From the Homefront: Following in a parent’s footsteps

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 13 years and currently serves as chapter director for Blue Star Families in Miami, Fla.

Mike Brimblecom and his father, Coast Guard aviator David Brimblecom in 1995. Photo courtesy of the Brimblecom family.

High school student Mike Brimblecom and his father, Coast Guard aviator David Brimblecom in 1995. Photo courtesy of the Brimblecom family.

Written by Shelley Kimball.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Photo by Bill Keefrey.

Being a military child is not always easy. And as parents, we can’t help but wonder how our kids will fare as adults having grown up in a military household. In honor of April being the Month of the Military Child, we introduce four Coastie kids who grew up and chose to follow in the footsteps of the Coast Guardsmen in their lives. All of them said childhood as a military kid shaped their futures and the career choices they made, whether or not the initially planned to join. And all of them  appreciate what life as Coast Guard kids brought them.

Mike and David Brimblecom

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Brimblecom thought everyone’s childhood was like a military kid’s.

“I thought, growing up, that everyone moved around every four years,” said Mike. “I thought everyone’s dad wore fancy uniforms with swords. Then I found out it was something more special than that.”

Capt. David Brimblecom and Lt. Mike Brimblecom in 2008. Photo courtesy of the Brimblecom family.

Capt. David Brimblecom and Lt. Mike Brimblecom in 2008. Photo courtesy of the Brimblecom family.

Mike currently serves as the standardization and system operations officer at Air Station Savannah. His dad, retired Capt. David Brimblecom, was an HH-65 pilot who went on to become executive officer of Air Station Savannah, and eventually the commanding officer of both Air Station New Orleans and Air Station Cape Cod. David retired after 31 years of service.

Mike didn’t automatically assume he would also become a Coast Guard aviator.

“[My father] never pushed or pressured me into the Coast Guard,” he said. “I grew up loving flying and aviation because of him.”

There were pros and cons to Coastie kid life, Mike said. The pros – being able to go into the flight simulator at Aviation Training Center Mobile. (Again, he thought that was something all kids got to do with their dads). The cons? Late night operations calls to the house.

In the days of phones that plugged into the wall with cords, Mike said he and his friends were excited to finally get phones in their rooms. It was short-lived, though. The OPS calls were too much.

“I was the only one taking my phone out of my room because I couldn’t stand the calls at 2 a.m.”

His love for aviation led Mike to a degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech. But when he completed it, he realized he did not love the kind of aviation that takes place behind a desk. So he decided to join the Coast Guard by way of Officer Candidate School, making him the third generation of his family to do so. His mother’s father had enlisted in the Navy, and then went to Coast Guard OCS and on to a career in marine safety. Mike said his own decision to join the Coast Guard seemed a natural progression.

“When I told them I was bringing a package to OCS, I think both of my parents were happy and proud,” he said.

Even now, Mike still works with people who knew his dad. He doesn’t tire of hearing stories about David because it gives Mike a glimpse into his dad’s professional life.

“To hear the stories about working with him. It’s cool to hear that side of him. I guess I’m very fortunate because my dad was a very well-liked individual. Everybody could have hated him,” Mike said laughing.

Growing up, he thought Coast Guard life as all about flying helicopters and playing golf with friends on the weekends, Mike said. His views as a Coastie kid weren’t that far off.

“It’s still flying helicopters and golf, but it’s all that administration that goes with it,” he said. “It’s everything I thought it would be and more.”

Tyler and Brian Hudson

Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler Hudson with his family, his wife Megan, and sons Nathan,5, and Carson, 2. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Cass Tyler Hudson.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler Hudson with his family, his wife Megan, and sons Nathan,5, and Carson, 2. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Cass Tyler Hudson.

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler Hudson spent much of his childhood in Mobile, Ala. While his dad, retired Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hudson, flew HH-65s out of ATC Mobile.

“I thought it was cool growing up and telling kids that your dad was flying that orange helicopter around,” Tyler said.

He didn’t automatically decide to joint the Coast Guard. He was in college and “wasn’t really enjoying it,” when he started to consider other options. Right around that time, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and he watched as his father and his colleagues responded. When the pilots, including Tyler’s father, received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their valor in rescuing hurricane survivors, that clinched it.

“That’s when it really hit and got the ball rolling,” Tyler said.

Although it was pride in his dad’s service that got him to join, he said the feeling is mutual. His brother Zack is currently serving in the U.S. Army, and their dad takes pride in their career choices.

“I think, he thinks it’s really cool that we’re both in the military and serving our country,” Tyler said.

Each day of service in the Coast Guard is what he expected it would be after watching his dad’s career.

“It’s definitely as fun as I thought it would be. I still enjoy getting up and going to work every day,” Tyler said. “My favorite part is being out on the water every single day. I can’t get enough of it.”

Jacob and Tom Boross

Ensign Jacob Boross has taken a different career path than his Coast Guard aviator father, Capt. Tom Boross, but Jacob is enjoying his unique experience.

“It’s interesting because my dad’s been an aviator his whole career, said Jacob, a deck watch officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Forward. “It’s not quite what I thought because I’m coming into this now at an afloat unit. I’m going to sea. I’m getting deployed on a ship. It’s not what my dad experienced.”

However, he said, his dad’s senior officer perspective is still an important part of his daily life.

Ensign Jacob Boross, operations officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home-ported in Portsmouth, Va., uses the sextant to plot his cutter's track line Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The sextant is used is to determine the angle between a celestial object and the horizon which is known as the object's altitude, and the data gathered can be used to calculate a position line on a nautical chart. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse.

Ensign Jacob Boross, operations officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Forward, uses the sextant to plot his cutter’s track line. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse.

“My very short career path up to this point has been very different from what my dad has done. But we talk shop all the time, and it is cool to get his advice and perspective,” Jacob said. “That definitely helps me. I look back at what he tells me when I do what I do on a daily basis.”

As a Coastie kid, Jacob has great memories of visiting the hangars and the holiday parties at Air Station Miami. His family has photos of him climbing in and out of the aircraft as a baby at Air Station Cape Cod.

The challenges of growing up as a Coast Guard kid, such as moving and attending a lot of schools, have become positives in his adult life, he said.

“It is hard moving around a lot and leaving friends behind. Just moving as a kid, those are significant life events. I look at it now as a positive,” Jacob said. “I got to go to two different high schools, which at the time was challenging, but looking back on it now, it gave me the chance to meet all different kinds of people and to be exposed to all different kinds of places. Looking back on it, I really think it was a blessing.”

When he was a senior in high school, and his dad was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters, his dad took him to visit the U.S. Naval Academy. It was that visit that sparked his interest in attending the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. That visit with his dad, watching the cadets and seeing the life he could have at the academy, and he was hooked.

“To be honest, I never really thought about it before then,” Jacob said. “He never pushed me or forced me into the Coast Guard, but when he exposed me to the academy lifestyle, I was drawn to it.”

Life at the Coast Guard Academy gave Jacob much more insight into the career his dad had.

“It definitely gave me much more of an understanding and appreciation for what my dad did,” Boross said. “Once I got to the academy, I gained much more of an understanding for how hard he worked – for how hard every Coast Guardsman works.”

During that time, Tom participated in the academy’s Aviation Day three years in a row by flying in the event and speaking to the Corps of Cadets as part of the aviation panel.

“Watching my father fly at the academy’s Aviation Day was a special experience that I will never forget,” Jacob said. “Experiences like that helped me stay motivated and focused on the end goal of graduating from the academy.”

Now, Jacob is looking forward to what his own career as a Coast Guardsman will bring, and whether that will eventually include aviation. He said he loves Coast Guard life, and he has a great appreciation for military service.

“I grew up around military all my life. It plays a big role in my life. When I found out only one-percent of the American population serves, that shocked me. Growing up, I just thought a lot of people served,” Jacob said. “Once you do it yourself, and you understand the sacrifice, it definitely changes your perspective on the military.”

Lauren and Dan Gainor

Lt. j.g. Lauren Gainor after her dad, Cmdr. Dan Gainor, pinned her with his Marine Safety Insignia at his retirement ceremony. Photo courtes of Lt. j.g. Lauren Gainor.

Lt. j.g. Lauren Gainor after her dad, Cmdr. Dan Gainor, pinned her with his Marine Safety Insignia at his retirement ceremony. Photo courtes of Lt. j.g. Lauren Gainor.

For Lt. j.g. Lauren Gainor, joining the Coast Guard gave her a better understanding of what her dad, retired Cmdr. Dan Gainor, was doing at work and in trainings all those years. Now she does marine inspections, just like her dad, who retired in March after 34 years of service.

“I didn’t really know how much work he put into it,” she said. “It has made everything make sense.”

But throughout those years she spent as a Coast Guard kid, and now as a member of the Coast Guard herself, Lauren shares her dad’s enthusiasm for a long career in the service.

“I have a true connection to it,” she said. “This is my life. This is what I was meant to do. This is what my family is meant to do.”

Lauren said the continuous moves weren’t too hard on her growing up because her parents kept her active. But she said she always had one thing that brought her continuity – other Coasties.

“The coolest thing was the Coast Guard family,” she said. “It really became our family. We’re still in touch with everyone. It’s a nice feeling. It’s like having a second family.”

As she recounts the points that led her to choose the Coast Guard as a career, the constant was the support she found in other Coasties. When she was in the fifth grade, she was able to go to a “Take Your Child to Work Day” presentation that included a mock oil spill to clean up, container inspections and fixing aids to navigation. (“I’ll never forget it. It was awesome,” she said.) In high school ROTC, she got advice from other Coast Guardsmen on how to tailor her classes to aim for a service academy. When she was in college interviewing for service academies, her dad and his coworkers helped prepare her by setting up mock interviews for her.

“Just having his guidance there was just the best. It’s still there. I talk to my dad every day,” she said. “It makes me want to make it a career after seeing what he did for 34 years. Just as proud as my dad is of me, I am of him.”

When she was accepted to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, she became president of the Coast Guard Club. She continues to visit the academy to speak to the senior classes about Coast Guard options because she wants to share her positive experiences.

“I hope it makes other people as happy as it makes me,” she said, “It’s truly the best job in the world.”

Tell us about your own Coastie kids! Were you a military kid yourself? How are you celebrating the Month of the Military Child? Share your stories 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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