January 25, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Back in Uniform

Chances are, you've never heard of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Or if you have, you probably think it's a reserve unit of the Coast Guard, something akin to the National Guard. I always thought it was some kind of youth cadet association similar to the Boy Scouts. Recently, my friend Eric set me straight and suggested I look into it further as something I might be interested in. As it turns out, the Auxiliary is an all-volunteer organization of civilian sailors who assist the Coast Guard in its many operations, including search & rescue, vessel inspection and public education. Those members who actually own boats can operate their vessels under the Auxiliary's ensign as an authorized Coast Guard vessel while conducting patrols. (The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the maritime equivalent of the Civil Air Patrol, which is the Air Force's Auxiliary—and of which Eric is a member.)

As anyone who knows me knows well, I love doing anything involving the ocean. Scuba diving, sailing, swimming, even just sitting on the beach and staring at the waves... if I can smell the salt in the air, I feel like I'm home. That's one reason why I chose the Navy when I decided to join the armed forces back in the '80s. A good choice it was, for that reason at least: I probably spent more of those four years at sea than on dry land.

Though one enlistment was enough for me, I occasionally have nostalgic thoughts about the more exciting times I had in the Navy. So when I found out I could reclaim that excitement by going out on patrols and assisting the Coast Guard without having to sign away my rights for four years, I volunteered on the spot.

I attended my first meeting last night, and was impressed by the pride and professionalism of this all-volunteer "flotilla." Though we are all civilians, and receive no pay, we wear the standard Coast Guard uniform (with a few minor variations) and observe the same protocol as active duty members. I've only just joined, but so far it seems like the best of both worlds: the excitement and traditions of the military without the bureaucracy and four-year contract.

It also appears that there will be plenty of opportunities to get as much out of it (and put as much in) as I want. The Coast Guard is perennially short on funds—as most government institutions claim to be—so they rely heavily on the Auxiliary to assist with their operations. The heightened security issues of recent years, combined with the transfer of the Coast Guard into the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security, suggest a probable increase of the Coast Guard's dependency on the Auxiliary.

My goal is to get as much boat crew training as possible and participate in patrols and search & rescue operations, perhaps eventually onboard a Coast Guard cutter. Whatever else happens, it'll be great to once again have the opportunity to be out on the water on a regular basis and enjoy the fellowship of like-minded individuals. As they say, "Any day on the ocean beats a day on dry land."


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Chuckle:

Gone crazy. Be back shortly.

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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1/24: Hitting the Wall
1/23: It's a Small Web After All
1/22: War is Hell
Watching the Wheels
1/20: Bring on the Mayhem
1/19: Pigskin Ponderings
1/18: More Stupid Lawsuits
1/17: Finding My Passion
1/16: Gulf War Memories
1/15: Meet the New Boss
1/14: Man's Other Best Friend
1/13: Sea of Fire
1/12: Back to the Books
1/11: America's Finest Climate
1/10: Sunshine in a Bottle
1/9: What Would Jesus Drive?
1/8: Southwestern Sojourn
Wheel of Fortune
Class Warfare
1/5: Very Large Dream
The New Nuclear Age
Going Solo
New Year, Old Cave
1/1: All Things End

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