From the Homefront: Top 10 things we wish people knew about Coast Guard life

Twice a month, Coast Guard All Hands will feature “From the Homefront,” a column for Coast Guard spouses by Coast Guard spouse Shelley Kimball. Shelley has been married to Capt. Joe Kimball, commanding officer of Air Station Miami, for nearly 13 years and currently serves as chapter director for Blue Star Families in Miami, Fla.

The Joint Service Color Guard performs at a welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2014. The combined unit, which performs routinely for national and international leaders, includes three Army soldiers, two Marines and one service member each the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Katryn Tuton.

The Joint Service Color Guard performs at a welcoming ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Pentagon, Jan. 10, 2014. The combined unit, which performs routinely for national and international leaders, includes three Army soldiers, two Marines and one service member each the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Katryn Tuton.

Written by Shelley Kimball.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

I spend a lot of time explaining Coast Guard life to other people – not just here, but everywhere: to my neighbors, at the gym, at the grocery store, at kids’ birthday parties. I know I am not alone. Every Coastie I know has a set list of responses for the questions we get. We love that people want to understand us. So this week I crowd-sourced the question and asked people to tell me what they wish people knew about Coast Guard life. I sent out a survey over social media, and asked everyone to weigh in to come up with the following top 10 list.

1. The Coast Guard is a part of the military. If there was one most frequently asked question, this is it. Let me explain definitively that, yes, the Coast Guard is part of the United States Armed Forces, according to Title 10, Section 101 of the U.S. Code. The confusion may arise because the Coast Guard is housed under the Department of Homeland Security, but it is still one of the armed forces. I can’t agree more with the participant who said, “That the Coast Guard is part of the military, facing the same issues as other services. I have met many people who think Coast Guard members work one weekend a month and are sometimes called up during emergencies. I wish they knew that we are active duty every day, with families who face long deployments, frequent moves, dangerous situations, and other struggles.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class Brice Fronek, with Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, guards contraband at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, April 26, 2013. The contraband was seized during an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea, April 18, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class Brice Fronek, with Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, guards contraband at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, April 26, 2013. The contraband was seized during an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea, April 18, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque.

2. The Coast Guard does more than search and rescue. Take a look at this cool snapshot of the Coast Guard. Yes, we are incredibly proud of the 20, 510 search and rescue missions in 2012, and the 3, 800 lives saved. But we also want everyone to recognize the thousands and thousands of maritime inspections and boardings Coasties conducted to keep our waters safe. And add to that the drug interdictions – more than 166,000 pounds of cocaine was removed in 2012. Just this week, the Coast Guard in Miami seized what may be a historic amount of cocaine – $37 million worth.

3. We do so much with so few. There are about 43,000 active duty members in the Coast Guard. One participant said, “The USCG is a very selective branch and just because we’re small doesn’t mean we aren’t powerful!” And that’s true. Go back to those boarding and drug interdiction figures and remember that the Coast Guard has only about 8,500 more people than the New York City Police Department.

4. Coasties are on duty every single day. The Coast Guard is active duty, not a reserve unit. (We do have separate reserve and auxiliary units.) I often tell people that when your family would batten down the hatches in the face of an emergency, that is when our Coast Guard members are heading to work. The Coast Guard is on duty 24/7, and it has been since 1790.

Members of Port Security Unit 312 board a plane at San Francisco International Airport en route to the Middle East in 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield.

Members of Port Security Unit 312 board a plane at San Francisco International Airport en route to the Middle East in 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield.

5. The Coast Guard deploys. Last year, members of the Coast Guard deployed to Iraq to protect the maritime oil infrastructure, but also to train the Iraqi naval service. The Coast Guard has also provided security and support to Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia deploy for a year at a time to the Middle East. In wartime, the Coast Guard can also be called to augment the Navy. Stateside, Coasties deploy every day in their duties – there are cutters out for months at a time.

6. We PCS, and no we can’t always pick where we go. We do get wish lists and dream sheets, but that doesn’t mean we always get our top choices, just like every other military service branch. We generally move every two to four years.

7. Not all military support programs include the Coast Guard. Remember how I explained that we are part of the Department of Homeland Security? Well, some of the family support programs are only for the branches under the Department of Defense, so we get left out of those. (It’s a budget issue, not a preferential one.)

8. We rely on, and we appreciate community programs that support the Coast Guard. So, because of #7, the programs that include the Coast Guard are really important to us. Our bases are also smaller, and therefore we don’t necessarily have commissaries and exchanges like other services. As one participant said, “For communities to have programs in place for military members and their dependents, it’s really needed and appreciated.”

9. We are not all on the coast – some of us are inland. For example, the Eighth Coast Guard District runs from the ports of New Orleans and Houston north through 26 states in the heartland. This district protects 10,300 miles of inland waterways.

Flag-waving family members welcome the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bear home following a 58-day deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Flag-waving family members welcome the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bear home following a 58-day deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

10. We take great pride in Coast Guard service. We are a close-knit military service, and we are proud of the sacrifices our families make to help keep the Coast Guard strong. I love how one Coastie summed it up: “That most of us are just normal people who are just happy being married to our Coastie. Even if it isn’t always the most glamorous or accommodating lifestyle, when the day ends we just want to be home with our spouse and our families.” And another, who said, “I wish people knew how often we move, how little control we have over transfers, how often they are at sea, how isolated we can be from military support services, and how service impacts our children. Also, how proud we are and the great work done by Coasties.”

The more people learn about us, the more they will embrace and understand us. What do you find yourself wanting to share with others about Coast Guard life? Is there something you explain a lot? Here is your chance — share your stories and perspectives below!

The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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66 Responses

  1. PO1/MST1 says:

    Great article.
    I am a Petty Officer/Marine Science Technician and am currently active duty. Right now I’am TDY at the Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy. It has been an enlightening experience for me. Not only have i learned about leadership, the Air Force and National Guard, I have gotten the opportunity to explain what it is we “Coast Guard,” actually do. Some funny comments I’ve heard since I’ve been here are, “Is the Coast Guard to Navy like the National Guard is to Air Force?” “Are y’all full time or just the weekend?” Most importantly, I truly acknowledged my role within the organization. I think we Coasties sometimes forget we all play a part and forget the big picture. Its because we aren’t all pilots, rescue swimmers, coxswains, boarding officers and so on, thats why we feel our contributions are sometimes insignificant. But after writing several essays about our service, I see the big picture. For example, the YN’s ensure we are all getting paid and in case something were to happen to one of us, they are the ones ensuring paper work is complete so our family is taking care of. SK’s who order the parts others need in order to make repairs to boats/cutters/helicopters and etc… to make it possible to do their missions. MST’s who ensure that the vessels and facilities are operating safely to ensure that our resources (food, fuel, electronics, the list goes on) make it here safely in order for Americans to continue their way of life. Interesting fact, 95% of global commerce is carried by Sea. I could continue to write about each rate and their impact but I think you get the point. I never been more proud to be a Coast Guardsmen and I just wanted to share my thoughts.

  2. Sheila A Vergés Osuna says:

    Great article Shelley! My husband has been in the CG since 2006. Prior to that he was in the Air Force for four years. I have had people telling me that he is not truly military since he got out of the AF! I can identify myself with almost all of your points! We have moved four times since 2006 and currently we are stationed in Virginia near Washington D.C., not in the coast. Thank you for sharing all this valuable information.

  3. Shelley Kimball says:

    Thank you, first, for all you do for the Coast Guard! And, thanks from me for sharing your thoughts — great input!

  4. Shelley Kimball says:

    Thanks for your comment! I totally relate to that experience of having to explain the CG is military. Now I plan to cite the federal code I listed in the column!

  5. Brittany Frates says:

    Same here! My husband is also prior service Air Force where he did 4 yrs active duty. He got out and then 2 yrs later joined the Coast Guard in 2009 where he is also active duty and plans to retire. I have been with him through both services and the coast guard is just as “military” as the air force, they just have a different mission and less resources due to budget and size of the branch! lol 🙂

  6. Shelley Kimball says:

    You are so right about the academy! And here’s a link to a previous column in which Mrs. Papp spoke about the housing situation — she said they study housing regularly to try to figure out how best to serve families:

  7. ZiEnid Narvaez says:

    Thank you for the link. Mrs.Papp is always so involved. Nice to know this is done. And by “they” I was referring to people outside of the CG. I hear those comments often “how come you don’t live on base” or “if you go to XYZ base you should get a house right away without a problem”.
    You really captured it in words. Great article.

  8. Mandy Baker says:

    Great points! I think all of us Coastie families wish more people understood them!

  9. Jay says:

    Awesome article but I am not seeing the part where you join and not go to a school for 2-3 years. Basically you join and waste taxpayers money by sitting around and/or doing meaningless work. I agree, the coast guard is so much more than most think and it is part of military even though they don’t act like it.

  10. Eric Norton says:

    “We are the misuderstood and often the forgotten. We have done so much with so little for so long we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. CG Brothers & Sisters in Adversity.
    E.N. Norton

  11. Kirsten Couture says:

    Fantastic article! Ms. Kimball just summed up my 15 years as a proud Coastie wife. And after all the years of premature transfers, deployments, and playing both Mom and Dad, if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing! I love our life 🙂

  12. josh reeve bm1 says:

    You want the truth? Get ready for some reality. The coast guard is as far from the military as you can possibly get. The coast guard is a joke on its best day. A military organization, by definition, is a battle ready organization which the coast guard is not. That might cost money and maybe even be something worth being intimidated of and those are two things the coast guard will never risk.
    Its a harsh reality but as a veteran operational coasty I can’t help but be an expert in these things. The uscg and government in general is more worried about their payroll than they are about their people.
    The worst part is, do not try telling them the truth. That’s a one way ticket out the door. Thank god. At least im not ” fighting” for freedoms I dont have anymore

  13. Charlie MacLean says:

    Jay, I live on an Air Force base and I am wondering what the military is supposed to act like. Beyond the fact that very few of the airmen on base observe colors, judging from several I have seen in uniform, I don’t believe that they have a uniform regulation manual. From going on to Navy bases for medical for most of my career, I have come to believe that most of the Navy has no clue what military bearing is. If you want to complain about wasting tax payer money, how about people sucking up welfare and not even doing meaningless work.

  14. J.d. Naron says:

    #5 is the question I get most. Whenever people ask where my dad is I tell them he is deployed because he is in the coast guard (most recently to the Middle East to lead PATFORSWA which is mentioned in #5) and most of them never knew that they get deployed.

  15. Retired MCPO says:

    Jay, I don’t know where you got that idea, but non-rates are driving our Cutters (helmsmen), doing law enforcement missions as boarding team members, and are even driving some of our small boats (I’ve known lots of SNBM’s that had Coxswain quals). In my 19 months as a non-rate waiting for A School, I was probably doing “meaningless” work for about three days. The rest was spent actually saving money and saving lives.

  16. Brandon says:

    There is no meaningless job in the Coast Guard. And if you are going to talk about taxpayers money, look at the budget for each service first. Most individuals join and don’t exactly know which rate (job) they want to do. Clearly, you don’t understand our organization Jay.

  17. Don says:

    Shelley, thank you for this well thought out article. I’ve read some of the responses and as a career Coastie, BMC, Ret. I’ve heard similar responses from people who feel that they are overlooked all too often. Very few people know what the Coast Guard does and this gives us the opportunity to reach out to our communities across the USA. I work with developmentally disabled adults and one of the things that they find so amazing are some of the sea stories that I can share with them about rescues, law enforcement cases, and generally what I did while I was serving. They are amazed and in awe of some of the situations that I’ve been in and how we worked our way through those situations. I hope that this article with spark an outreach for each person who reads this article to spread our experiences and lives as a Coastie.

  18. Karen Davis Rohl says:

    Mandy, didn’t you do a paper on this??

  19. Cheriek21 says:

    First of all, Thank you! A great article and very true. Jay, I also don’t know where you get your information. I have all my Fathers cases, and many of them were extremely dangerous and life threatening. He was the Commander of the 8th District in N.O. My Son also was in this great service, and many times he called me and said they armed their boats. So as a Daughter and Mother of a Coastie and traveled every 4 yrs to a new location and seeing my Dad leave during the worst weather to fly to rescue someone with NO thanks I can tell you that yes they may sit around at the base at times but they are very ready to rescue protect and fight for our country. I support ALL military services but the Coast Guard will be in my heart forever! A VERY misunderstood Branch of the ARMED Forces! And if there are any Coasties out there that need anything at all, I am ready to stand up and help.

  20. Cheriek21 says:

    First of all Thank you. Great article and very true. Jay, I also don’t know where you get your information. I have all my Fathers cases, and many of them were extremely dangerous and life threatening. He was the Commander of the 8th District in N.O. My Son also was in this great service, and many times he called me and said they armed their boats. So as a Daughter and Mother of a Coastie and traveled every 4 yrs to a new location and seeing my Dad leave during the worst weather to fly to rescue someone with NO thanks I can tell you that yes they may sit around at the base at times but they are very ready to rescue protect and fight for our country. I support ALL military services but the Coast Guard will be in my heart forever! A VERY misunderstood Branch of the ARMED Forces! And if there are any Coasties out there that need anything at all, I am ready to stand up and help.

  21. Cheriek21 says:

    Jay, I also don’t know where you get your information. I have all my Fathers cases, and many of them were extremely dangerous and life threatening. He was the Commander of the 8th District in N.O. My Son also was in this great service, and many times he called me and said they armed their boats. So as a Daughter and Mother of a Coastie and traveled every 4 yrs to a new location and seeing my Dad leave during the worst weather to fly to rescue someone with NO thanks I can tell you that yes they may sit around at the base at times but they are very ready to rescue protect and fight for our country. I support ALL military services but the Coast Guard will be in my heart forever! A VERY misunderstood Branch of the ARMED Forces! And if there are any Coasties out there that need anything at all, I am ready to stand up and help.

  22. who cares says:

    Jay….I completely agree with the waste of 2 or 3 years. I will also agree w master chief as well. When these kids join and are indecisive is when they end up a non-rate for two or three years. It is a waste of their time…. not the tax payers money. During the six years I was in the coast guard not at one point was there not atleast one rate to get a guranteed A-school for. In fact if you would use your brain and do a little research they are tax payers as well. I do not know when people got the idea military do not pay taxes like everyone else. They do all the things master chief described, as well as painting, nonskid,and many more crappy jobs. To put this in perspective the national security cutter I was on originally had a contract to be painted by contractors vs. Nonrates. This contract would cost the coast guard over a million dollars. Insteqd they pay these non rates less than minimum wage. For all you saying “less than minimum wage?” Yes it is true. In the coast guard you get paid according to the wait for it……MILITARY pay chart….huh I wonder why they do that? Anyways back to the point…. its salary. Take the 12 to 16 hrs. A day that they may put in bc of some stupid chqnge of command ceremony were all these officers want to have a dick swinging contest. Were im going w this is there are many arguments as to how the coast guard is the military or how they dont look like the military but who cares. I didnt join the coast guard to be appreciated, to walk in parades, or to have to argue my way as to why I should or shouldnt be called military. What is important id that members of the coast guard are putting their life on the line every dqy. Just as well as every other branch. So everyone quit crying over stupid shit. If u want to cry then read this article about my friend who was recently killed while rescuing mariners in the bearing sea. Quit all your bickering and live your damn lifes.

  23. Carlos Johnson says:

    Josh – I’m not sure where you read that definition, but I couldn’t find the term “battle ready” in any dictionary’s definition for the word “military” or the term “military organization.”

    As for being battle ready – The Coast Guard isn’t *supposed* to be ready for large ground engagements, naval, or air battles. The CG has historically performed specialized roles in past wars and conflicts, and is likely quite ready to perform similar and expanded roles today.

    The CG is a military service because there’s a U.S. Code that says it is. Pretty simple. The CG has the same benefits and pay grades, and is subject to the UCMJ. That sounds kinda military, dontcha think?

    The CG is no more supposed to be capable of large-scale combat operations than the Air Force is supposed to be for port security operations.

    PS
    Tell the families of Nathan Bruckenthal or Douglas Munro that the Coast Guard isn’t military.

  24. Kimberly Velez-Kincannon says:

    To all of the nay-sayers on here, I will offer this: I am currently a Coastie, but am formerly a Navy sailor. I have been in the ‘war fighting scenarios’ and the peace time ones. It isn’t the CG’s ability or inability to fight a war that makes us a branch of the military. We fight a war on drugs every day. Something that affects our nation more than a violent war overseas. We also stop illegal immigration. Saving those aforementioned tax-payers millions each year by preventing more people from entering the welfare and/or prison systems. So no, I don’t lace my boots up and grab my M16 anymore to fight a conventional war, but everyday I save lives. And in the end, isn’t saving a life more valuable than taking one?
    I loved my time in the Navy, but I’m proud I made the switch. Semper P

  25. Jim Dolbow says:

    Very well written article! It is one of my biggest pet peeves when people on Veterans Day and Memorial Day mention the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps while forgetting the Coast Guard!

  26. Ashley-Ann Woods says:

    Great article Shelley. I would add several things about our patrols and deployments. Many people I talk to are shocked that we don’t get to communicate with our spouses on a daily basis when they are deployed. With all the new advances in technology and the depictions on tv of members skyping on ships and overseas, most people I talk to assume that we can just Skype or FaceTime every day. They have a hard time understanding the OPSEC regulations in place that don’t allow this on a cutter. We are lucky when the email is up and running and can get 1 or 2 emails a day. And when the email is down we have a much better appreciation for those spouses before internet.
    I would also expand on the routine during natural disasters. Yes, when everyone else is running the other way, our Coasties are running in, and that means they have to leave their families to handle things on their own. Most people don’t think about the fact that Coast Guard families have to evacute hurricanes, most times leaving their Coastie behind. So you have to be stronger as a family unit, not only to be able to evacuate the kids, dog, cats, goldfish and whatever else you need, but do it alone. And deal with the worry not only about what you left behind, but who you left behind.
    I can’t thank all our Coasties enough for the job they do daily, and with very little appreciation or understanding.

  27. Ralph Owen Dennis says:

    Mrs. Kimball,
    I am a Coast Guard brat. Yes, at 65 years old, I am still a Coast Guard brat. There are some differences in my brothers and I and the current day brat. In many cases today, the Coastie deploys for a year at a time. Back when I was a kid, there were year long deployments- mostly to “isolated” stations (usually in the Artic- but I think the hardest for us was the “weather station” duty. Back before weather satellites the Coast guard had 5 weather stations in the Atlantic and Pacific. The ships that manned them would “be on station” for 30 days at a time. Add to that the 7-8 days getting to and from and that was an average of 45 days gone at a time. Then the ship was in port for 15 days and back out to sea. During those 15 days in, Dad still had the duty every 3rd day. He missed a lot of family time. Many of us basically grew up without our Dads. Did we resent it. YOU BET. Do I now? NO!. The life we lived and the way we learned to make friends and be flexible made us better people. I am glad and honored that my father spent 20 years in. From a Seaman recruit to Chief Warrant Officer II, he served and I have a few stories.
    Thank you for this article. It meant a lot to me.
    Ralph O. Dennis – oldest son of Ralph Dennis, USCG Ret. CWOII (now deceased)

  28. Carolynn Riczkus Lane says:

    Well said. thank you from
    A coast guard mom

  29. Shelley Kimball says:

    You honor me by sharing your story, Mr. Dennis. I’m an Air Force brat myself, and I always will be. I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote, and I don’t think anyone could have said it better.

  30. Shelley Kimball says:

    I was working on some research last year, and someone looking at the data could not understand why Coasties don’t Skype more during deployments. I think the more we tell our stories, the better — thank you for sharing yours.

  31. Shelley Kimball says:

    Thank you so much — I completely agree that sharing your experiences is key. Coasties experience amazing things that become great learning lessons. And thank you for your service!

  32. Shelley Kimball says:

    I love it, too! It’s not always easy, but it is definitely rewarding. Thank you for your message!

  33. Lake View TA Tenants says:

    Just one thing I would like to mention and correct me if I am wrong. Before 9/11 the USCG was under the US Department Of Transportation, and during war time The USCG reported to the US Secretary of the Navy. They were totally different missions. I served 10 years total, 2 years active of which I served during the Gulf War (not on the front line). I was stationed at MSO 7th District, before that I was at Captain of the Port/Governors Island and then Activities NY. I started in port security and then lateral over to MST. It was a great learning experience for me and I think the USCG made me a better person. They are like my second family and I believe that the USCG is an important component to Homeland security beside educating the public in maritime rules and regulations. GO COASTIES!

    Semper Paratus…

  34. Shelley Kimball says:

    I agree — Among the Coasties I know, we all find ourselves trying to explaining the same things. Maybe this column will help!

  35. Joshua Reeve says:

    My apologies go out to everyone who has read this person’s negative slander. I know whomever actually wrote this does NOT have an ounce of integrity and is lacking in character! It is sad to know that there are people associated with our Coast Guard these days who consistently bad mouth the organization. I certainly do not appreciate that someone wrote this about my beloved service. I also do not appreciate that they used my name! I hope my fellow shipmates know that clearly this is not me, nor do I endorse any part of what this person is saying.

  36. Shelley Kimball says:

    And thank YOU for being a Coast Guard mom!

  37. Don says:

    You are most welcome. It truly was my honor to serve.

  38. Commandant says:

    Shelley: Great article!! Thanks for your continued advocacy for our Coast Guard men and women. Please give my best to Joe and all my Shipmates at Air Station Miami. – Admiral Papp

  39. Shelley Kimball says:

    Absolutely, sir! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It’s exciting to see such pride and enthusiasm for the Coast Guard community!

  40. MarkInCA says:

    Isn’t there a Coast Guard unit in Stockton, CA?

  41. Debbie Eells Walsh says:

    Thank you for writing this. I think I had this exact conversation at the bus stop in Northern Virginia with many other military moms just this morning!

  42. Christopher Lagan says:

    Mark,

    While there are Coast Guard units in the vicinity of Stockton, I am unaware of one in the actual city of Stockton. Are you looking to visit a local Coast Guard unit? If so, email us at and we’ll direct you to the appropriate point of contact. Perhaps you’re interested in meeting with a recruiter? If so, visit for more information.

    Respectfully,
    Christopher Lagan
    U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs

  43. Shelley Kimball says:

    I feel like so many of us have these conversations in common! 🙂

  44. Nick Hunt says:

    Stumbled onto this site checking on a family member in the CG. Guard has been
    somewhat of a family tradition from Marblehead Ohio lifeboat station to Air Station
    Miami. Radioman on Hu16’s 1967 to 1970. Am very proud of my service. Keep
    on keeping the public informed. Thank you and God Bless. Nick Hunt

  45. Ed Booth says:

    Ralph, thanks for writing your story. I, too, am a Coast Guard brat. Seventy years old, but still a Coast Guard Brat. My Dad, Hank Prentiss, spent from SEPT 1942, to JAN 1973 in the Coast Guard and did more than his share of Ocean Stations Bravo and Charlie, along with several tours on ice breakers, Alaskan and European tours, so I know what you mean about missing family events and concur with your feelings about it. I also hated always being the new kid in school, but I got over it and learned how to meet and get to know others. I’m proud to say that I created a couple more Coast Guard Brats during my own 33 years of the life which also included eight Ocean Station Victors and an Alaskan tour, as well as two Arctic and two Antarctic ice breaker trips. I also know and appreciate what kind of woman it takes to put up with us. Long live the Coast Guard Brats!

    Mrs. Kimball, I wish I had seen your original request for input. I thank you for what you have done here, and wish you smooth sailing through the remainder of your service in “The Hardest Job In The Military.” I look forward to more of your work.
    …EMCM W.E. Booth, USCG(ret)…

  46. Jason E. Cherry says:

    Thanks for serving USCG.
    Veteran of the both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.

  47. Rob Waltemate says:

    Before Iraq was invaded, the USCG was deployed up the river ahead of the landing force to watch for enemy ships etc… You might ask why? I think it was to secure the river without tipping our intentions to the Iraqis. At one point the cutter was looking at an enemy ship coming down the river armed with surface to surface missles, which the cutter had absolutely no defence against. Facing certain destruction they held their position. In the end, our air force either sank or disabled the enemy before the cutter became in range. Thought I would share this. This was told to me by the commander of the cutter.

  48. Rob Waltemate says:

    Remember that if DHS is not funded, then the Coast Guard has no money.

  49. Angie Drake says:

    We also know some Coasties are stationed overseas – at US Embassies around the world. That’s how this Air Force family has gotten to know more about the Coast Guard. Thanks for the excellent article! I am going to share it with the audience at #KeepYourPromise. If you would like to leave a comment over there, we would love it!

  50. Brenda says:

    To Shelly, Ralph and many others, I am very proud of my Coastie. He retired after 20 years in the CG in 1999. We moved 10 times in 20 years. Our kids flourished in the moves. They really missed Dad when he was away but we knew he had an important job. They have always been very proud of their Dad. The CG family is small but we are always here for each other. I remember when he was deployed to a Cutter out of Miami. We arrived at the boat and one of the guys said welcome to the divorce boat. I said what? They said no one has made it off married, well I am happy to tell you we not only made it off but I can happily say we have married for 32 years!

  51. russell conrad lewis says:

    As a former ATG (Afloat Training Group) Damage Controlman, I had the opportunity to train many Coast Guard ships. I loved every training mission with them. Aside from the great food, the smaller crew size allowed a little more familiarity which would probably freak out most people in the Navy if they saw it. I always kid my Coast Guard brothers and sister but I never forget they are my Military brother and sisters all the way.
    Oh and I rode once from Washington to San Diego (thanks DCA for giving up your stateroom) and no, not one single time did we go out of sight of the shore line and lights. 🙂

  52. Steven H says:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “they’re totally different missions”. The USCG started paying more attention to our homeland security missions after 9/11, but it certainly wasn’t new. We also haven’t transferred entirely to the Dept. of the Navy since WWII; although we participated in every conflict since then. Units that deploy to combat zones normally come under the operational control of a DoD command such as Centcom.

  53. Jon Graham says:

    #5 Would have been a nice place to point out that many of those deployed members were Coast Guard Reservist.

  54. Shelley Kimball says:

    I am working on a story about reservists, Jon. We’ve been remiss in sharing the story, but we’ll get it out there!

  55. Shelley Kimball says:

    Great story, Brenda! I am endlessly proud of the resilience of our (and my) Coastie families.

  56. Shelley Kimball says:

    Thanks for sharing it, Angie!

  57. Shelley Kimball says:

    Thanks for that, Jason. I’m and Army sister, and Air Force kid, and a Coastie spouse. We all have to stick together. 🙂

  58. Shelley Kimball says:

    Wow — great story. I know my Army brother ran into Coasties on many of his wartime deployments. He always said he wished more people understood what the CG does.

  59. Shelley Kimball says:

    Fantastic, Nick. Thanks for weighing in!

  60. Jorge Israel Rodriguez Delgado says:

    So those immigrants coming to the U.S. For a better life due to economic circumstances imposed by us, are automatically fit for welfare and prison systems? Just so you know illegal immigrants actually pay taxes without claiming returns. There is alot to that issue that you may not be aware of, instead of listening to biased views you should, as a respect to your heritage learn the facts

  61. Vince says:

    Former coastie, here. Great article, but the answer about the military side of things is not always yes. Coast Guard is primarily a federal law enforcement entity, that can, either part or fully, fall under the DoD as a part of the DoN in time of war. The reason for this distinction during all but war time is that the requirement to enforce federal maritime laws, federal treaties, etc require an agency that can board foreign vessels without it being considered an act of war – obviously, we don’t care as much if doing the job requires acts of war in a war environment.

    Actually, that brings up a fun fact about Navy ships and drug busts. Did you know that, every time the Navy reports a drug bust, said ship was flying a Coat Guard ensign (not Navy) for the duration of the event, reported itself as a Coast Guard cutter, had a Coast Guard LEDET (Law Enforcement Detachment) on board that was in charge of the ship, and was reporting to a Coast Guard District Commander for taking and directives?

  62. Zoe Soroko ⚓️❤️ says:

    Great article. I have been recently looking at what life as a part of the Coast Guard family will be like, as my long-term boyfriend is enlisting this December and I have no idea what to expect. But with lovely articles and a great network of sweet people, I expect that, while it will be challenging, it will also be incredibly rewarding.

  63. 13thGenPatriot says:

    What part of illegal do you fail to understand?

  64. Pam Connett says:

    Hi! I’m looking for some answers and not sure if this is the right place to ask. If it’s not, please excuse my intrusion and my ignorance. My Dad was in the Coast Guard during WWII. I know he served in the Phillipines at some point because I’ve seen pictures of him and others helping people during what looked like a flood or bombing. My Dad never really talked about his military service. I know he started out in the CG but ended up being discharged from the Navy after the war. He never talked about details but I do have some memories from childhood that are not very pleasant. On some occasions when Dad had surgery, he would be given pain pills to help him sleep. I remember him waking up in the middle of the night, screaming. All five of us kids would be petrified. Mom told us to go back to sleep and she would sit up with him all night. Once I heard him screaming for someone who went overboard and they couldn’t go back for him. Dad never spoke about these times. He never told ‘war stories’ and never talked about his ‘buddies’. As an adult, my heart breaks for what he must have gone through. For what you all must have gone through. Sorry this is so long, I’ll get to the point. I understand the CG was joined to the Navy in late 1941. I understand that my Dad had two Serial Numbers because of this. One of my brothers said they had read something years ago about a few hundred servicemen having two different numbers. I recently found a silver ID bracelet among my Dad’s belongings. It was three lines. The first said U. S. C. G., the second line was his name, and the third line had a 7-digit number with a dash (xxxx-xxx). Can anyone tell me any info on the second serial number, the bracelet (were they issued and was a serial number 7 digits), or any other info? My Dad has passed now. We would never invade his privacy, asking about an obviously painful time in his life. Now that he is no longer here to ask, the desire to know becomes stronger. For those of you that have read this to the end, thank you very much! I hope someone can shed some light…. 🙂 My email is

  65. LTJG Katie Braynard says:

    Pam,

    Thank you for sharing your dad’s story with us. You can send us an email at , and we can connect you with our Historian’s Office, which may be able to provide some insight.

    Hope this helps and have a great week!

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. j.g. Katie Braynard
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  66. simmss says:

    One of the best. Google it if you doubt the human computer.

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