A Coast Guard career could have ended that cold January day in Alaska.


by Jack A. Eckert



It had been a long day. Our STD-3 team, DCC Ray Wells, GM1 Jerry Pierson, YN1 Razzy Rassmussen, RDC Billy Belch and myself had left Kodiak in the morning on that nasty day in January of 1972 on a Wien Airline 737 jet. The flight to Anchorage was a bit bumpy but that is what flying is all about in Alaska in the wintertime. After landing we hung around the airport for several hours and then boarded another Wien Airline flight, this time to Homer. It sure made no sense, we had flown right by Homer in the morning and now we were taking an F-27 back down the Kenai Peninsula. This flight was in the air longer then the jet flight had been.

We crunched down in Homer, and were picked up by a couple of crewmen from the CGC IRONWOOD and driven to our Hotel, The Heady House. We thanked our drivers and bid them farewell until the morrow when we were going to work with them.

In those days and probably even now, unlike other Alaska hamlets, Homer had no identifiable downtown. It was about four in the afternoon, the hotel was a bit dismal to hang around and we adjourned across the street to the Sterling Cafe where we tippled a few and got acquainted with some of the populace. We ate a bite or two and then adjourned across the street to the Sterling Cafe (that's right, there were and maybe are two of them, one across the street from the other.)

By this time it was about seven and we decided to check the place out for future reference. Who knows, this might someday have the makings of a good sea story.

Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves striking up new acquaintances. I decided that it was getting to be my bedtime. I had plenty of antifreeze in me to make it through the below zero weather to the Heady House about 200 yards away and on to dreamland.

I bid the guys and others we were talking with good night, put on my parka and headed out the front door of the bar. I hadn't walked more then ten steps when the biggest moose I had ever seen moved towards me and stopped a few feet away, He stared right into my eyes. I could not only see his breath in the cold but could smell it as well.

From the lore that I was familiar with, a moose is rather cranky. I stood there frozen in my steps wondering if this was the end for me. I mentally retraced my footsteps to where I was standing back to the bar. The moose stood still, steam coming from his nostrils, his eyes full of hate.

I suddenly, after saying a mental prayer and promising to be a good boy if I ever got out of this predicament, turned tail and ran for the door of the bar as quickly as I could, and I thanked my guardian angel that the door opened inward.

Once inside, gasping for breath, I heard the sound of hoofs on the front porch of the bar. I then heard a couple of laughs. Welcome to Homer friend ---- You have been six-packed.

That night I hung the last dog as there was no way in the world that I was going to proceed to the Heady House alone with that huge moose out there waiting for me to show up alone again. My mama raised no dummy! My crew escorted me back.

I was sure glad the next day when we got underway on the IRONWOOD that we weren't going into rough water.


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