PREFACE TO COAST GUARD STORIES VOLUME I
By Jack Eckert & Don Gardner
This is the preface to the book
the Spring of 1998 I decided to try my hand at an Internet web site to tell the
Coast Guard story through the eyes of the participants. Initially I seeded it
with some of the stories of my early years, then added several stories from
other sources that I believed were in the public domain. A request at Fred’s
Place, the internet registry for Coast Guardsmen, asked for contributions in
the form of stories and poems.
web site began to take on a life of its own, although rather slowly. Don Gardner
was one of the first to answer. Don had collected stories from amateur radio
operators who were members of his club, but his effort was directed toward
putting the stories in print.
the beginning we freely collaborated—by melding our efforts, we have obtained
many more stories than we would have by working alone—and which we believe
will benefit the ultimate readers.
career in the Coast Guard was in communications. His view is from a different
perspective than mine—the engine room. While comparing notes we often saw the
same things but from different vantage points, and this has helped greatly.
of us enjoy writing, but I must say that his British lexicon drives me nuts. We
often cross-check each other’s work, which has proven beneficial in many
instances as we have much in common, but again from different vantage points.
The effort of Don’s book, Coast Guard
Stories, and that of Jack’s Joint,
is to preserve the culture of the Coast Guard as known and lived through the
eyes of many participants.
our lifetime the Coast Guard has almost suffered several cultural deaths. The
Rum War Coast Guard of the Prohibition era; the almost non-existent Coast Guard
of the Depression era; to the vastly expanded WW II Coast Guard; through the
drastically reduced Coast Guard of the late forties; to the cold war Coast Guard
of the fifties, sixties, and early seventies; and to the law enforcement Coast
Guard of the eighties and nineties that is in place today. Through all of these
era’s since the end of World War I there runs a common thread holding this
small brotherhood of men and women together. Consider the following:
Coast Guard is a unique service with a unique set of missions that are
constantly changing, requiring versatility and the ability to adapt to change
rapidly. The major differences between our small service and the others is the
recognition of the individual person who is serving, that we train for wartime
service by working everyday in our peace missions and that we are more
generalists than we are specialists. Our motto is “Semper Paratus,” but it
could just as easily be “Can Do.”
men and women of the Coast Guard are always proud to wear the shield and
proclaim they are members of the Coast Guard. Former members, whether “one
hitchers” or retired “lifers,” share this pride. While we wore the
Navy-style uniform, we were quick to point with pride to our shield and proclaim
with pride that we were Coasties!
so dear reader, open the book, read and savor the stories, and let your
imagination roam through the adventures of the Coasties at sea, ashore, and in
the air. Learn of some of the interesting characters who played roles in the
daily dramas. Feel the passion and pathos in many of the tales. Most of
. . and Acknowledgements
former members, we hold the Coast Guard close and dear in our hearts and memory.
We are absolutely confident that although the Coast Guard has and will continue
to make many changes that may be foreign to us ‘old salts’, our service will
continue to uphold its high traditions and spirit of ‘can do’.
members of a small organisation that were the poor cousins of the Navy, using
their cast-off equipment, their cast-off ships, their uniforms (we added a
shield); their dirty jobs; and anything else they could put on us. But taking
pride in our service and its traditions, we were able to operate well beyond
expectations. Refresher training scores usually revealed that our Cutters scored
higher than the Navy—we could use their castoff equipment better than they
could use their supposedly improved, newer equipment.
the way we had some fun! A number of stories here are of the ‘now it can be
told’ variety (because you can’t do anything about it?). Sometimes, when the
ship’s motto seemed to be ‘There will be no Liberty until morale
improves’, (used commonly on the GRESHAM),
we had to create our own morale.
of the stories used here were downloaded from Jack’s Joint (www.jacksjoint.com/); the remainder of the stories
were received directly by me, usually from members of the Coast Guard Club
and may or may not be posted, in whole or in part, at Jack’s site.
Jack uses American English, I prefer
using English English—not to annoy
him, however, but because I can’t help myself. Radiomen everywhere who have
stood endless radio watches, with two CW frequencies on the ‘cans’ (split
phone watch) and 4 on speakers, who have drunk endless cups of black coffee, and
suffer from Morseus Excessus
(exhibiting strange characteristics) know well what I speak of.
strange affliction manifested itself in Bermuda when I awoke one morning and
found that I had become an ardent Anglophile overnight. Looking into the mirror
quickly before it broke did not disclose anything abnormal except me, but a side
effect of this malady became evident rapidly—whenever I typed a letter to mail
home, my ‘normal’ spelling had changed.
don’t think the side effects of Morseus
Excessus is terminal, but to ameliorate the major problem associated with
this condition (whistling Morse code aloud), I must use English English. All the stories I have written in this collection
written by is, as you can see, in that foreign language. Stories from Jack’s
Joint were not changed from American English, although this has required
that I take to bed on occasion to recuperate from the after effects.
those who contributed to this initial effort, we would really like to extend our
heartfelt ‘thanks’; obviously it would not have been possible without you.
The stories have been amusing, thoughtful, informative, and insightful. This
collection depended on the participation of Coasties who took the time to sit
down to write their reminisces of the times and places which remained fondly and
firmly in their memories. Many of the stories began, ‘you may not believe
this, but . . .’ and end with ‘and that’s no &#@%$#@!’ (Aviation
stories begin usually with, ‘there we were at 10,000 feet and number (?)
engine went out. . .’)
and I will expectantly continue to collect your sea tales. As Jack said, the
view from the bridge area and the engine room is not identical; and Boatswains
Mates, Gunners Mates, Commissary Stewards, et
al, also have different slants on life in the Coast Guard, and that makes
interesting reading indeed. Future and present day Coasties may get a taste of
what life was like from a long-ago era and find that, after all, perhaps there
isn’t much difference between the Rum Runners War and today’s Drug War.
encourage everyone who served in the Coast Guard to sit down and write a story
for posterity. You need not worry about punctuation or spelling—just tell your
story in your words and between Jack
and me, we will have it up on his web site and in the next anthology of Coast
Guard Stories, Vol. II. So, turn to on the typewriter!
Point, North Carolina
 A club for licenced radio amateurs who have served in the USCG or USCGR.
CONTACT DON FOR A PRINTED COPY OF THE BOOK OR JACK FOR THE BOOK IN ADOBE ACROBAT (.PDF) FORMAT ON A CDROM DISK
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