owasco 7 Spencer 7 McCulloch 7 Half Moon 5 Bibb 5 Sebago 4 Rockaway 4 Campbell 4 Cook Inlet 4 Gresham 3 Barataria 3 Castle Rock 3 Androscoggin 3 Hamilton 2 Boutwell 2 Escanaba 2 Mackinac 2 Ponchartrain 2 Morganthau 2 Munro 1 Sherman 1 Gallatin 1 Yakutat 1 Humboldt 1 Chambers 1 Coos Bay 1 Unimak 1
That adds up to 150 trips aboard Coast Guard ships. Most of the trips were about five weeks long but one was two and one half months in the South Pacific.
These ships represent the five classes of ships that stood weather patrol. This would be 255' or Lake Class Cutters; 311' or ex-AVP Navy Seaplane Tenders; 327' and 378' cutters were Secretary Classes and the Chambers was the one lone ex-Navy Destroyer Escort which was the worst riding ship the Coast Guard ever had.
Jack Main was a Civilian Weatherman who was assigned to the various East Coast Cutters beginning in 1950. OSJ has not contacted him directly but it is assumed he left his Weather Ship duties about 1970. 150 patrols over 20 years is about 7-1/2 patrols per year. That is about 233 days at sea per year every year. How many of us "Old Salt's" can make that claim. He should be nominated as "Lord HIGH BRINE Density." That is more than just being an "Old Salt" and we should stand at attention in his presence and salute him.
The "Weather Birds" were a hardy breed, they had to be. It is one thing to go to sea as continuously as they did but to go to sea on Weather Wagons was something else. They worked around the clock like most of the sailors did.
They were given the privileges of officers but in some respects that wasn't really a plus for them. Their sleeping quarters were the worst available that could still be considered in Officer's Country. They ate in the Ward Room which meant they paid for their meals directly. Every one of the larger ships in those days had an Ensign type Mess Treasurer trying to preserve as much as possible of his (there were no her's) monthly meal allowance of $47.88. On one ship a Junior Officer bragged that the mess bill for the entire patrol was $7.77. While the Weather Birds didn't have to pay much for their chow, they didn't eat very well either. There weren't very many fat weathermen.
For the most part these fellow's were a decent lot. They didn't mix much with the Officers and men but were not aloof either. They are forgotten today to almost everybody but us "Old Salt's."
Jack Main was an avid ham radio operator and was the first man to legally bring his gear aboard ship. In 1964 he had orders to the Castle Rock in Boston and knew he was going to Ireland after the trip. It was a long one and he "sweet talked" the Skipper into permission to bring his little HW-32 and a hustler antenna along. That worked out so well and so many patches were made including several emergency messages that the Coast Guard decided to let him bring his rig on any ship he wanted to. All he had to do was secure the Captains permission. Slowly all of the ships got their own gear and if they had a licensed ham on board would operate with Jack Main filling in when needed.
Yes Jack Main, you are remembered!