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They Had to Go Out

They Had to Go Out

By They Had to Go Out
Get ready to whiten those knuckles and hold fast as we get underway to talk with Coast Guard veterans about the most daring, dangerous, and epic sea stories ever told. Whether facing ruthless men who prey on other mariners or storms that turn calm seas into graveyards, those who go down to the sea and cast off lines enter the most challenging and dangerous environment on earth. Only here will you hear their stories and the lessons gained through their experience.
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Currently playing episode

Episode 19: John Kopp - USCG - BM1 - Surfman

They Had to Go Out

Episode 90 - Sandra Stosz - Vice Admiral (Ret.) - Icebreaking - Cutter CO
Vice Admiral Sandra Stosz (Ret.) talks twelve years at sea aboard six different cutters ranging from red to white to black hulls, icebreaking as a newly minted ensign, command of a cutter defending the approaches to New York after 9/11, running high seas search and rescue aboard polar icebreakers, leading the service’s recruit training center and its academy, serving at the highest levels of leadership as the aid to the Secretary of Transportation, and her new book “Breaking Ice and Breaking Glass: Leading in Uncharted Waters”. Learn more at #uscg #coastguard #icebreaking #admiral #military #seaservice #veteran
November 23, 2021
Episode 89 - John Marks - Captain (Ret.) - Chief Yeoman
For this episode we welcome our first ever Yeoman to the show and he does not disappoint. CAPT John Marks (Ret.) talks adventures in the South Pacific including visits to the leper colony on Molokai and a murder at a remote LORAN station, running a Miss Ocean Station contest with flight stewardesses from the middle of the North Atlantic, how the concept of “member’s responsibility” developed along with the Yeoman correspondence course, the punches and sponges of the first ever Servicewide Exam, becoming a Chief Petty Officer, Officer Candidate School, surviving the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, developing NORTHCOM, and rising from an E2 to an O6 to lead the post 9/11 port security grant program. You don’t want to miss this one. #uscg #coastguard #military #veteran #veterans #armedforces
November 15, 2021
Episode 88 - Lee Fanning - LCDR - Flight Surgeon - Sikorsky HH52A
Former LCDR Lee Fanning talks service as a Flight Surgeon at Air Station San Francisco, responding on his first day of duty to the crash landing of a 747 with 300 souls aboard, dodging pine trees and traversing coastal cliffs to save the life of an injured hiker, a violent air hijacking, and flying missions as aircrew aboard the Sikorsky HH52A. To hear more check out Doc Fanning’s book “Rescues from the Sky” available now at #uscg #coastguard #theyhadtogoout
October 20, 2021
Episode 87 - Jeff Rusiecki - BMC (Ret.) - Surfman - FV Sea King - National Motor Lifeboat School
Chief Boatswains Mate Jeff Rusiecki (Ret.) talks being at the helm for the attempted rescue of the fishing vessel Sea King as she foundered on the Columbia River Bar, how that case connected him to the survivor of a similar tragedy from the 1960s involving the loss of three motor lifeboats and several crewmen; servicing aids to navigation along the remote Alaskan coastline, seizing the first go fast under the Zero Tolerance policy, and training a new generation of surfmen at the National Motor Lifeboat School.
September 28, 2021
Episode 86: Jim Morphew - MK - Patrol Boat Cutterman - War on Drugs - Mariel Boatlift - PTSD
Former MK Jim Morphew talks a near decade of service on the Gulf Coast, two tours at one of the service’s least requested duty stations in Grand Isle, Louisiana; interdicting tons of marijuana in the opening days of the War on Drugs; the sights, sounds, and emotions of the mass migration from Cuba known as the Mariel Boatlift; cruising aboard a prototype Surface Effect Ship (SES); and overcoming post traumatic stress with the help of Veterans Affairs.
November 20, 2020
Episode 85: William ‘Dean’ Lee - Vice Admiral (Ret.) - Commanding Officer - LANTAREA - Boat Forces
Vice Admiral William “Dean” Lee (Ret.) talks the most impactful case of his 36 year career - the courageous effort to save a life from inside a capsized fishing vessel hull, the most important lesson learned from seven tours as a commanding officer, group versus sector organization, servant leadership, and the importance of humility.
November 02, 2020
Episode 84: Steve Love - Commander (Ret) - CO - Mustang - ET - Cutter Swimmer - Boat Forces
Commander Steve Love (Ret) talks 34 years of active service, his first patrol out of basic training aboard CGC Cherokee, white knuckling the helm and being lashed to the mast during the search for a distressed sailboat in a hurricane force storm, deploying as a cutter swimmer to rescue the crew of a downed Navy mine sweeping helicopter, searching for stowaways in Panama City, the origins of fatigue limits, his first command at Station Cape May and the tough personnel and operational decisions he was called on to make, how the Response Boat - Small II came to be a part of the fleet, and commanding a Maritime Force Protection Unit whose mission is to protect the nation’s nuclear submarine fleet.
October 28, 2020
Episode 83: Erin Stapleton - BOSN - CGC Eagle Sailmaster - Diver - Officer in Charge
BOSN Erin Stapleton (Ret) talks service as the Sailmaster aboard the Tall Ship Eagle during a crossing of the Atlantic, recovering a man overboard under sail, training and mentoring Academy cadets underway, qualifying as a diver in the early days of the service’s program, diving on piers and ships in support of the port security and drug interdiction missions of Maritime Safety and Security Teams, a close call during a cruise ship hull inspection, investigating sea mine blast sites, attending the US Air Force Non Commissioned Officers Academy, his experiences with good and bad command climates as the Executive Petty Officer of a patrol boat and station, and taking command of Station Maui where he applied the lessons learned throughout his career to lead heavy weather and tactical boat crews and create agency partnerships that saved lives.
October 10, 2020
Episode 82: Kurt Strauch - BOSN - Marine Firefighting - Antarctic Ops - Officer in Charge
Boatswain Kurt Strauch (Ret.) talks Coast Guard firefighting, including the rescue of a commercial fishing crew aboard an 80 foot scalloper on fire off Montauk, New York, the massive effort to save a 180 foot freighter on fire in the Florida Straits, saving the Cutter Gallatin after a fire broke out in dry dock, and extinguishing flames aboard the Polar Star during a voyage to the Antarctic. He also tells of operations at McMurdo Station, serving as an arctic pilot during the tow of a disabled 400 foot cargo ship from the Southern Ocean to New Zealand, migrant interdictions in the South Pacific, and commanding an IMARV on the Potomac in the aftermath of 9/11, a station, and an 87 foot cutter as an enlisted Boatswain’s Mate and Officer in Charge.
October 03, 2020
Episode 81: Zach Snavely - ME2 - MSRT - BM - Coxswain - Deck Force - Defense Contractor
Former ME2 Zach Snavely talks surviving recruit training with Phil after both enlisted in West Virginia, striking Boatswain’s Mate, service as a coxswain on the northern border at Station Niagara, how the loss of a boat crew created a lasting culture of ownership, a faint cry for help that led to a lifesaving case, running Deck Force aboard Cutter Bear, major swells during a crossing of the Atlantic, switching rates to Maritime Enforcement Specialist, and counter terrorism with the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) as a shooter, breacher, comms officer, and medic. He also talks his transition to the State Department and current work with the Arcuri Group. Learn more about Zach and sign up for his webinar series at - Learn about his new 14K foot peak initiative at
September 24, 2020
Episode 80: Claude Morrissey - Chief Aviation Survival Technician (Ret.) - Helicopter Rescue Swimmer
Part I. Retired Chief Aviation Survival Technician (ASTC) Claude Morrissey talks his first case as a rescue swimmer, saving fishermen washed from a jetty during Hurricane Claudette, refining his greeting to survivors, flying hundreds of miles into the Atlantic to rescue the crew of a demasted luxury catamaran, earning a rescue swimmer T-shirt, life and death in the Bering Sea, rituals prior to leaving the runway, 60s vs 65s, and starting his own business - Morrissey Stump Grinding and Tree Service in Camden, North Carolina.
September 16, 2020
Episode 79: Chris Campbell - Quartermaster 2nd Class - CGC Sedge - CGC Thetis - ATON - Migrants
Former Quartermaster Chris Campbell talks being recalled to the CGC Sedge in the midst of a violent winter storm in an effort to save the crew of a foundering fishing vessel off the Alaskan coast, the effort to clear ice and keep the cutter afloat, an inspiring speech from his CO explaining why Coast Guard crews have to go out, ATON, mailing beards to Washington after facial hair was outlawed by the uniform regs, lasting leadership lessons from a BM3 in charge of Deck Force, simulated liberty, patrolling the Florida Keys aboard CGC Thetis, QM ‘A’ School and pre-GPS navigation, and quelling a near riot of migrants detained on deck.
September 03, 2020
Episode 78: Steve Denning - BMC (Ret) - Station OIC - Motor Lifeboats - PACTACLET - Black Hulls
Chief Boatswains Mate Steve Denning (Ret.) talks the nighttime race to rescue nineteen people, fourteen of them children, from a capsized boat at the entrance to the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the struggle to conduct a search beneath an overturned hull, commanding a Coast Guard station as its Officer in Charge, rescuing and repatriating dozens of Haitian migrants after weeks at sea, breaking in coxswain at Station Barnegat Light and signing his letter as the crew runs to the sound of a SAR alarm, lessons in boat handling and seamanship from a Surfman mentor at Tillamook Bay, balancing risk to a boat crews with the demands of missions at sea, stopping a boat in a high speed and uncontrolled spin in one of his first cases, crewing black hulls and working CG-6P lanterns, deploying for counter drug patrols on more than forty naval ships with PACTACLET, managing the demands of family with those of military service, applying officer discretion during a boarding that didn’t feel right, meeting Davey Jones and Neptune’s court at the equator, and intercepting arms, munitions, and suspected mercenaries aboard a boat bound for South America.
August 24, 2020
Episode 77: Alex Mangum - AMT - Flight Mechanic - HH60 - E City - Kodiak - Life After Service
Former AMT and HH60 Flight Mechanic Alex Mangum talks a massive effort to save three commercial fishermen after their boat grounded in a remote Alaskan Bay during the worst storm many at the airstation had ever experienced, his first case as a flight mechanic and its textbook MEDEVAC from the deck of a cruise ship, training to perform helicopter hoists in the severe weather, how operational crews deal with incidents that truly shake them, staring in the inaugural episode of Coast Guard Alaska, and how the benefits gained through service helped him to achieve his post Coast Guard career goals.
August 11, 2020
Episode 76: Rick Kuntz - Engineman - Galloo Island - Station Oswego - CG AUX
Former Engineman Rick Kunz talks life and service on Lake Ontario’s Galloo Island where the Coast Guard maintained both a station and a lighthouse, four decades of uniform, grooming, and protective equipment advances at Station Oswego, ranking the coasts on a scale of painful seas, picking the right boat for the right weather, taking a 30 footer with him as he left the service, and how the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers boat owners, pilots, and other volunteers a chance to make a difference.
August 03, 2020
Episode 75: MEC ‘ Thunder’ Dan Merrick (Ret.) - MSST - PATFORSWA - RAID - MTB - TACLET
Retired Maritime Enforcement Specialist ‘Thunder’ Dan Merrick talks standing up Maritme Safety and Security Teams (MSST) in the aftermath of 9/11, securing the Persian Gulf aboard CGC Monomoy, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment (RAID), and training the navies and coastguards of the world with the Mobile Training Branch.
July 27, 2020
Episode 74: Mike Kreynus - Senior Chief Radioman (Ret) - Cutterman - Intelligence Agent - CPOA
Senior Chief Radioman Mike Kreynus (Ret.) talks a lasting lesson in leadership and open door policy from the CO of the CGC Comanche, his time as a plain clothes Coast Guard Intelligence agent, being Chief of the Boat for the last of the screaming sea captains aboard CGC Boutwell, running a west coast command center, the founding of the Chief Petty Officer’s Association, and his thoughts on the practices of the greatest leaders.
July 18, 2020
Episode 73: James Loy - 21st COMDT - Cutterman - Vietnam War - 9/11 - Leadership - Author
21st Commandant of the Coast Guard and former Acting Secretary of the Department is Homeland Security James Loy talks a lesson in leadership early in his career during a dangerous maneuver in heavy seas, commanding patrol boats on the Virginia coast and in wartime Vietnam, delivering a baby on the flight deck of an underway cutter, ending the pursuit of a drug trafficker with a well aimed fire hose, leading the service on 9/11, how flags and Commandants make decisions with servicewide and national impacts, and his experiences leading at the highest levels of government. After you listen, read Admiral Loy’s books, “Character in Action: The US Coast Guard on Leadership” and “The Architecture of Leadership: Preparation Equals Performance”
July 09, 2020
Episode 72: Gary Thomas - CDR (Ret.) - Cutterman - Patrol Boat CO - LORANimal - AFRAS - NCGMA
CDR Gary Thomas (Ret.) talks deploying into heavy seas as a cutter swimmer to rescue a man overboard, commanding a Key West patrol boat during the tragic sinking of a Haitian ferry, working to support LORANimals, and how these events illustrate the servicewide impacts individuals can have in the Coast Guard. He also discusses his work with the National Coast Guard Museum Association and the Association for Rescue at Sea, both partners of They Had to Go Out Podcast.
July 01, 2020
Episode 71: Martha Kotite - Captain (Ret.) - 110 XO - Public Affairs - Author
Captain Martha Kotite (Ret.) talks the attempted takeover of a cutter by a group of migrants detained on board, serving as the XO of a Key West patrol boat, flying in style aboard the Commandant’s Gulfstream, and high level public affairs efforts during a series of defining events for the service. Learn more about Martha, book her for a speaking event, and read “So Others May Live”, “Changing the Rules of Engagement”, and “My Name is Old Glory” at
June 23, 2020
Episode 70: Gina Panuzzi - AET2 (Ret) - Aircrew - HH60 Crash Survivor
Retired Aviation Electronics Technician (AET) Gina Panuzzi talks a decade of service in Coast Guard aviation, the crash of CG-6028 in the Utah mountains that nearly claimed her life, and her road to recovery in the aftermath.
June 18, 2020
Todd Ebner - AET2 - Aircrew - C130 - HH60
Former AET2 Todd Ebner talks his decade of service in Coast Guard aviation, locating 17 survivors of a fishing trip gone wrong off the Alaskan coast, transporting a dead whale in the cargo hold of a C-130, tracking Russian and Chinese poachers, taking down a corrupt government official in American Samoa, rights of passage at ‘A’ School in E City, and coping with the loss of so many who have died in the line of duty.
June 08, 2020
Distant Shores Launch Special - Francois Michaud - Royal Canadian Marine SAR - Chief Instructor
Francois Michaud, the Chief Instructor for Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue (RCM SAR), talks his decade of service onboard the ships and lifeboats of the Canadian Coast Guard, a long and harrowing day of MEDEVACs from a fishing fleet caught in a storm, training coxswains to lead boat crews on emergency calls, and the most important lessons he works to pass on to volunteer lifesavers.
June 03, 2020
Episode 68: Tina Claflin - MKCS (Ret.) - Surf Ops - CGC Eagle - Strike Team - SAPR - CPO Centennial
Senior Chief Machinery Technician Tina Claflin (Ret.) talks towing a sailboat through high surf, sailing aboard the tall ship Eagle, Strike Team CBR call outs for everything from a tire fire in Ohio to a burning train in a submerged tunnel, and the Centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers. Her company @halcyonreflections is producing a commemorative CPO Logbook now available for preorder at .
May 28, 2020
Special: Coast Guard Recruit Training Alumni
Service academies and colleges nationwide have active and powerful alumni associations, but those who enlist and substitute boot camp for higher education lack any similar organization they can leverage for their own social and professional network, or to give back to better the institution that positively impacted their lives. With tens of thousands of potential members who have completed boot camp, the Coast Guard Recruit Training Alumni is looking to change this. In this special episode we trade boot camp stories and talk the stand-up of the Alumni with veteran enlisted leaders, including 10th MCPOCG Skip Bowen, President of the CPOA Jon Ostrowski, TRACEN Cape May Command Master Chief David Pace, and the Alumni’s public affairs lead Richard Brahm. Learn more and join the Alumni today at
May 24, 2020
Episode 67: Jim Rambus - BMCS (Ret.) - Coxswain - OIC - Lighthouse Keeper - Lightship Sailor
As we continue to celebrate the centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers we talk with Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jim Rambus (Ret.) who tells of the dangers of logistic runs to the shoals and reefs of the Great Lakes where manned lighthouses once stood, including a lesson in confidence for a new coxswain after swamping a 40 footer during a personnel transfer and the near loss of a crew when their boat’s engines died in icy waters, the dangers of lightship duty during hurricanes and heavy fog, commanding three boat stations as an enlisted Officer in Charge, a fatal snap back after the service’s boats first transitioned from manila to nylon towlines, the service’s move from Treasury to Transportation, and what it means to be a Chief Petty Officer.
May 21, 2020
Episode 66: Adam Cravey - HSC (Ret.) - Coast Guard Medal - Boat Swimmer - Corpsman
Chief Health Services Technician Adam Cravey (Ret.) talks a Coast Guard Medal case that demanded he deploy into a raging sea as a boat swimmer in an effort to save the crew of a burning tug and barge, serving as an independent duty corpsman aboard a Coast Guard cutter, treating the most common complaints of patients visiting an underway sick bay, and coordinating the medical evacuations of severely sick and injured crew members at sea.
May 14, 2020
Episode 65: Jon Ostrowski- BMCS (Ret.) - PSU - Chief Petty Officers Association President
Retired Senior Chief Boatswains Mate Jon Ostrowski talks deploying for Operation Iraqi Freedom with a Reserve Port Security Unit, the centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers, the unique role of Chiefs in the service, leading the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA) at the national level, the volunteer work of the CPOA’s local chapters during recent crises including the federal government shutdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, and his dramatic introduction to Coast Guard operations aboard his first cutter.
May 02, 2020
Episode 64: Peter Eident - LT - USCGC Cuyahoga Survivor - Author of ‘Bearing Drift’ - Part II
Part II. Former Lieutenant Peter Eident talks surviving the capsizing and sinking of the USCGC Cuyahoga during a nighttime training cruise on the Chesapeake Bay and the legal and emotional aftermath stemming from the loss of eleven of her crew. Learn more in Peter’s book “Bearing Drift”, available now at
April 30, 2020
Episode 63: Peter Eident - LT - USCGC Cuyahoga Survivor - Author of ‘Bearing Drift’ - Part I
Part I of II. Former Lieutenant Peter Eident talks surviving the capsizing and sinking of the USCGC Cuyahoga during a nighttime training cruise on the Chesapeake Bay and the legal and emotional aftermath stemming from the loss of eleven of her crew. Learn more in Peter’s book “Bearing Drift”, available now at
April 20, 2020
Episode 62: Dara O’Malley - BM1 - Surfman 111 - 36 MLB - 44 MLB
BM1 Dara O’Malley, Surfman 111, tells of a dangerous nighttime escort across the Humbolt Bar, the capsizing and breakup of the involved cabin cruiser, and the efforts to rescue survivors from the surf that followed. He also talks what it takes to maintain boats and train crews to the levels needed for Coast Guard operations, and the responsibility of coxswains and surfmen not only to go out, but to bring their crews and those in peril back to shore.
April 11, 2020
Episode 61: Angel Hughes - LT - Pilot - Aircraft Commander - HC-144 Casa Ocean Sentry
LT Angel Hughes talks leading an aircrew on a challenging nighttime search for a distressed vessel and the aerial delivery of supplies to aid the rescue effort, flying in hurricane conditions, earning her wings on the HC-144 Casa Ocean Sentry, and performing the many missions of the Coast Guard from these fixed wing aircraft. She also tells of founding ‘Sisters of the Skies’, a non-profit whose mission is to mentor and aid children in pursuit of aviation careers. Learn more at
April 05, 2020
Crossover Special with ‘The Evolution Podcast” - Jeff Bayless - USN - Chief Boatswains Mate
Crossover episode with Jeff Bayless, a Chief Boatswains Mate in the US Navy and host of ‘The Evolution Podcast’, who talks his journey to resiliency and how he’s working to share his story and the lessons learned to the benefit of the fleet and beyond. Listen to other stories of resiliency on the ‘The Evolution’ now on your favorite podcast platform.
March 30, 2020
Crossover Special with Don’t Give Up the Ship Podcast
A crossover episode to help pass the time in quarantine with the host of Don’t Give Up the Ship Podcast. Unique episodes released on both shows have the hosts talking enlisted leadership, advancement panels, and the differences and similarities between the greatest sea service the world has ever know... and the U.S. Navy! Listen to crossover episodes on both @dgutspodcast and @theyhadtogoout - available now on your favorite podcast platform and at and
March 29, 2020
Episode 60: Darin Bibeau - BM2 - Coxswain - TACLET - Author
Former Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Darin Bibeau talks leading a cutter boat in the response to an offshore plane crash, running boats at station vacation in Burlington, Vermont, jumping the gunwales of go fasts to seize tons of narcotics with TACLET South, and how lessons from his service have influenced his business success. Darin also reveals details about his new book, “Back to Bulletproof: A Warriors Tactical Guide to Success” available now for pre-order on Amazon. Learn more about Darin at
March 25, 2020
Episode 59: Cari Thomas - RADM (Ret.) - CEO of Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)
Rear Admiral Cari Thomas (Ret.) talks taking her first command as the CO of a 110 ft patrol boat, responding to a mass migration in the Florida Straits, leading recruit training at Cape May, commanding the 14th District, and her work as CEO of Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA). Learn more and donate to CGMA now at
March 18, 2020
Episode 58: Thad Allen - 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard (Ret.)
23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard Thad Allen (Ret.) talks being trapped by fire in the radio room of his first cutter, responding to his first mass casualty event when a plane went down in the Florida Everglades, a surf rescue in blizzard conditions off the New Jersey coast, playing a leading role in the national response to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and the leadership lessons he considers most important for those who now serve.
March 06, 2020
Episode 57: Mike Underwood - BM1 (Ret.) - Coast Guard Medal - Coxswain - XPO
Retired Boatswain’s Mate First Class Mike Underwood talks leading a boat crew into 30 foot seas, 80 knot winds, and dense fog to rescue those aboard a burning tug and barge in a case that earned him the Coast Guard Medal, running jet drive lifeboats across the Chatham bar, and the leadership lessons gained from his time as command cadre.
February 26, 2020
Episode 56: MCPOCG Charles ‘Skip’ Bowen (Ret.) - BM - Officer in Charge - Command Chief
10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Charles ‘Skip’ Bowen talks the capsize of a marijuana laden sailboat while under tow, the failure of his small boat’s engine during a rescue attempt in a fierce storm, saving the crew of his cutter’s small boat following a failed attempt to board a suspect vessel, and lessons learned from his time in command. He also talks his new book ‘Breaching the Summit: Inspiring Leadership Lessons from Six Military Journeys to the Top”, available now from
February 19, 2020
Episode 55: Albert ‘Bud’ Buechler - CAPT (Ret.) - Commanding Officer - 378 WHEC
Captain Albert ‘Bud’ Buechler talks the heroic response of his cutter crew to the capsizing of an overloaded Haitian sailing freighter, the unique relationships between Chief Petty Officers, the deckplate and the wardroom, taking command of his first cutter, and the lessons learned while in commanding crews at sea.
February 12, 2020
Episode 54: Kevin Grant - BM1 - WHEC - Coxswain - Active to Reserve
Boatswain’s Mate Kevin Grant tells of his first assignment aboard a 378 High Endurance Cutter, responding to a devastating earthquake on Haiti and the potential mass migration in its aftermath, being recalled from a port call to interdict a drug sub in the Pacific, leading crews as a boat coxswain to rescue the crew of a foundering sailboat, and leading boarding teams over the gunwale to enforce laws at sea. He closes by sharing his own lessons learned on making the transition from active duty, from creating a financial safety net and finding a new career to paying for college and medical expenses.
February 03, 2020
Episode 53: Russell Burress - BMC (Ret.) - 44 MLB - Coxswain - SAR - Risk vs Gain
Retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Russell Burress tells making the decision to risk a boat in an attempt to save a life, serving on deck under the leadership of service legend BMCM Donald Horsley, setting a buoy to reopen a strategic port in the midst of a typhoon, towing a downed Coast Guard helicopter, and a tough decision during a mass rescue in the aftermath of a sudden thunderstorm.
January 27, 2020
Episode 52: John Gagnon - BMCM (Ret.) - Surfman - Officer in Charge
Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate John Gagnon (Ret.) talks the search for a fisherman who fell overboard in monstrous surf off the Oregon coast, how towing and searching are performed in the surf by motor lifeboat crews, and the most impactful lessons learned from his years in command of Coast Guard stations.
January 21, 2020
Holiday Special with MCPOCG Vince Patton (Ret.)
Holiday Special: 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Patton (Ret.) shares a holiday message, talks the short lived music career of the E-10s on the USO’s Overseas Holiday Tour, and encourages all who can to help get the National Coast Guard Museum built with a donation during their Matching Gift Challenge. Visit to become a plank owner today!
December 23, 2019
Episode 51: Steven Craig - USCGR - Captain (Ret.) - Author of All Present and Accounted For
Captain Steven Craig (Ret.) talks the dangers of walking a cutter’s deck in storm tossed seas, rising in the ranks from Seaman to mustang Captain, and being activated thirteen times as a reservist in response to major events and disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, and the 7.0 earthquake centered on Haiti. He also talks the dramatic story behind his new book “All Present and Accounted For”, which tells how the USCGC Jarvis grounded then nearly sank in a storm off the Alaskan coast in 1972.
December 18, 2019
Episode 50: Dan Shirey - BM - Surfman - 44 MLB - Chetco River - CGC Modoc - Diver
Former Boatswain’s Mate Dan Shirey talks pitchpoling a 44 ft Motor Lifeboat on the Chetco River bar, responding to a sinking fishing vessel despite knowing he lacked enough fuel to make it back to shore, escorting a listing cargo ship hundreds of miles to reach a safe port, qualifying as a diver, using the skills gained through his service to pursue underwater treasure hunting, and diving on the wrecks of the same whaling ships that were the cause of the 1897 Overland Relief Expedition where some of the earliest Coast Guard heroes earned their fame.
December 12, 2019
Episode 49: Mark Holmes - Radioman - 210 WMEC Crew - Author
Former Radioman Mark Holmes talks heading out and into a storm so severe it forced the Navy into port, responding to a foundering sailing vessel with a skeleton crew aboard CGC Courageous, procuring a replacement deck gun for a cutter from the front lawn of a VFW, surviving waterspouts and tornadoes, and how his experiences in the service caused him to begin writing.
December 05, 2019
Episode 48: Gerry Rohrer - BM1 (Ret.) - Coxswain - Ice Rescuer - PATFORSWA - Instructor
Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Gerry Rohrer (Ret.) talks the lifesaving efforts to retrieve and MEDEVAC an elderly couple from a sailboat breaking apart on the rocks of a Michigan jetty, responding to hard water emergencies with an ice rescue team, deploying overseas to train Middle Eastern maritime forces with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), and finishing off his career as an advisor to the Kiwis.
November 25, 2019
Episode 47: Doug Johnson - Boatswains Mate - Coxswain - LORAN Station - Pacific Islands
Former Boatswain’s Mate Doug Johnson provides a travelogue of exotic locations he served at throughout the Pacific, including his time at a remote LORAN Station on Marcus Island nearly 700 miles from the nearest point of land. He also tells of responding to the aftermath of a typhoon in Guam and a few highlights from leading crews on search and rescue and law enforcement cases as a coxswain on 30 and 40 ft wooden hull boats and on the brand new 41 UTB at stations in Honolulu and Kauai. For the most choice assignments in a single enlistment, Doug may have the record.
November 13, 2019
Episode 46: CDR Tim ‘TJ’ Schmitz - Helicopter Pilot - HH65 - Alaska Ranger Rescue
Commander and helicopter pilot Tim Schmitz talks the daring effort to rescue nearly fifty victims after their vessel, the ‘Alaska Ranger’, sank in the Bering Sea 180 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. A nighttime takeoff from the storm swept and frozen deck of the cutter Munro, a flight plan with no possibility of reaching shore and no margin of error to make it back to the cutter, only dim strobe lights to guide the crew to those treading water, the loss of a victim despite the determined efforts of all involved, and the triumph of saving lives at sea - it’s a story that is truly dangerous, daring, and epic.
November 08, 2019
Episode 45: Kevin Gilheany - BOSN (Ret.) - QMCS - SAR Controller - USCG Pipe Band
Retired Quartermaster and Boatswain Kevin Gilheany talks a search and rescue case involving a commercial fishing vessel that was poised to play out like a Greek tragedy until he took action to establish a viable search area and direct assets to locate and save the survivor. He also talks heavy seas in a newly commissioned 270 foot medium endurance cutter, taking celestial fixes aboard America’s tall ship, and his work to form the USCG Pipe Band.
October 31, 2019
Episode 44: Spooky Sea Yarns
To celebrate Halloween our hosts tell of their experiences with haunted Coast Guard cutters and stations. They also make an incredibly weak attempt to start a new legend about their favorite waterway.
October 26, 2019
Episode 43 - Chris Costa - BM - TACLET - Instructor - ITD
Former Boatswain’s Mate Chris Costa talks counter narcotics along the southern border, becoming an instructor and deploying worldwide to train partner nations, and how his service set the stage for later success as a trainer with Magpul Dynamics and now Costa Ludus.
October 15, 2019
Episode 42 - Ashlee Leppert - AET1 - Helicopter Flight Mechanic - Author of ‘The Hurricane Within’
Retired Aviation Electronics Technician and Helicopter Flight Mechanic Ashlee Leppert talks earning the Air Medal for flying with her crew into the midst of Hurricane Harvey to rescue desperate survivors from rising flood waters, unknowingly hoisting a basket packed with babies up and into the safety of a helicopter, and how responders overcome the emotional trauma of disaster by leaning on their crews. Now the author of the new book “The Hurricane Within”, she shares what motivates her writing and her hopes that others can learn from both her successes and mistakes.
October 08, 2019
Special Anniversary Episode - Dave Hughes - SK1 - The Prisendam Rescue
Thirty-nine years ago in the Pacific Ocean 330 miles off the coast of Valdez, Alaska, a fire engulfed the engine room of the Prinsendam, a cruise ship carrying over 300 passengers. As the fire raged, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. Recalled from liberty, the crew of US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell turned into an approaching typhoon and responded to the scene. Along with the efforts of other cutters, ships, and aircraft, the responders managed to save the lives of every passenger before the Prinsendam rolled and sank bow-first to the bottom. In this special anniversary episode Dave Hughes, a newly reported Seaman Apprentice at the time of the rescue, tells the story from his perspective on the deck of USCGC Boutwell.
October 03, 2019
Episode 41: Mike Vecchione - MEC (Ret) - Tactical Operator - Coxswain - MSST - CENTCOM - MSRT
Retired Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist Mike Vecchione talks risking his first coxswain letter with a search for survivors from a capsized vessel based on his own local knowledge rather than the algorithm used by a command center computer, deploying worldwide with the International Training Division, and losing a member of his team during a high risk training exercise. Now the owner of a cigar shop and partner in a coffee company, he also tells how they are supporting veterans and their families.
October 03, 2019
Episode 40: Ron LaBrec - CAPT (Ret.) - 270 WMEC - LEDET - Group Commander - Coast Guard Foundation
Retired Captain Ron LaBrec talks being on the bridge of a 270 during a search for survivors from a wrecked vessel, leading law enforcement detachments on deployments worldwide to counter maritime smuggling, and his toughest duty while in command. Now on the staff of the Coast Guard Foundation, he also talks how the nonprofit serves to help those in uniform and their families, especially in times of need and loss.
September 25, 2019
Episode 39: Wesley Jansen - BM - Coxswain - Company Commander
Retired Boatswain’s Mate Wesley Jansen talks a faint call for help and reviving a heart attack victim in dense fog off the Washington coast, a white knuckle day in Alaskan waters and the speed conversation all coxswains have with their crews, standing up the “Fighting Otters” and MSST Anchorage to protect the Alaska oil pipeline post 9/11, and how one of a company commander’s most effective tactics is simply telling others they’ve been a disappointment.
September 18, 2019
Episode 38: Amelia Presley - MK - Boat Engineer
Former Machinery Technician Amelia Presley talks search and rescue “Cajun style”, standing duty as an engineer on the Coast Guard’s newest boat types, being on watch during the search for the crew of a downed USCG helicopter, and how she’s carrying on the family legacy (yeah, that Presley) by making music influenced by her service.
September 11, 2019
Episode 37: Michael Ellis - BMCM - RFMC - Officer in Charge
Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Michael Ellis talks the rescue of a fishing vessel captain held hostage off the coast of Guam, his first case as a certified coxswain, leadership lessons from a decade in command, and how he’s using his own podcast to better connect with and inform the Coast Guard’s enlisted workforce.
September 04, 2019
Special Episode: Remembering Katrina with Sara Faulkner - AST1 (Ret.) - Helicopter Rescue Swimmer
On this 14th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall along the Gulf Coast, we talk with Aviation Survival Technician Sara Faulkner (Ret), the first woman to graduate from the Coast Guard’s own Rescue Swimmer School, about the immediate response of Coast Guard aircrews to what has become known as “The Super Bowl of SAR.” She tells of the sights and smells of a flooded major city, rescuing a newborn in mid air after the mother hands the baby to her from a hi-rise balcony, and the mass rescues performed non-stop in the days after the hurricane. Sara also tells some of the more dramatic tales of her twenty years of service, including her first SAR case as a member of a motor lifeboat crew and a near death experience in the Bahamas.
August 29, 2019
Episode 36: Vince Patton - Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (Ret) - RM - YN - CG Museum
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Patton (Ret.) talks receiving that first SOS while underway on the Cutter Dallas, his rise through the ranks to become the first African American to fill the service’s top enlisted role, and his continued efforts to preserve the legacy and stories of the service through construction of a National Coast Guard Museum.
August 24, 2019
Conversation with Susan Ludwig - President - Coast Guard Foundation
Susan Ludwig, President of the Coast Guard Foundation, talks the herculean efforts of the nonprofit to aid Coast Guard members and their families in times of need, disaster, and loss. Her stories left the hosts of this podcast speechless and forever grateful to the foundation for what it does to help those we’ve served alongside. Visit to learn more.
August 22, 2019
Episode 35: Donna Cottrell - RADM - HH65 Pilot - Coxswain - HITRON CO
RADM Donna Cottrell talks the launch of three helicopters to save a foundering commercial fishing vessel off Atlantic City, leading the response to a medical evacuation as an enlisted BM and coxswain, and commanding the service’s aerial gun crews at the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).
August 17, 2019
Episode 34: Miguel Calderon - ME - Boarding Officer
Former Maritime Enforcement Specialist Miguel Calderon talks a tense standoff with a well armed boat at the southern border, how hijinks at a station likely inspired a scene in the movie Jackass, and how once you’ve worn blue you’ll always have friends to turn to.
August 17, 2019
Episode 33: Live from Grand Haven Day 2
Recorded live on the Waterfront Stage at the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan - Marine Science Technician Zac Edwards talks his wedding and the rescue of a victim trapped in an Alabama rip current. President of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Capt Wes Pulver (Ret.), talks at sea holiday celebrations on board CGC Eagle.
August 11, 2019
Episode 32: Live From Grand Haven Day 1
Recorded live on the Waterfront Stage at the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan - Phil & National Coast Guard Museum Communications Director Drew Forester talk with Boatswains Mate Chuck Vogel about his response to a boat allision with a breakwall and the MEDEVAC of its seriously injured passengers, and the rescue of a swimmer in distress who was pulled to safety at the last possible second.
August 04, 2019
Episode 31: Shawnle Jones - SK - 44 Motor Lifeboat Crew
Former Storekeeper Shawnle Jones talks candidly about the challenges and struggles of being one of the first women to enlist after the Coast Guard opened all assignments to women in 1978, her first tour of duty as a Motor Lifeboat Crewmember at Station Fort Point in San Francisco Bay where she was routinely called on to respond to cases involving the tragic loss of life at sea, and her ongoing support to the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetary. Note this episode touches on mature subject matter. Parental discretion is advised.
August 04, 2019
Episode 30: Steve Hathaway - CWO (Ret.) - Helicopter Rescue Swimmer
CWO Steve Hathaway (Ret.) talks the first years of the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Program and what it took to prove swimmers could save lives, responding to a plane crash in the swift waters of an Alaskan river, a tough MEDEVAC off Oahu, the aftermath of Hurricane Iniki, a boat fire in the frigid waters of Cape Cod, and the aerial delivery of a boarding team far from shore to stop a massive human smuggling attempt.
July 27, 2019
Episode 29: Christopher O’Brien - LT (Ret.) - WHEC Crew - Circumnavigator
Lieutenant Chris O’Brien (Ret.) talks circumnavigating the Earth on a High Endurance Cutter, interdicting suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and coordinating the rescue of a downed fighter pilot in the middle of the Pacific.
July 20, 2019
Episode 28: Joe Peterson - RD - Russian Translator
Former Coast Guardsman Joe Peterson talks the unexpected arrival of the Russian fishing fleet off the Oregon coast in the late ‘60s and how his ability to read and speak Russian put him in the middle of high profile medevacs, law enforcement, and security actions that stoked public fears throughout the entire country.
July 13, 2019
Episode 27: Brian Boland - CDR - C-130 Pilot
From our first live show at the Escape Hatch in E City - Commander Brian Boland talks his first command as an Ensign, flying the mighty C-130 Hercules, and how the plane and its aircrew respond to search and rescue, law enforcement, and security missions in spite of weather that keeps all other flights grounded.
July 06, 2019
Episode 26: ASTCM Don Murray (Ret.) - Helicopter Rescue Swimmer
From our first live show at the Escape Hatch in E City - Master Chief Aviation Survival Technician Don Murray (Ret.) talks the rescue of a fishing vessel crew in a violent nor’easter off the Massachusetts coast and a broken helicopter hoist that left him and a survivor without a ride home.
June 29, 2019
Episode 25: Adrian Campbell - FT/ET - Cutterman
Former Fire Control Technician Adrian Campbell talks running cannons at GQ-1 in hostile waters, earning the Cutterman insignia, and celebrating line crossings as she sailed the world’s oceans.
June 22, 2019
Episode 24: Chad Carlson - ME/AST (Ret.) - Helicopter Rescue Swimmer
Maritime Enforcement Specialist and former Aviation Survival Technicial Chad Carlson (Ret.) talks an all volunteer mission into the worst of a tropical storm to save the crew of a tugboat grounded on a shoal and breaking apart in violent surf off the Georgia coast.
June 15, 2019
Conversation with Cody Wright - Author of the Rescue Swimmer Mindset
Former Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Cody Wright talks with us again, this time getting specific about the physical and mental aspects of preparing for and graduating from the toughest Coast Guard ‘A’ School - Aviation Survival Technician. Recorded during a previously aired livestream.
June 13, 2019
Episode 23: Jeremy Gourde - BMC - Coxswain
Chief Boatswains Mate Jeremy Gourde (Ret) talks exceeding operational limits to send a towline to a disabled fishing boat threatening an Atlantic City bridge and the punishing response to save a jet ski’s operator who set out in a hurricane.
June 07, 2019
Episode 22: Michael Carr - LT - Strike Team - Diver
Former Lieutenant Michael Carr talks diving on the wreck of the Cutter Blackthorn in the immediate aftermath of her deadly collision on Tampa Bay and the search and recovery efforts for 23 Coast Guardsmen, responding to the collision of the MV Summit Venture with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and diving under an icy Potomac River to locate the wreckage and victims of Air Florida Flight 90.
June 01, 2019
Episode 21: Chris Huntington - CGIS - FT/ET
Episode 21: Former Special Agent Chris Huntington of the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) talks sailing to war as a Fire Control Technician in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a dogfight in an HH65 above the Nation’s capital, the focused experience of a near deadly force encounter while serving an arrest warrant, and the measured response to an IED attack while deployed to the Middle East.
May 25, 2019
Episode 20: Pepe Carire - ASTC - Company Commander
Chief Aviation Survival Technician Pepe Carire ( Ret.) talks life and death decisions in the surf off Puerto Rico during one of his first missions as a helicopter rescue swimmer, and the lessons learned from an overturned liferaft in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.
May 18, 2019
Special Episode: Karla Nemitz - USCG - EM - Just Keep Swimming
Special Episode: In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month we’re releasing this special episode to further the conversation. Former Electrician’s Mate Karla Nemitz talks her experiences with sexual assault, mental health, and suicide while in the service, and how she’s now actively working to raise awareness of the issues through art in the hopes those suffering can get the help and support they need, and to further the work to prevent suicide and to eliminate sexual assault from the ranks.
May 18, 2019
Episode 19: John Kopp - USCG - BM1 - Surfman
Former Surfman John Kopp talks what it takes to pass an underway checkride and certify to lead boat crews in the surf, and how he’s helping to keep the lessons learned from a 1997 tragedy alive in the hopes they prevent future loss of life.
May 11, 2019
Conversation with Susan Curtain - Chair - Coast Guard Museum Association
Conversation with Susan J. Curtin, Chair of the Coast Guard Museum Association, who talks her father’s service in the Antarctic and how a former Port Security Specialist is now leading the charge to build the National Coast Guard Museum.
May 06, 2019
Episode 18: Kyle Kinser - USCG - ME2 -
Former Maritime Enforcement Specialist Kyle Kinser talks his personal struggles to transition from an active maritime tactical unit to a slower paced assignment and later civilian life. Surviving suicide attempts and a criminal conviction, he now helps and inspires others suffering through similar times in their lives.
May 04, 2019
Episode 17: Mario Vittone - USCG - CWO - AST
Chief Warrant Officer Mario Vittone (Ret.) talks a response to a distressed vessel off the Georgia coast that turned near catastrophic, with a rescue swimmer left alone in a liferaft hundreds of miles from shore and a helicopter so low on fuel its crew prepared to ditch into the Atlantic.
April 27, 2019
Episode 16: Timothy Montowski - USCGR - BM - PSU
On the mission’s 25th anniversary, Boatswain’s Mate Timothy Montowski (Ret.) talks deploying to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy and the unique wartime roles played by reservists assigned to the nation’s Port Security Units.
April 20, 2019
Episode 15: Glen Holt - USCG - OS1
Former Operations Systems Specialist Glen Holt talks the response to a sinking tall ship and the levels of responsibility placed on even the most junior personnel in the service.
April 13, 2019
Episode 14: Dwight Crumpacker - USCG - BM
Boatswain’s Mate Dwight Crumpacker talks a nighttime tow with an expecting mother in big swells off the Oregon coast and running some of the last wood hull life and utility boats in active service.
April 06, 2019
Episode 13: Sean McCarthy - USCG - Boatswain - Commanding Officer
Boatswain (Ret.) Sean McCarthy talks a rescue and medevac in breaking seas off Fire Island, NY and how leaders are forged through experience.
March 30, 2019
Episode 12: Tom Ellis - USCG - RD - Polar Ops
Former Radarman Tom Ellis talks the response to a tanker fire in Seattle and icebreaking operations at both ends of the Earth.
March 23, 2019
Episode 6: Mark Engle - USCG - BMCS - Officer in Charge
Senior Chief (Ret.) Mark Engle talks the tragic loss of a tanker off the Maryland coast, the final words of her captain, and the lessons on duty and attention to detail he’s carried ever since.
March 19, 2019
Episode 11: Charles ‘Tex’ McDonald Holt - USCG - BM
Charles ‘Tex’ McDonald Holt talks a Texas flood that left him in a fight for survival after his boat capsized, and the friend who defied orders to save him.
March 16, 2019
Episode 10: Matt Crow - USCG - AST1 - x2 CGCM
AST1 (Ret.) Matt Crow talks a boat that broke up in the surf off Puerto Rico and the Herculean effort to get all nine survivors out of the water and to safety.
March 09, 2019
Episode 9: Cody Wright - USCG - AST3 - Author of ‘The Rescue Swimmer Mindset’
Episode 9: Aviation Survival Technician Cody Wright talks a deadly boat collision on the Great Lakes and how seemingly minor lessons from the service’s most difficult school prepared him to adapt, overcome, & persevere when lives, including his own, were on the line.
March 02, 2019
Episode 8: Todd Fletcher - USCG - BMC - Executive Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) Todd Fletcher talks a man overboard during a security boarding off the South Carolina coast, the MEDEVAC that followed, and how a small Alaskan island nearly became a graveyard for his boat and crew.
February 23, 2019
Episode 7: Carlos Perez - USCG - MEC (Ret.) - Tactical Operator - 9/11 Medal
Episode 7: Maritime Enforcement Specialist Chief (Ret.) Carlos Perez talks how the 9/11 attacks played out in view of his boat crew, the maritime evacuation of lower Manhattan, and dealing with the realization that we as responders can do everything possible, but won’t always be able to make a difference to prevent a tragedy.
February 18, 2019
Episode 5: Bob Downs - USCG - Boatswain - Surfman - Commanding Officer
Boatswain (Ret.) Bob Downs talks a real fast night time tow into Oregon’s Chetco River, a search of a boat for an armed suspect, and a migrant interdiction off the Texas coast.
February 10, 2019
Episode 4: Kristin & Wes Lunkley - USCG - CG Medal
The Lunkleys talk a Coast Guard Medal case that ended in the successful rescue a victim trapped in a capsized boat and the lifelong relationships created by a close knit service whose everyday missions involve life and death.
January 27, 2019
Episode 3: Tom Rooks - USCG - BMCS - BM A School Chief - Officer in Charge - 3x CGCM
Senior Chief (Ret.) Tom Rooks talks a helicopter crash on the flight deck of an underway cutter and the intense levels of the responsibility the USCG places on even its most junior personnel.
January 25, 2019
Episode 2: Tim Woody - USCG - Boatswain - Surfman - Commanding Officer - MSM - 2x CGCM
Boatswain (Ret.) Tim Woody talks a night time surf case at the mouth of California’s Noyo River and the dangers of the “press to respond” that all rescuers feel.
January 16, 2019
Episode 1: The Rules Say You Have to Go Out, But Nothing About Coming Back
Our hosts introduce the podcast and tell the first sea stories.
January 13, 2019