Ask the Chiefs

[from the vaults, 2007]

April 27

Yesterday I had lunch in the Chiefs’ Mess, and for the first time in two patrols learned that the Chiefs’ have their own motto: Ask the Chiefs.

boarding team list preboarding brief The Twin Towers

One of the first things the Captain told me was that the Coast Guard lives and dies with its Chiefs, and I’ve seen nothing on either Alex Haley or Munro to contradict that. They’ve seen everything, they’ve done everything, they teach everyone – Chief Greg Colvin teaches them how to shoot, Chief Will Ray and Chief Heidi Eystad how to fight fires, Chief Wes Guilmartin how to get the ship where it’s going, Chief Gene Mason how to do CPR, Chief Marc Blecman how to live underway.

GM1 Ramiro Surita at the ready

They are as a group rowdy and raucous and definitely a tough room, especially on each other, but there is no group you’d rather have at your back if you were in trouble. In attitude they hover somewhere between parents who practice tough love and a SWAT team. I didn’t dare go into the Chiefs’ Mess until I was specifically invited, and now they can’t beat me off with a stick. Hands down they tell the best, the most merciless and unquestionably the most uproarious stories, although I have been sternly cautioned that what happens in the Chiefs’ Mess stays in the Chiefs’ Mess. Aye, Chiefs.

the DCTT team, aka Team Evil SN Jonathan Hannans SN Jessica Roberts at the helm

Ask the Chiefs. Simple, direct, and oh so true. Also, my writer’s spidey sense can’t help but notice, two short vowel sounds followed by a long one, a two-syllable build up to a strong finish. Someone did that on purpose.

(And they have the best pirate voices ever. Don’t ask me how I know.)

FN Jonathan Lindberg SK3 Sara Johnson

Today I took my morning espresso to the bridge and hung out with OOD ENS Dan Schrader, BM2 Matt Hendricks, BM2 Steve Garon, and SN Dennis Gordon on the four-to-eight watch. Steve’s getting married to Rachel in June and he’s going to work for the CG MSST in San Diego while she studies to be a vet. Matt’s going to Florida to Station Key West. Dan and Dennis are coming to Alaska with Munro.

DC2 Shawn Milton

We launched the helo twice. We cancelled a main engine room fire drill, the P.O.D. thwarted yet again. Todd’s algebra class sits for their midterm tomorrow, as always ops permitting.

consulting the SHOP manual

Also ops permitting, my writers’ workshop meets for the last time tomorrow. It’s been an interesting class, with a lot fewer dropouts than I expected, especially since it isn’t for credit. Some of the students have serious talent. One thing that surprised me was that very few of them write about being underway. They’re living it, they don’t want to write about it, too. I have an idea about that, though….

helo firing

I look almost normal again, or at least no strong man has stepped hastily aside when he sees me coming lately. Although on the whole this crew was pretty sanguine about my close encounter with the Darwin sorter. “We’ve all done it,” SN Samantha Crane told me. She was the one who told me that iron helped bruises fade faster. I started remembering to take my One-a-Days and she was right. Maybe Doc needs to recruit her. I’m just happy I’m not going to live out my life as a cross between Cyclops and a gargoyle on Notre Dame.

Today’s photos are a miscellany, they don’t fit into any one blog topic and I’ve been looking for an excuse to post them. Enjoy!


For those of you who have inquired, this is how the blog works. At some point during the day I choose the subject of the blog, usually based on crew members, something that happened that day, some ship’s system or procedure I’ve been puzzling on for a while, like flight ops or tac numbers. I’ll ask the Captain if it’s okay. Sometimes it isn’t. I take photos and get good quotes (easy to do with this crew). After it’s written I submit the blog and photos to the Captain, the XO and Ops for scrubbing. This is so I don’t commit any OPSEC (operational security) errors and, you know, start a war on

Then I post the photos to the Flickr file, acquire the thumbnails, copy them to the blog typescript, and copy and paste the whole thing onto the website. Then I go back and lay in the links to Munro, Alex Haley, previous posts, Fred’s Place, Hitron, like that. This can take hours because Internet access is very slow underway. Et voila!

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Dana View All →

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8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Robert (age 6)would like to shout out a hello w/ hugs and kisses to his big sissy, SN Stephanie Deck. He would love to see a recent picture of her and her “farmer’s tan” she get while on the steel beach!
    Thanks Dana for your work while on the Munro. It helps for all ages!

  2. Stephanie was one of the gunners on the 50-caliber live fire shoot, but you couldn’t tell because of all the protective gear they were wearing. I think she was the only one wearing a gray helmet, however.

  3. *Big flowery compliment on your writing skills* ~giggle~
    Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy my daily dose of this, especially since my local library is being verrryyyyyy slow about updating it’s collection of your books.
    Kudos galore for you and the crew of the Munro!

  4. Dana, my husband forwarded something a while back about a contest with Alaskan and Coastie questions with your DVD’s as prizes. I was just wondering what the results were. Can you post them? The questions seemed pretty difficult to me and for some of them, personal knowlege has to be an edge – like for the number of jayhawks in Kodiak. Thanks, Syntha

  5. Shelly,
    I agree, I enjoy a daily dose as well. I don’t always get to read it daily(nightly) so, yes, I will read a couple days at a time instead of going to bed. I can’t get enough of it.
    Thanks again,

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