A Pirate Looks at Forty

U.S. Lifesaving Service

Boy, didn’t see that one coming … 20 years, 27 days and a wake up.

It’s a busy week for us here as I prepare for my U.S. Coast Guard retirement ceremony, Friday, and brandon wraps up his final exams so he can drive to D.C. to be the keynote speaker at my retirement ceremony.

A couple weeks ago brandon wrote a career advice piece about embracing your apprenticeship. What was so great about it was it was simple, the insights were true and it came from his personal experience. He didn’t read about the concepts in a book or hear about them second hand, he lived them.

Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate on this last week of my service to the Republic that I share with you what I shared with the community of public affairs officers and specialists taking the helm when I’m gone (as I took the helm from brandon when he went “ashore”). The following is presented, as written to my colleagues, with military jargon and acronyms included. You won’t need a translation to understand the gist.

The first story I wrote out of ‘A’ school was a personality feature about a Captain getting ready to retire after more than 40 years in the Coast Guard. He had enlisted in 1954 and held nearly every pay grade between E-1 and 0-6 and a few that don’t exist today like Warrant Officer 1.

As we talked, I learned he had only planned to do one tour then get a real job. It struck me because that was my plan at the time – four and out – so I asked him why he was still around.

He told me a story about a boy who never talked. His parents had taken him to every doctor, psychologist and specialist but no one could figure it out. Until one day when he was around 12 he told his mother at dinner that the meat was bad. Shocked, they got upset and asked him why, if he could talk, hadn’t he uttered a word in 12 years, to which he replied, “I dunno, everything’s been fine until now.”

The Captain knew something I would later figure out: When things are good, why stop. In 20 years, I reenlisted only once and the rest were one or two-year extensions until I made CWO. Every time my contract was up, I looked around and thought, “Things are good. I like what I’m doing. I’m going to keep doing it.”

Now it’s done – and it’s been awesome.

I don’t have a load of wisdom to drop or career lessons to share (well I do, but I won’t,) other than this: Everything I learned, every piece of knowledge I absorbed, all the wisdom I managed to cull, I did by:

1) Doing stuff – I deployed when I had the chance, I got underway, I took pictures, I wrote stories, I took risks and I did things that were uncomfortable when it was the right thing to do.

2) Failing at stuff – The toughest part about doing stuff all the time is you fail a lot more than if you did nothing at all.

3) Doing stuff differently – I tried to not make the same mistakes twice and even when things worked I tried to remember, in our trade, no two scenarios are exactly the same.

So if you do what I did, you won’t need my words of wisdom or lessons
learned … you’ll finish with your own and you’ll have earned them.

The best of luck to each and every one of you and thank you for an amazing 20 years. Each of you has my loyalty and are welcomed to contact me anytime if you need a favor, an advocate or a connection.

Peace, Love and Victory!


Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; 1995

Me, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; 1995

Talk to me, Goose.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s