[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Box ops, still walking the beat, although Ops has spiced things up by substituting a hexagon for the box, with track lines, which keeps everyone a little more on their toes.
I have noticed that there’s what you might call a “go to” guy in every department. On the Munro‘s bridge it’s BM1 Terry Bailey. He’s always up there, always instructing and guiding the break-ins at nav as well as the helm and lookout. He sends them off to study their DC PQS so they’ll pass their test to qualify, quizzes them on their quartermaster duties, coaches crewmen on the various signals on the bosun’s pipe, counsels crew members about weigh-ins, consults with the junior officers on course changes. He’s about to begin breaking in as OOD. I’ve seen him polishing the brass.
He’s been in ten years, was a bosun’s mate before he was a quartermaster (“I like being up here better”) and he’s going to Kodiak with the ship. He’s kind of looking forward to it. He misses his wife and his two daughters (ages 1 and 4), but understands that it’s the price of being underway. He’s hoping one day to return to St. Louis, on a smaller boat or a land station, and might like to command. This is something I just learned, that in the Coast Guard ratings can be promoted to command both on land as well as on many of the smaller boats. Kinda cool.
Yesterday there were two promotions at quarters, SN Dario Garza to BM3 (photo courtesy of BM3 Jordan Wagstaff) and PO Josh Hendl to GM1. Also, ENS Chris McGhee passed his OOD board examination yesterday morning and last night stood his first OOD watch without supervision. All three gentlemen look appreciably taller than they did the day before.
PO Clarice Farrar is one of our SKs or storekeepers by day and by night a phone talker on the bridge for flight ops (see photo). She’s very soft-spoken when she’s not bellowing out “Red deck!” She’s from Georgia, and she’s a little nervous about the Kodiak move. “I don’t like cold weather.” She started in the Army and switched to the Coast Guard. “I like the way the Coast Guard treats you.”
Yesterday was the first day for EO LT Todd Raybon’s college-level algebra class on the mess deck. He has sixteen students who will earn college credit for the course, and he arrived ready to teach attired in aloha shirt and bermuda shorts. It took a while for the roar to subside, but it was a clever move to put his students, many of whom on watch are his employees, at ease. He says once he got away from the book to drawing problems on the white board he was okay. It’s his first time teaching. Ever.
Day after day I go down to the mess deck, and day after day I see PO Lee Schob and PO Matthew Dulemba in the galley, chopping lettuce, grating cheese, filling plates with meatball sandwiches. The quality of food underway is pretty good (the soups in particular have been great, you should have tasted yesterday’s shrimp gumbo, I had three bowls between lunch and dinner), and I like to think it’s because Lee and Matt always have a smile on their faces when I see them. Almost every Coastie I’ve ever met says the mess cooks have the worst job in the Coast Guard. At this latitude, it has to be even worse, it’s as hot or hotter in the galley than it is in the engine room. When you’re away from home for long periods of time, good food assumes a greater than usual importance in people’s lives.
Remember SN Paloma Orozco from the hazard to navigation post? Last night after flight ops was abbreviated by weather she was on duty on the bridge and we were watching a magnificent lightning storm off our stern. She was telling me that her whole life she has wanted to be a fireman. Out of high school she took a look at who was applying (“A lot of them were policemen”) and decided that the competition was so fierce that she needed something else on her resume, so she joined the Coast Guard. She thinks that will help move her nearer to the head of the line when it comes time to apply for the fire department. I think she’s right.
Later Baby Doc (PO Chris Schultz) showed up. Turns out that he is also a qualified quartermaster and stands watch. His enlistment is up later this year and he is returning to the Chicago Police Department. “My girlfriend won’t stand for another underway.”
Click here to order a copy.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.