When a Coastie ends up permanently in another service there must be a good reason....


By John F. O'Brien


As a young, patriotic zealot of 17, I enlisted in the Coast Guard at Boston, Massachusetts during April of 1945.

When the war ended without my help I wondered, "what happens now?"

What happened was assignment to the USCGC PIMLICO. She was a coal burner, semi-retired, and charged with patrolling the intercoastal waterways between North Carolina and Virginia.

My first assignment was the fireroom ... all 135 pounds, 5 feet, 9 inches of me. I was handed a shovel, hoe, and slash bar and taught how to feed the three fireboxes making steam for our two-three stage reciprocating engines. It was all in order for these engines to drive us at a flank speed of ten knots.

My first assignment in the fireroom ended one day later as we steamed towards Portsmouth, Virginia. The twelve-foot slash bar that was used to break up the fire had gotten the best of me. Specifically I had neither the muscle, nor the desire to force the bar between the clinker and the gate.

As we approached a drawbridge, the Captain attempted to sound the whistle to signal the bridge tender. All that was heard was a very weak squeak. The fires were burning but not hot enough to produce the steam necessary to blow the whistle.

My very next assignment was on the deck force.

John F. O'Brien ultimately retired as a Major from the U.S. Army.


From "This - *?#!*@*? Was the Coast Guard" by Esther Stormer © 1985 - Reprinted by permission.



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