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SERVICE REFLECTIONS
OF A Coast Guard VETERAN
Jan 2020

Reese, Michael BMCS

Status Service Years
USCG Retired 1960 - 1980
Rate
BM-Boatswain's Mate
Primary Unit
1978-1980, BM, CG Station Freeport

Record Your own Service Memories

By Completing Your Reflections!

Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

 
 

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Coast Guard.

 

My grandfather, who had 30 years in the Army, said I should join the Coast Guard when I got out of high school. That was the best advice I was ever given.

I went to boot camp in Cape May, NJ. in Feb. 1960. At that time boot camp was 12 weeks long with two weeks forming, all together, it was 14 weeks. Just like he said about up North, it was colder than shit! In Feb 1960 ,they had one of the worst winters in that area in years. So I got a quick taste of how cold it gets up north, made up my mind to go south when we left boot camp.

 

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 joined the Coast Guard in Dallas in 1960 and went to boot camp at Camp May, New Jersey, in Company Lime/42. My career path was that of a Boatswain Mate.

I got to choose the 8th District out of boot camp, went to New Orleans, then they asked me what unit I would like. They gave me three chooses, and I took Port Isabel, TX, and I reported aboard in June 1960. I stayed in Port Isabel until August 1964.

Got orders to Grand Isle, LA. By then, I had made Third Class Bos'n and reported to the station in August 1964. I stayed there until April 1966. I met my wife Molly there and got married, still, have the same wife, would you believe that after all my drinking and running around.

From there, I transferred to Station Freeport, Texas, made BM2 at that time. I had to have sea duty to make 1st Class, so I put into for the 125 CGC Legare in Freeport, TX, before I got the Legare. I was sent to radio beacon school in Groton, Conn. for three weeks, talk about cold again. When I got back to Freeport, I was there for three weeks before I got my orders to the CGC Legare in downtown Freeport, TX. I went aboard in Jan. 1967, was on her when I made BM1 in June 1967. I stayed on her until we decommission her in March 1968.

Stepped right off the CGC Legare onto the CGC Point Monroe (WPB-82353) still in Freeport, TX. That's 3 units in the same town. Stayed on the Monroe until Sept 1969.

I transferred to the CGC Point Evans (WPB-82354) in Long Beach, CA so I could get enough sea time to make Chief. I stayed on the Evans until I heard the CGC Acushnet was going to Gulfport, Ms. in 1971. The Bos'n onboard didn't want to go to Mississippi, so I mutated to the Acushnet in May 1971. Rode her around from San Diego to Gulfport, Ms, and arrived there in July 1971 In her new homeport.

In November 1971, we went to the shipyards in Curtis Bay, MD stayed there until March 1972. That's when I saw the PONCE come into Curtis Bay to be decommissioned. Saw my old Chief Lonnie Quinn on her. We left the yards in 1972 for Gulfport, MS. Then we left in Sept.1972 for Little Creek, VA for underway training. Made Chief Bos'n in Little Creek in Oct. 1972. After we got back to Gulfport, we set the big buoys off Norfolk and New Orleans, 200 miles offshore.

Stayed on the Acushnet until March 1974. In 1974 we operated out Gulfport, Mississippi. Aboard this cutter, we fought a fire on the Mississippi River in Nov 1974. We received the CG Unit Commendation. I became the OinC aboard the USCGC Point Baker (WPB-82342) stationed in Port Aransas, Texas. During this assignment in 1975, we teamed up with the USS Lexington to search for an oil rig lost in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transferred to the CGC Point Baker (WPB- 82342 ) in Port Aransas, TX. as Officer in Charge stayed on board till Sept. 1976, then transferred to the Brand new CG Station Port Aransas, TX. I helped commission the new station. Made Senior Chief Bos'n in July 1978.

Then they wanted to send me back to another 82 footer, I have had 3 of them didn't want any more of those rough riding boats, so I put in for my last tour of duty, for Freeport, Texas. and got it. That was in Nov. 1978, and I stayed there as Officer in Charge until I retired in Sept. 1980.

During my 20 years in the Coast Guard, I saw plenty of SAR missions and hurricanes. Hurricane Carla in 1961 off Port Isabel, Texas. Hurricanes Hilda and Betsy in 1964 both off Grand Isle, LA. Rescue 3 men in Gulf Of Mexico while on Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC-144) near Freeport, Texas.

Retired in Freeport, TX and went to work for the Dept Of Energy in Security at the oil depot. I transferred to Saint James, LA, as Security Manager and stayed there until I got tired of those COON ASSES.

Then I put in for the Security job in Dallas, TX and got it. Worked for Ross Perot in Security until they downed sized us in 1988.

Then I went to work for Crescent Real Estate in Dallas, TX as a Security Manager until I retired again.

 

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?

 

I did not serve in combat operation even though I was in during the Vietnam Era. We were on alert for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?

 
USCGC Acushnet (WMEC-144)

The best unit I was in was setting buoys 200 miles offshore for NOOA aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet (WMEC-144).

For three years, we were attached to the Office of Naval Research and the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in San Diego.

My least favorite units were the three 82 foot patrol boats I served on. They are one of the bumpier boats in the Coast Guard. They are even rougher when riding out hurricanes. I was in four hurricanes, talk about rough. Our missions were law enforcement and search and rescue operations.

The three were patrol boats were the USCGC Point Monroe WPB-82353 out of Freeport, Texas, the USCGC Point Evans WPB-82354 out of Long Beach and the USCGC Point Baker WPB-82342 out of Port Aransas, Texas.

 

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

 

I am proud of making something out of myself. I went from SA to BMCS in 20 years in the Coast Guard. Besides becoming Officer In Charge of Patrol Boats and Stations. I was in many hurricanes, helped people, and saved lives.

 

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?

 

I received a Coast Guard Commendation Medal for my performance during the 1974 fire on the Mississippi River as well as a Coast Guard Achievement Medal.

For my underway training, I was awarded the big E while at Little Creek, Virginia, in 1972.

The best of all was getting my Gold Hash Marks for 20 years of Good Conduct, which was good for an extra 10% at retirement.

 

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

 

BMCM Bob Bragg helped me the most by teaching me how to be a good Boatswain.

 

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?

 

That would be the time when the crew came back from Mexico drunk and drove their car in the Gulf of Mexico 1963.

The driver was Bob Bragg who at the time was a junior Boatswain's Mate.

 

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 the Coast Guard, I went into the security field.

After 20 years in security, I retired.

I then went to work part-time as security at the baseball park.

I retired for good in 2008.

 

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

 

I am a member of the CPO Association and the American Legion. It keeps me up with other members.

 

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?

 

Serving in the US Coast Guard made a man out of me by giving me responsibility.

It was a good life.

 

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Coast Guard?

 

I would tell the young person to make a career out of the service.

You will be glad you served your COUNTRY honorably and with pride.

 

In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

 

It feels like belonging to a military group again. I especially like the ability to find ex-crew members by name and by units.

The site of TogetherWeServed has a lot of good things to see and read about other Coast Guard men and women.

It keeps members to stay in touch with fellow shipmates.

 
 
 

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