Clifton, Jim, LCDR

Storekeeper
 
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Life Member
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USCGR Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Current/Last Primary Rate
SK-Storekeeper
Current/Last Rate Group
Storekeeper
Primary Unit
1995-2001, SK, Marine Safety Office Memphis, TN
Service Years
1964 - 2003
Voice Edition
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander


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 Official Badges 

Coast Guard Retired Pin


 Unofficial Badges 

USCG Honorable Discharge


 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Reserve Organization of AmericaPost
  1973, Reserve Organization of America
  2009, American Legion, Post (Member) (Nashville, Tennessee) - Chap. Page


 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Periodically, I am an on site supervisor for The Creighton Company during times that the owner is occupied in performing other duties.  The company is primarily in commercial building framing and drywall construction.
   
Other Comments:

   
 Countries Deployed To or Visited

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
Click here to see Training
  1964, Boot Camp (Cape May, NJ), F/55
 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Coast Guard Training Center (Staff) Cape MayUS Coast GuardUSCG Group MobileUSCGC Blackthorn (WLB-391)
Coast Guard Reserve Unit NashvilleCG Reserve Unit Louisville KYUSCG Group Ohio River  Owensboro, KYMarine Safety Office Memphis, TN
USCG Group Lower Mississippi River  Memphis, TNCG Marine Safety Detachment Nashville
  1964-1964, Coast Guard Training Center (Staff) Cape May
  1964-1966, SK, USCGC Nettle (WAK-169)
  1966-1968, SK, USCG Group Mobile
  1968-1968, SK, USCGC Blackthorn (WLB-391)
  1968-1971, SK, Coast Guard Reserve Unit Nashville
  1971-1973, SK, CG Reserve Unit Louisville KY
  1973-1977, SK, USCG Group Ohio River Owensboro, KY
  1985-1990, SK, Marine Safety Office Memphis, TN
  1990-1992, SK, USCG Group Lower Mississippi River Memphis, TN
  1992-1995, SK, CG Marine Safety Detachment Nashville
  1995-2001, SK, Marine Safety Office Memphis, TN
 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Reserve Organization of AmericaPost
  1973, Reserve Organization of America
  2009, American Legion, Post (Member) (Nashville, Tennessee) - Chap. Page

 Photo Album   (More...


Reflections on LCDR Clifton's US Coast Guard Service
 
 Reflections On My Service
 
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD.
LCDR Jim Clifton - Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Coast Guard.
USCG Logo since 1790
The Vietnam war era was ramping up an increase in the draft. In 1963/1964, the advisers were not allowed to return fire unless directly fired upon. I was 21 and did not think President Johnson had the best interests for the US Army. I was a rural, small town Tennessee boy that did not see the wisdom in being a VC target. I was contacted by the Coast Guard recruiter from Louisville, KY. Prior to that, I had no idea what the Coast Guard did or that there was even a Coast Guard. Within 6 weeks (May 5, 1964), I was on my way to CGTC Cape May, NJ.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
I was put on a plane in Louisville to Philadelphia then had to manage the subway system to get to the bus station for the long ride thru rural Jersey. I was in forming company for a week awaiting the next forming. Since I was 21 and had a crew
LCDR Jim Clifton - Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
CGC NETTLE Military Zippo. A keepsake
cut, I kept my short hair for 5 days before the barber sheared me. Foxtrot 55 was formed with BMC Ray V. Kennedy as the drill instructor. We learned quick to only listen to Chief Kennedy or his QM1 assistant. He left us at attention and went inside. One of his fellow DIs (BMC Hearn) came out and told us to relax and "light up" and went on his way. Needless to say, it was planned. Chief Kennedy appeared, read us the riot act and we then started to do something called "push ups". LOL When it came time for posting of orders of new unit assignment, the Chief was reading off names from his unit and came to my name and said "don't recognize the name, must not be in my company". I did a great job of keeping a low profile. I was then transferred to CGTC Groton for Storekeeper "A" School.

There were several from my recruit company that were headed to Groton for advanced schooling. Since I was from Tennessee and the school was starting, I had to head directly to Groton. Michael Hrabec (Atlantic City) was kind enough to let me drive up with him. After 13 weeks of Storekeeper "A" School, I had the prime choice of available assignments. I graduated with a Seaman Storekeeper career path. Not realizing the impact it would have on my future CG career, I selected the 14th CGD. All I knew was it was Hawaii, I didn't realize there were oceangoing ships pulling something called "ocean station". After leave, I headed to Honolulu. While at Sand Island, I learned I was headed to something called COMPHILSEC. What the hell is that? Commander, Philippine Section. I arrived at Clark Air Base and caught a hop to Sangley Point via an overnight stay at USNAS Cubi Point. The CG was located on the US Navy Base Sangley Pt (Cavite City, Cavite, PI) Commander, Naval Forces Philippines was located at Sangley which was located just across the bay from Manila. I was transferred to the USCGC NETTLE (WAK-169) as the unit storekeeper.

Fortunately for me, there was a super supply officer (Warrant Bosn Doyle Stanley Porter) to direct me. In 1968, I was promoted to SK1; 1971 promoted to SKC; 1975 promoted to CWO2 (F&S); after attaining CWO4, I submitted an application for a direct commission. I retired as a LCDR with almost 39 years of total service. While assigned to COTP Mobile, I became PS/LE qualified and was the lead inspector inspecting dock facilities as well as ensuring ships were properly manifesting their hazardous cargoes. COTP Mobile covered the area of the 8th CGD that included Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Major ports of Mobile, Pensacola, Panama City, Port St Joe, FL, Gulfport and Pascagoula, Ms.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH MADE A LASTING IMPACT ON YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY?
My initial reason for joining the Coast Guard was to NOT go to Vietnam. However, as soon as the CG became involved and requested for volunteers, I submitted my request. Remember, I am from Tennessee, the Volunteer state. While not selected, I did wind up in the war zone waters
LCDR Jim Clifton - If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?
and actually set foot on land. In 1966, the NETTLE received orders to prepare to go to Vietnam. We had a couple 50 cal mounted on the focsle and did a few underway target practice exercises. We were directed to head to Bangkok to pick up building supplies for a new Loran Station to be located on Con Son Island, Vietnam.

Con Son Island is the location of those infamous/brutal "tiger cages". After a week of R&R in Bangkok and loading supplies, we headed to Con Son.Con Son was home to a US Special Forces camp as well as a Republic of Vietnam Army base AND the prison camp. We anchored and unloaded our cargo barge to offload the construction supplies. While we were there, the Special Forces gave several of us an aerial tour of the island. I am attaching a picture of my being on Vietnam soil. (From left to right - SK3 Clifton, EN1 Avila, unidentified, CWO Rex Coulson, a CG Seaman and several other unidentified US Army personnel).
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
This is actually a very easy question to answer. My first actual unit was the USCGC NETTLE (WAK-169). Remember, I was a real "country boy" that had not been exposed to the world. I was able to do some major sight seeing in Bangkok, Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan (2 yard periods,
LCDR Jim Clifton - Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?
USCGC NETTLE (WAK-169)
2 mos each, at Yokosuka) and the five Loran Stations we supplied with San Miguel beer in the Philippines. The NETTLE was a small cargo ship with a complement of 5 officers and 30 enlisted men. We were a tight-knit family. Many of the lower rated men were single and lived on board. We were allowed to keep civilian clothes on board. Liberty, when granted, was always in civilian clothes. We had a young man to come on the ship when we were in port to keep our shoes shined and ready to go as well as young man to do the mess cooking. All for $1 per month for each, a bargain.

Additionally, I was the first member of my family to visit the grave of my mother's brother who was killed in 1945. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Manila. I was able to take pictures and share with his two children. This should not take away from the other units I was assigned to during my initial 4 year active duty. I was transferred to CG Group Mobile (Choctaw Point), CG COTP Mobile (the Group Commander was also COTP) and to the USCGC BLACKTHORN (WLB-391), may the souls of those lost rest in peace as well as their families.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE MILITARY SERVICE, DESCRIBE ANY MEMORIES YOU STILL REFLECT BACK ON TO THIS DAY.
During my time at Group Mobile, one of our members had a fatal accident while at work on the buoy dock. He was transiting the dock with a crane. He failed to remember the boom was not on the crane and as he passed one of the buildings, he turned the cab so he could look forward. Big mistake, the crane toppled off the tracks and was in the water. I had the job of taking photographs of the recovery. His wife came down to the Base and was constantly wanting to jump in the water where her husband was. When the crane was lifted out, he was still in position with both hands firmly grasping the control handles. A sight I will never forget. Both Teresa as she sat waiting for the crane to be lifted, and Hawk as he was pulled up.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
LCDR Jim Clifton - What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?
Vietnam Coast Guard
I believe the many different units I served with while on active duty as well as Reserve where I came in contact with some outstanding people is one of my proudest times during my 39 years. As I advanced in rank, I feel like I was able to make positive impacts on several of my fellow Reservists. Many Coasties have enlisted and advanced to the officer level. I advanced to enlisted Chief, then to CWO4 before applying for a direct commission. No awards received for valor. We had a rough time receiving the Vietnam Service Medal since we were only in the waters for a few days and did not land on the Asian mainland.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR OTHER MEMORABILIA, WHICH ONE IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
LCDR Jim Clifton - Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?
The Humanitarian Service Medal
The Humanitarian Service Medal would be the most meaningful. I was activated for 30 days on two separate years for flood control along the Mississippi River basin. It makes you feel "good" to know you helped those less fortunate or experiencing difficulties.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
There are actually several individuals. The first one would have to be Warrant Bos'n Doyle S. Porter who now resides in the Tampa Florida area. His overall service knowledge he possessed and how he never lost patience while training a green storekeeper. Through his perseverance, I survived. Master Chief Donald Horsley, a real sailor a long time before Moby Dick was a minnow, was a wealth of information. BM1 HuKeong "Charlie" Chun (retired as a Master Chief & resides in the San Diego area) impressed me with his tolerance for his young deck apes as he trained them to survive handling cargo. Later in my career as a Reservist, Captains Richard Sanders, Richard Crawford, Charles Gower, Ronald Davis & Mark Zecca all had their impact on my career decisions as they give me directions and helped to improve my management skills.

Each and everyone I mentioned made an impact and influenced by life. Upon reflecting of individuals I have served with, I recognize that everyone had an impact on me. Some good and some not so good. As one matures, you can see admirable attributes and adapt them to your life. I was fortunate to serve with super quality officers and enlisted men. Several years into my Reserve career, I was a CWO and performing my annual active duty in the old 2nd CGD office in St Louis, I was pleasantly surprised to see my old CGC NETTLE XO (LTjg Billy D. Lovern). He had advanced to Commander and was heading up the personnel section.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
This had to be while I was assigned to the NETTLE. Master Chief Donald Horsley had OOD duty on a Sunday. He evidently did not get thru with his partying on Saturday and went to the USNS BOQ. He told the steward to get the Ensign down. When the steward
LCDR Jim Clifton - Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
Master Chief Horsley
come back and told the Master Chief that the Ensign was sleeping in and not available to take his duty. He told the steward to go tell "that damn Ensign to come down. He could tell his grand-kids that he had stood by for a real sailor". Needless to say, the Ensign dressed and made a quick appearance at the ship. Master Chief Horsley was a man's man and a "bluewater" sailor through and through.

He was assigned as Officer in Charge to one of the 2nd CGR river tenders. He requested and was granted a return to a "white one". Master Chief Horsley was very proficient in semaphore flags as well as celestial navigation. He could take a celestial fix and have it plotted in record time. The CO had junior officers retrained to his method. Several years ago, I was contacted about any stories or incidents about Master Chief Horsley. I understood that they were in process of naming a new building at the Yorktown Training Center in his honor.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
When I left active duty in 1968, I went to work for a footwear manufacturing company as an assistant industrial engineer. I was given increased responsibilities and eventually Project Engineer for plant layouts directing the electrical and HVAC crews as they responded to problems in the 23 footwear plants located in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. I was promoted to Corporate Safety Director for the company that had manufacturing plants for various soft goods. As more and more textile plants closed and headed off shore, I was assigned plant Engineering responsibilities for multi-plant operations including a plant located in Mexico. I retired from this company when I turned 62. I worked for 2 years with TSA at the Nashville, TN Airport as a Screening Officer (this was before the TSA officers were allowed to play with/handle your junk) LOL. I am currently, happily retired and enjoying life.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
LCDR Jim Clifton - What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?
ROA and American Legion
I have been a life member of the Reserve Officers Association since 1974. This organization was the primary reason that the Coast Guard Reserve survived the budget cuts from several years ago. I have attended one of the national conventions. I am also a member of the Nashville Chapter of the American Legion. Unfortunately, and it is my fault, I am not active in either associations. Both associations have consistently provided information on benefits available.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER? WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE SERVICE?
LCDR Jim Clifton - In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?
Education is the Key
The influence has been the way it has given me focus on the task at hand. This was especially true as a Reservist. While I was assigned to several Reserve units, as an officer I had to utilize my time effectively. During my civilian career, I progressively was given more responsibilities that required the same type of focus. At one time, I was the Industrial Engineer for 4 manufacturing plants with one of them being in Mexico. I had to make effective use of my time. Fortunately, the computer age was arriving that simplified some of my projects. Naturally, as one ages, hopefully maturity goes with it. I think that mature decisions I made in my civilian career were definitely enhanced by my military service. The Coast Guard gave me the opportunity to develop skills in managing and directing other individuals. This proved to be of great value as my civilian career also matured.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE COAST GUARD?
The military is a good career and being a "Coastie" is serving in the elite military force. There are benefits available, but of no use IF THEY ARE NOT TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. One of my friends completed his Doctorate while serving on extended active duty at the Coast Guard Academy,
LCDR Jim Clifton - Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Coast Guard?
Now, Mr Jim Clifton. Retired and loving it.
with the Coast Guard picking up the majority of the tab. Advancement is possible, but it is left up to you, the individual, to prepare yourself. After all, it is your career, make the most of it. Once I affiliated with the CG Reserve in Nashville, I was exposed to a wide variety of men that had a wide array of careers in the civilian. Many of these individuals advanced to the top of their profession. Several advanced to chief, warrant and officer ranks prior to their retirement. One young man enlisted in the CG Reserve program while he was in Western Kentucky University (an ideal situation, spending money & able to get an education at the same time). He retired as a Captain. Without a doubt, the majority of members assign to CGRU Nashville were truly outstanding.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
LCDR Jim Clifton - In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
TWS and the US Coast Guard
I have actually connected with a couple of my old (well, I am old, also) shipmates. Since I did not officially retire until I was 60 years old, I maintained a fairly good contact with the Coast Guard as well as attending reunions with both the Owensboro KY & Nashville TN Reserve Units. The world wide web has made it much easier to maintain contact. It was not uncommon during my early Reserve career to renew acquaintances of active duty friends or a "Coastie" that knew someone I knew.

DB 12/20/2016

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