Anything will fit if you apply enough force. This has become a slogan that not only defined who I have become as a coastie, but it also nicely encompasses the Coast Guard in general. First I’m sure you’re wondering how this slogan relates to me and I will start off by saying get your head out of the gutter. As a young 18 year old non-rate stationed on a 270 foot cutter I was eager to do as I was told. Partly to stay out of trouble but mostly to prove myself. True story, I even packed all white boxer briefs thinking that someone might check my sea bag as I got onboard and I’d be in a shit ton of trouble for not having uniform underwear.
Moving on. I quickly became a target of some good ‘ol “lets mess with the new guy” fun. You know, stuff like “every non-rate must wear a life jacket at all times while underway” trick. If you were smart enough to not fall for this, screw you I was 18. Next on the list of fun was the “fit this life ring down that hatch, seaman!” As a naïve coastie I did as I was told and got to work. Now if you haven’t been stationed on a boat yet, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that the life ring is not meant to fit down the hatch leading to the forward bos’n hole. Supposedly it’s impossible. So here I am busting my ass and literally spitting on this life ring to try and lubricate it enough to fit through the damn hatch. I had to have been there for 20 minutes. All while multiple people walked right on past me as I twisted this life ring and continued to spit on it until it eventually went in; perfectly in tact, aside from a few scrapes and a slightly dented outer edge. I climb my happy ass down the ladder and place it where I was told to, reemerging victorious and damn glad I didn’t fail.
As I made my way aft I hear a roaring of laughter. I walk down the P-way and notice that everyone in my department is watching a security camera, pointed right at the hatch that I just fit the life ring down. Now maybe this shouldn’t have been one of my proudest moment but it was.
In the CG, we are the red headed step children of the military and are often shafted when it comes to budgets and resources. We have to make things fit where no one else can and work things out with far less than our military counterparts. We are always ready to do what needs to be done with what we have available to us. In my opinion, this small truth makes us one of the most successful and capable branches of the military.
I’ve deployed with the Navy, Marine Corps, and about 5 other countries and their military entities. We kick ass. Just saying.
I’d love to hear your sea stories. Good and bad. And if you love the Coast Guard like I do, head over to www.bornreadyapparel.com for the only Coast Guard apparel designed for Coasties by Coasties.