Shoot Out On West Patrol 

By Donald H. Ward



I had not been located at the new Coast Guard Station at Cape Elizabeth Maine very long when I made friends with another sailor who had enlisted prior to the WWII and was still a Seaman 2c. He was not happy with the way the rates was given out, having been at the station over a year and was still pounding the beaches. He had been to three Captain’s Masts and was almost court-martialed for insubordination He was up on charges of trying to throw the Chief out of the second story window, for what reason I never knew.

We all called him “Ski”. He was Polish and from Cape Cod, Mass. He was like myself—enlisted to go to sea but got stuck on a beach-pounding station. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Coast Guard Life Saving Stations, just the old salts that ran them—they thought they owned the damn place.

Ski and I had been assigned to walk the west patrol one night. He went ahead of me and I left ten minutes later. We had planned to meet just beyond High Head, a landmark along the patrol. We could see out to the south, and off to the east you could see Ram Island, which was attached to the mainland by a breakwater that was almost covered at high tide.

As we walked along we began talking about the Chief and how we disliked him so. We both had our own opinion about his actions with the people serving under him. Ski told me at this point that he expected the Chief to check to see if we were walking together or stayed apart as told to do. Ski said he also would send one of the first class Boatswains Mates at times.

Ski was sitting down and looking at the hilltop as I approached. He beckoned me to get down. I dropped to the ground just as he pointed his gun and fired a shot. “What did you see?” I exclaimed.

“That damn Chief was checking on us and I took a shot at his heels”. I knew at this point we were in big trouble. I imagined everyone at the station would come out to see what happened, but after about half an hour we started walking again. As we reached the end of our walk, we sat down while Ski cleaned his gun so as not to have any clues that it had been used. I ask how he was going to account for the expanded shell?

Ski found out that the Army was allowed ammunition for target practice and they had given him about 100 rounds, and this is how he accounted for using any that he had been assigned.

On returning to the station we met a reception party at the door and was barraged with questions about a shooting on the west patrol. We had no statements to make as we did not see or hear anything that night.

Our equipment was immediately inspected to see if we had done any shooting. We got out of that one, but I will never forget the Shoot Out On The West Patrol at Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

edited by Donald Gardner


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