I grew up in Cape May, NJ, home of the Coast Guard Training Center. My love for the sea and familiarity with the Coast Guard directed me toward a Coast Guard career. Even now, after 16 years, I still say that I can’t be too far from the water.
Out of boot camp, I went to Yorktown, VA, for a 4-month course in engineering. My first assignment was back home in Cape May aboard the cutter Alert. My first duty assignment was basic engine cleaning. However, it was not long before I was promoted in both rank and responsibility. I was assigned to overhauling small boilers and maintaining the fresh water system. I also helped repair auxiliary engine equipment (engines that are used in place of the sails).
My next assignment was a 1-year tour in Japan. I started out as a watchstander and advanced to supervise the overhaul of engines and auxiliary equipment. I then returned to Cape May to become part of the Aids to Navigation Team, responsible for operating and maintaining several boats, lighthouses, and navigation buoys.
I left active duty after 8 years, but stayed in the Coast Guard Reserve, working weekends as a small boat operator on search and rescue missions. Three years later, seeking greater job security, I decided to go back on active duty. I was assigned to the Eagle, the Coast Guard Academy’s training vessel. In the winter, I supervised the modernization of the ship’s auxiliary equipment. In the summer, as the Eagle sailed across the Caribbean and the Atlantic to Europe, I gave the cadets instruction in seamanship and the ship’s auxiliary equipment.
My next assignment was on the West Coast where I was the engineering supervisor on the Point Ledge, a vessel used for search and rescue and drug enforcement along the California coast. For the past 2 years, I have worked at the Coast Guard shipyard in Baltimore, MD. In charge of equipment for a variety of vessels, I order parts and advise the ship’s crew on how to replace broken parts and repair equipment.