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|An up close and personal interview with U.S. Coast Guard Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:
CWO3 Grady H Stribling US Coast Guard (Ret) (1964-1985)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
During most of my childhood, life at home was not good. My parents moved frequently and eventually divorced when I was 12 years old. At this time my brother, Jim, enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. By the time I reached 16 years old, I had enough of my family's problems. On the advice from my brother and with my mother's approval, I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard when I turned 17 and departed for boot camp in January, 1964.
WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
After Boot Camp March, 1964, I was assigned to the Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May,NJ as an Electrician's Mate "striker". I advanced to Fireman (E-3). I was transferred to the Coast Guard Training Center, Groton, CT, Electrician's Mate School. After satisfactorily completing 16 weeks of training, I was transferred to the 13th Coast Guard District, USCGC Winona, homeported at Port Angeles, WA. I advanced to 3rd Class Petty Officer after six months aboard the Winona. The Winona completed underway training in San Diego, CA, one Ocean Station November, and one Alaska Bering Sea Patrol during my tour.
1966 transferred to 1st Coast Guard District, Boston, MA, Pre-Com Detail, USCGC Atka. Sailed the CGC Atka to Baltimore, MD where she was placed in a 6 month shipyard availability period. We sailed to Bermuda on a shakedown cruise during which time a request to rename the ship "Southwind" was approved by the Commandant. After shakedown the "Southwind" completed a 6 month patrol in the Artic. While enroute I advanced to 2nd Class Petty Officer with duties as ship's electrician and propulsion throttleman. Upon returning to her homeport of Curtis Bay, MD Coast Guard Yard, December 1967 my enlistment ended.
After 1 1/2 years as a civilian I re-enlisted as a 2nd Class Electrician's Mate (June, 1969) and was assigned to Coast Guard Base, Mayport, FL. During my 2 year assignment I advanced to 1st Class Petty Officer, responsible for maintenance and repair of electrical systems on shore stations and small boats.
1971 received orders to Vietnam via the Coast Guard Training Center, Alameda, CA for training in Weapons, Explosives Loading Supervisor, SERE and Orientation. I was assigned to Senior Coast Guard Officer Vietnam (SCGOV). My primary responsibility repairs to maritime Aids to Navigation, secondary responsibility Explosive Loading Supervisor.
During my tour I re-enlisted for a period of 4 years and received approval for my request to attend the US Navy's Advanced Electrician's Mate School. 1972 reported to US Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL. After 33 weeks of intense training I graduated with honors being #1 in the class.
I received orders to US Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay, CA as the 1st Class Electrician's Mate in charge of the Electric Shop. We made repairs to electrical systems and equipment throughout the Group.
1974 transferred to the CGC Red Cedar, Portsmouth, VA. Only electrician responsible for maintenance and repair of electrical system and equipment. I stood EWO watches. Made #1 on the list for Chief Petty Officer in 1975.
Transferred to the 5th District Naval Engineering (ene) Assist Team. The most significant duty during tour was the design and refit of the CGC Cherokee DC power distribution system to AC power distribution system.
In 1977 I transferred to USCGC Yocona, Astoria, OR. I readjusted and repaired the DC main propulsion system which gave the Yocona the ability to complete full power trials. I made #1 on the list for Senior Chief Petty Officer and advanced in January, 1979. We performed fisheries patrol and made major drug bust on the Helena Star for several tons of marijuana.
August, 1979 discharged as an enlisted man and took the oath as a Chief Warrant Officer with duty assignment to the 1st Coast Guard District Naval Engineering (ene) Type Desk Officer for lightships and buoytenders.
1982 transferred to Coast Guard Group Mayport, FL as the Engineering Officer.
Retired August, 1985.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
Yes, I was in Vietnam in support of combat operations. I repaired maritime Aids to Navigation equipment, i.e. buoys for navigating major channels up and down the coast of Vietnam. As a secondary job function, I supervised the offloading of 500/1000 lb. bombs from an ammunition ship to barges which were towed up the Saigon River to the ammo dump. I participated in the replacement of the main power distribution panel which blew up at CG Tan My Loran Station.
WHICH, OF THE VESSELS OR DUTY STATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?
CGC Winona, my first sea duty assignment to Ocean Station November and the Bering Sea Fisheries, Law Enforcement Patrol.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
The most memorable moment of my career was having my wife attach my shoulder boards and my son present during my commissioning to Chief Warrant Officer.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
The Coast Guard Achievement Medal with a Combat V, it was awarded to me from the Commandant in recognition for my meritorious service in Vietnam while serving with the Aids to Navigation Detail under the command of Senior Coast Guard Officer of Vietnam.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
Commander Donald Hoffer, USCG, Chief of Naval Engineering (ene), 5th Coast Guard District. In the establishment of the 5th District Naval Engineering Assist Team, Commander Hoffer had the confidence and assurance in our ability to perform emergency repairs to vessels and special projects. His approach to us was "there was nothing that we couldn't do as long as we were provided the funding".
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
When I was assigned to a certain vessel there were times when we were on fisheries and law enforcement patrols, the Captain would drop anchor to allow us to fish off the fantail. Whenever "fish call" was announced over the PA system, the Engineering Officer was always first to get the prime spot on the fantail for fishing.
One particular time at "fish call", many of us assembled and of course the EO was already there at his prime spot. However, this time a seagull flew over where the EO stood and dropped a "present" on the top of the EO's buzzed head which ran down his face and neck.
Consequently, someone else was able to fish the EO's prime spot.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
Ship repair and new ship construction as Electrical Dept. Supervisor. Now permanently retired.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
The Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, the benefit is receiving Association news and notices and featured articles about the Coast Guard in combat.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
I try to keep my life structured, realizing the responsibility of my family and others. I always try to do any job right the first time.
I believe it is important for a supervisor to train his personnel especially one that could do his job in the event he wasn't available.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
Learn to listen. Take your work seriously. Study and advance in rank.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
TWS has given me the ability to contact several of my shipmates that I served with. I have enjoyed the memories as I have gone through all my service records and photos for posting to my profile on TWS. I also have the opportunity to make and have made new friends through TWS. I especially like the military structure that TWS emphasizes.
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