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.
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 http://www.casematepublishers.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.coastguardmuseum.org/out/ to become a plank owner today!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.coastguardfoundation.org to learn more.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.