A little sea story to entertain you for the next few moments:
The ocean was so calm this morning after a rough night of swirling winds and choppy seas. Waves rolled over me for hours, but my sturdy life jacket kept me afloat. Fortunately, the Gulf Stream waters were warm, and hypothermia was not an immediate concern. What worried me was thinking how far I had drifted since my boat sank what, 14 hours ago? Never expected to hit a big log or whatever it was, but I sure did. It’s hull fatally punctured, my 22-footer took on water so fast, all I could grab was my life jacket, my EPIRB to which I had affixed a lanyard and clip, and a bottle of water. Thank God for that.
So, now I was gently bobbing and drifting in the flat calm sea as the sun began slowly rising in the east. Wondering where I was, I silently prayed that the EPIRB tethered to my jacket was signaling for help. It appeared to be working. Without it, I did not imagine much chance for rescue.
After a while, I saw something coming over the horizon to the south. First, a black mast and some faint smoke. After a few moments, I could see more – a group of black antennae and a big white orb. Then windows glinting in the morning sun – windows to a ship’s bridge! I could make out a flag on the mast, one with red and white vertical stripes. My heart began to race, and I tried to yell. I don’t think any noise came out. I reached for my whistle and blew as hard as I could, an unnecessary act as it turned out.
Suddenly I heard a loud roar and a bright orange helicopter appeared seemingly out of nowhere, hovering over me, the person in the open doorway waving. I waved back and gave a thumbs-up signal. I was found! I was saved! The United States Coast Guard received my EPIRB signal and sent out a lot of people to save me. Me! It was the grandest moment of my life. It was the humblest and most redeeming moment of my life, that others would head out to sea, in search of little old me.
How thankful and glad I was that I decided to spend the money on a device I’d hoped never to use. I smiled weakly as the small boat pulled up and hands reached out to me. I nodded to the crew that I was OK and they waved off the chopper. I gratefully sipped water as we skimmed over the ocean surface towards the cutter, and I could see the name. Mohawk.
What a beautiful name. Every cutter name is beautiful to every soul who’s been saved by one of these magnificent ships and the men and women who put themselves at risk for the sake of others. The helicopters like the one that spotted me are flying angels of hope to the lost; their crews ultimately willing to give their own lives if necessary, during their duties. Who does that? Who, indeed?
What a wonderful organization. What joy those who served in it must have for what they’ve contributed at sea, in the air, on the rivers, serving aids to navigation, or managing the administrative backbone of such a truly remarkable force.
Rest easy, all who have served under that storied ensign, and know that your contributions made a difference. Take pride, all who continue to serve, that those who have gone before you, salute you and wish you fair seas, calm winds, and much continued success in the many roles in which you excel.
Some say there is no glory in serving! How wrong they are! They must not understand what it takes and what it means to serve in the United States Coast Guard. Semper Paratus!
- Mark Holmes (OK to copy or share link)