My First Day in The USCG

By Victor Linderholm


September 10th 1963 started like most of my days had up till then, but this one was to be vastly different, long and uncertain. I had enlisted in the Coast Guard at Long Beach and spent what seemed an eternity filling out forms and then having a physical examination. This was the day: I was to be at the recruiters in the morning to be sworn in and shipped off to boot camp at Alameda, California.

My father took me to Long Beach and stayed while I was sworn in with a small group of recruits. After the ceremony we would travel under orders to Alameda in a group. The recruiter drove us to the Los Angeles International Airport, Western Airlines terminal, for the flight to Oakland where someone from boot camp would meet us. It sounded so simple.

The recruiter stayed until we got on the DC6. We taxied out to the runway, ran the engines up, and started the takeoff run, but almost immediately the pilot shut down and we made a rather abrupt stop. The pilot announced we would be going back to the terminal for some minor repairs. I noted he had shut down the right side inboard engine—a good sign.

We sat on the airplane for about 30 minuets while the maintenance people worked on the engine. Eventually we were told that the flight had been cancelled and we would have to get off the airplane. We wondered how the Coast Guard expected us to be in Oakland on time while we were still at LAX.

After some discussion with Western Airlines, and helped by the father of one of the recruits, we got on a flight to San Francisco with an agreement that Western would pay our cab fare from San Francisco Airport to Alameda. The cab delivered us to the JOODs office a little after 1800 where we found that we had been listed as AWOL. Never mind the flight had not showed up. We got a lot of in your face yelling from the JOOD. Then we were sent off to someplace called forming company.

On the way there someone came up behind me and said, “You are going to hate it here.” It was a friend from high school, Bobby Horner. To this day I have never been able to figure out how he slipped into and out of our formation.

Our company was formed and we met RD2 Cooke, who took charge of us for the evening—he could yell louder than the guy in the JOOD office—and told us that we would be in Company Kilo 41, and the company commander would be Mr. Meredith, the toughest and meanest Company Commander that Alameda had ever seen.

The rest of the evening is a blur. I do remember hot and cold running showers, one of RD2 Cooke’s hobbies. All the showers are turned on with every other one being hot or cold, and every time Cooke blew his whistle, you moved from a hot one to a cold one or vice versa.

I guess we got clean but it was not any fun. We ended the evening with a skivvies inspection. Cooke found someone with his on backwards. This poor soul was made to stand while we all walked by to have a look.

So ended my first day in the Coast Guard.

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