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My Life In the Coast Guard
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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3A
Chapter 3B
Chapter 3C
Chapter 3D
Chapter 4
Chapter 5A
Chapter 5B
Chapter 5C
Chapter 6
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Chapter 4

Machinist Technician School

 

        When I reported to machinist technician school at Yorktown VA the temperatures were in the high 90s and none of the classrooms were air-conditioned. I had just come from Detroit where the nighttime temperatures were in the 40s and the temperature shock was very difficult to deal with. It seemed as if my alertness had left me and I was struggling to remain alert in class. It to look two weeks before I had become acclimated to the temperature. On the very first day I was appointed master at arms of my class due to the fact that I was the oldest. When you go to school to command structure is similar to that of boot camp. The master at arms is responsible for getting the class to perform their required cleanups for barracks inspection on Friday. In addition to this they are responsible for the cleanup of the classrooms at the end of each day. My class was composed of reservists who had just graduated from high school who would rather be chasing girls on the beach than buffing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms. The other half of my class was composed of active duty personnel who had just come from ships. When the active duty people noticed that the reservists didn't want to clean they didn't want to either. Consequently nobody wanted to work and I was the person who was responsible for making them work. As you can see I had my work cut out for me.

        I knew it was going to be difficult and that I had to do something to serve as a motivator to get the class going, so I told them on the first day of class that the first time we won barracks inspection we would throw a party at the officers club and that I was paying the bill. The class initially seemed excited about the idea until they found out how hard it was going to be to win barracks inspection. It seemed as if the inspectors had it out for us from the beginning. Then came the day that we were gigged for having a dirty window sill in the laundry room. We were domiciled on the ground floor, consequently due to the construction of the building there was no window in the laundry room. When I saw the report for the inspection I was furious and reported back to the head the enlisted man in charge of our class and asked him politely to re-inspect us. I brought it to his attention that there was no window in the laundry room. He refused to comply with my request and I told him that it was obvious to me and my entire class that barracks inspection on Friday was rigged. I asked him how he could expect my class to take barracks inspection seriously when the inspectors obviously didn't even know what part of the building they were inspecting and who was responsible for it. His reply was, "I don't care." From that day forth I couldn't get the class to work and wound up doing most of the job myself because I knew it wasn't going to be done if I didn't.

        I had two roommates who were a great bunch of guys. My favorite of the two was Enrique Velez from Puerto Rico. He was a surfer and very proud of his island home. Listening to him talk about Puerto Rico really made me want to go down there and check it out. There were a couple other guys who became good friends also. During the entire length of my active duty service, going to machinist technician school was the happiest, even in spite of the rigged barracks inspections.  One weekend I took several of the guys who had no vehicles with them to get a tour of the new Bear Class Coast Guard Cutter.  It was quite a sight to see.

The Guys

        My wife had been staying with her parents while I went through machinist technicians school. Her parents decided to vacation in the Boston area, taking in the historical sites there. I had made arrangements to meet up with them in Boston and before I made the trip Chief Yeoman Max Rodax who was Laurie Roberts immediate supervisor had offered to let my wife live in his house during my last month of machinist technicians school. I probably never thanked Max enough for what he did so I'm doing it now.

Max Rodecker
Me                     &                    Max

Max was the best Chief I ever met in the Coast Guard. He became the first Chief to prove to me that all Chiefs were not assholes. The Friday before I was due to depart to pick up my wife my class one barracks inspection. I don't know how we won because after the window sill incident no one was enthusiastic about cleaning up. What I do know is that the other classes who had won barracks inspection numerous times did virtually no work to prepare for this inspection and we won essentially by default. The timing of winning barracks inspection couldn't have been worse, because I was forced to inform my class who was well aware of my plans to visit my wife in advance that we would have to delay the party till the following week. My class was upset with me because I didn't immediately cancel my trip to visit my wife and when the following Friday arrived 98 percent of the class decided that they would go on a camping trip in the mountains instead. I discovered that this was going to happen about two days before it did and it broke my heart. There was only one guy who showed up for the party and I simply gave him to $80 and left the base to get drunk in private.

        When it came time to select my next unit I selected a search and rescue station because I didn't want to go back to another ship. I chose Coast Guard Station Panama City because I had been there on vacation with my family when I was in high school. I knew the area of fairly well and thought it would be a relaxed environment where I could finish out my final two years in peace. Talk about jumping from the frying pan to the fire. That's exactly what I did. Another reason why I chose this unit was due to the fact that it was between two Air Force bases that would be able to provide a high level of medical care for my wife who had severe orthopedic problems with her knees.

 

 

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